Agile & DevOps

8 reasons Why Agile Transitions Fail – Part 2

In Part One we looked at how Agile can affect your development and support teams in ways that you might not have thought about.

With that understood let’s take a look at one of the most significant concepts in Agile, the issue of trust.

Agile Transition Fail #3 – Trust Me…

The biggest challenge for your tradition func-spec Product Managers (if they exist) will be surrendering control of the problem definition and the solution.

You’re really going to have to build a level of trust between the Product Manager(s) and your tech team, because more often than not we’re presenting problems that need solving to engineering. Furthermore development will increasingly challenge whether the problem has been understood.

Agile Tip

Get your Product Managers involved in stand ups, have them discuss the emerging solution with the engineers and use their gravitas and organisational presence in playback sessions to get your organisation bought into Agile and the product being developed.

Agile Tip

If it’s all too much too soon turn the dial down a little on development questioning the problem definition. Trust must be built first.

Agile Transition Fail #4 – Marketing is not Product Management

Your marketing team will love Agile, you’re going to share a new language that will bring your teams closer together. The marketing team will be delighted when you ask them to share their views on customer personas, they will also value your development playbacks and the clearer vision of product coming down the pipe.

Your marketing team also have the potential to wreak havoc.

Product Marketing is not Product Management.

Agile Tip

Clearly define the role of Product Marketing in Agile. Product Marketing is responsible for telling the world world about that product, including positioning, messaging and pricing, launching the product, sales enablement, and for driving influencer programs.

Product Managers have two roles, first they assess product opportunities and secondly they define the product to be built. They work closely with Marketing to gather the intelligence they need, but the two roles are different.

Agile Tip

Use your marketing teams skills & knowledge to spread the Agile message. For example your organisation may already publish Key Wins internally, why not do the same for products emerging from engineering?

Agile Transition Fail #5 – What have the services team got to do with Agile?

Your services team will be even closer to your customers than support, they will be the people copping an ear load if the software isn’t working as designed…. even if the root cause is environmental!

I’ve worked with many services teams and it’s a truism that the type of people that succeed in this role are very capable individuals.

Self starters that get stuff done!

Simultaneously what we love about these people we also hate i.e. their single mindedness and ability to do whatever it takes to meet their objectives even if it means doing something wrong.

Agile Tip

Your services team are rightly regarded as strong customer advocates. Use their knowledge to help inform product direction.

Agile Tip

Make sure that product playback sessions are recorded and made available to your services team who might be otherwise engaged in keeping the lights turned on!

Be careful though, being close to the customer does not necessarily bring with it enlightenment and knowledge. As Henry Ford famously said:

If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse. Your customers can inform and validate your vision but they can’t create it for you.

Part Three

In the third and final part of this blog series I’ll cover what needs to be done to encourage collaboration and education across your organization.

If you want to learn how to switch to agile within your organization this ebook has some killer tips.

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