24th of July 2012 by Tim Yevgrashyn, CSC Senior Technical Consultant/Agile Coach
While preparing for the next Product Ownership engagement I was sorting out my notes and thoughts on how Agile product owners set their priorities. Based on my personal experience, I’d say with my hand upon my heart that most of them do it spontaneously and intuitively. But is intuition alone enough for proper prioritization of product user needs and wishes?
It’s a rhetorical question, of course. Remember a dialogue between Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan «Ben» Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? When Luke is exercising with his light saber on board of the Millennium Falcon, his mentor suggests he puts his blast shield down and continues to exercise blindly. “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them. Stretch out with your feelings,” says Kenobi. I saw this analogy in Roman Pichler’s post “(Roman is the author of “Agile Product Management with Scrum” which I found extremely interesting!).
There’re lots of scientific approaches towards analysis of product user needs and wants and their prioritization based on the maximum profit. That’s how Roman depicts his idea:
On the other hand, the role of intuition in making prioritization decisions remains indisputable. We all are striving for Product Vision and that’s what the good Product Owners base their decisions on. To feel how to do it right and, as a result, to make right decisions quickly – that’s what most Agile software teams are striving for. This approach is fully opposite to the previous one and can be displayed like this:
What makes me love the Scrum and similar methodologies is the good “propaganda” of the empirical approach, i.e. creation and development of products, systems and projects based on the short-term data. The sooner we apply a reality check to every idea, the lower the likelihood we’ll be doing something wrong in a longer term. At the same time, spending lots of time collecting data to decide what to do next is a luxury we can’t afford. The time spent on thinking would rather be spent on experimenting and gaining first-hand experience.
“Think like a startup even if you’re developing and managing a product in a huge company,” that’s what I usually tell my clients at my Agile Product Management workshops.
The innovation lies within the intuition; however, both innovation and intuition are based on the store of knowledge and experience you have. An idea that hasn’t undergone a reality check remains just a dream and never becomes an innovation. Great results are always on the junction:
Now let’s remember the ending of the above mentioned Star Wars episode: Luke relies on his intuition when casting rockets to the Death Star minecraft and he succeeds! But, before this, he mentions having spent his childhood on his native Tatooine where he was hunting the same-size sand rats. What do you think it was – gained experience or intuition?
(Original post in Russian is available here)
FYI: On September 12, 2012, I’ll be hosting a workshop on Product Ownership in Agile Methods in the frames of Ciklum Discovery Program. The workshop will take place in Ciklum Kiev office and will be targeted at Business Product Managers, Business Analysts, IT Managers, software development specialists, Agile geeks and those who have no or little knowledge / experience with specific software requirements development methods. To get detailed information and register, click here. To learn more about my competence as an Agile Coach / Scrum Master as well as Ciklum modular Discovery Program, click here. See you in September!
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