Product teams own capabilities, not (only) code.

As a software engineer, what is your job? and what is your value? On many teams, the work is “add features to this codebase.” We congratulate teams for moving JIRA tickets from “defined” to “delivered.” Meanwhile, the value to the business depends on value to the customers, or to people or software who in turn …

Read moreProduct teams own capabilities, not (only) code.

What is this “product” you speak of?

We talk about “software products” and “product teams.” What does this even mean, “product?” It is not the definition I learned in school. Economics 101: the output of the economy is “goods and services.” Goods, also called “products,” are physical items that you can buy, take home, and have. Like, if you buy a rug, …

Read moreWhat is this “product” you speak of?

Better coordination, or better software?

TL;DR: When different parts of an organization need to coordinate, it seems like a good idea to help them coordinate smoothly and frequently. Don’t. Help them coordinate less — more explicitly, less often. Software systems get big, and they have lots of parts, and those parts need to talk to each other. Maybe we’re building …

Read moreBetter coordination, or better software?

Project to Product asks more of our software, and more of us

TL;DR: Projects ask teams do what is asked of them; Products ask teams to invent their work. This requires a different way of seeing the world, and not everyone can do it yet. Software is not an up-front investment that pays off over its use. Software is an ongoing concern, an intricate piece of a …

Read moreProject to Product asks more of our software, and more of us

Grow to where we’re going

“Plants are movers…. Plants grow to where they’re going.” Frazier, P. & Jamone, Lorenzo & Althoefer, Kaspar & Calvo, Paco. (2020). Plant Bioinspired Ecological Robotics. Frontiers in Robotics and AI. 7. 10.3389/frobt.2020.00079. This is a keynote written originally for a private company. I’ll do it at conferences, including YOW! in September 2020. Short bite: In …

Read moreGrow to where we’re going

Define roles by what each person increasingly knows

Say you’re aiming for outcome-based product teams that write and operate software. Maybe you hire for roles in these teams like Software Developer, Product Owner, Designer, Tester. How do you define each role? We usually ask, what does each person do? A typical job description includes: what does the person do? What are they responsible …

Read moreDefine roles by what each person increasingly knows

The visible lines of division are not the meaningful ones

Imagine you’ve never cut open a human body before. Nor seen a diagram drawn by someone who has. Back before anatomy textbooks, the organs and systems of the human body would not have been obvious. I imagine asking, what are the parts that make up a person? and getting: head, arms, legs, hands, feet, chest, …

Read moreThe visible lines of division are not the meaningful ones