product ownership

Oops… learning lessons over and over

Here are agile software development mistakes that kick my ass whenever I let them: Know the assumptions in plans. Recognize when they change. Don’t abuse time boxing. It is a toe hold for over-committing. When the time box ends, the work ends. Doing Scrum means DOING SCRUM. Sloppy backlog. No Scrum. No Product Owner. No Scrum. No iteration boundaries and no commitment doesn’t make me “lean”.

Owning uncertainty

At Agile 2008, I attended Jeff Patton’s talk on embracing uncertainty and Alan Cooper’s keynote on interaction design. I am convinced it is the role of product owner or customer that needs the most work in our evolving agile practices. Sponsors express their desires as feature requests. But, as Alan Cooper argues, there is no linear progression from what people need, what they perceive they need, and how they express that in language. At the same time, supporting departments, customers … Read More

Stop calling it an estimate. Stop pretending it’s a commitment.


A product owner describes work. The team estimates it. The product owner sets a delivery target. The team commits to it. Estimates People are good at estimating their own ideal effort on well-defined work within their realm of experience. People are poor at translating ideal effort into calendar days, estimating how long others will take to perform work, and estimating work that is either poorly understood. Estimation is time consuming with diminishing returns so the effort should be managed to … Read More

Catastrophic mistakes


Construx has a white paper revisiting Stephen McConnell’s Software Development’s Classic Mistakes. In it, they list ten mistakes most likely to produce catastrophic or serious consequences. Half of them speak more to executive and product management than development: #1 unrealistic expectations #2 weak personnel #4 wishful thinking #7 lack of sponsorship #10 lack of user involvement Given my experience of organizations that means projects are marked for failure well before agile methods are even applied. Under these circumstances, we can … Read More

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