Posts on Product Discovery

7 Ways of Creating and Sustaining an Agile Product Roadmap

A product roadmap visually depicts how your product will evolve over time to realize your product vision and achieve continual value for your customers and business. (I define the term product to refer to a software application, system, device, service, or a combination that provides value to customers and business partners.)

A product roadmap should be designed to adapt continually, guide decisions, and promote action.

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Structured Conversations to Discover Your MVP

Many product development teams talk about the wisdom of producing great products by iteratively exposing potential customers to small, cohesive product increments. [1] The concept of focusing effort on minimum viable product (MVP) delivery has gained momentum particularly in the agile world. MVPs deliver customer value through successive delivery of small product slices and drives teams to make smarter choices about their product’s future development.

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The 7 Product Dimensions: A Guide to Asking the Right Questions

Upon embarking on my first stint as a product manager, I happened to run into an experienced product executive one day in passing. I asked him for advice and he obliged. He replied rather succinctly: “Ask questions, and then go add value.” He was never one to ramble on. Since then, I’ve taken his advice to heart, asking questions early and often. Now, a few years into my career in the product field, I find myself going a level deeper and asking a new question: Am I asking the right questions to all the right people?

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A Visual Nutshell for Amplifying Product Discovery

Defining Value

We were recently planning a discovery workshop for a large initiative with the Chief Product Owner (CPO). She is part of a growing, global community utilizing the techniques in our book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. This community is doing the vital work of product visioning and backlog definition and refinement. Discover to Deliver™ techniques are woven into collaborative product discovery and planning workshops. Such facilitated workshops quickly produce agile product roadmaps and release plans.

The CPO needed a succinct way to prepare the customers and subject matter experts who would be participating in the discovery session. She asked us, “What can I use to share the essence of our discovery work?” We showed her a visual spread we call “DtoD in a Nutshell” spread from our book.

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Value: The Lynchpin in Agile Product Management

Defining Value

You’d think the topic of value would be uncontroversial when it comes to agile product management and ownership. After all, early and continuous delivery of value is the first principle in the Agile Manifesto.

And yet, the idea is not always clear and consistent. Value is often not easily qualified or quantified, which makes the important task of conversing transparently about value difficult.

At the Agile Product Open last month, I proposed the topic “Value: The Whats, Whys, and Hows” in the morning marketplace of ideas.

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Agile Product Open: An Illustrated Interview

Agile Product Open Illustraion

I spend a lot of time in my work sharing the value of visualization in agile discovery. What better way to share the value of the upcoming Agile Product Open event (May 21, 2016) than visually!

Here is an illustrated interview created by Iris Amelia Febres after interviewing Vanessa Ferranto and myself (we are co-producing the event). We shared the reasons why we started this new event and our passion for the conference theme: “Bringing Agile Principles to Product Management”.

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Product Owner Survival Camp, USA

Product Owner Survival Camp USA

Product owners often find themselves alone in the organizational wilderness, straddling tactical with strategic product work. To succeed, they need to be inventive yet intensely focused; collaborative but decisive; and far-sighted but detail oriented.

The best product owners are strategic—envisioning the product, communicating upstream with business executives, researching the market, and continually planning for delivery of high-value product options. At the same time, they are also tactical—communicating downstream with the delivery team, running product demos, and discussing technical considerations.

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The Eyes Have It: How Visuals Can Energize Your Product Discovery

Visual Language

We facilitate lots of discovery sessions, leading teams to explore, evaluate, and confirm product requirements. A frequent question we hear from agile product managers, product owners, Scrum Masters, and coaches is, “My team is all over the place with backlog items. They can’t agree! How do these discovery sessions get them on the same page?”

The key is recognizing that discovery is a lot like learning: Everyone needs to find the best way to address a problem or opportunity—and do it together. To accelerate mutual learning, people need a blend of visual thinking and visual language. Mix in the right space, and you have a winning combination.

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Timely Topics, Deep Discussions: Agile Open Jam at BBC 2015

Open Jam 2015

Enthusiasm + experience = deep conversations. And there were plenty of insightful discussions during the Agile Open Jam at the 2015 Building Business Capability (BBC) conference, where passionate practitioners shared and learned from each other.

For the third year in a row, BBC attendees took advantage of an open jam format to better explore a wide variety of agile topics. We at EBG were pleased to continue serving as the organizer and host of the Agile Open Jam at the BBC, the official conference of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®).

Participants at the jam said there was “great collaboration of ideas and problem solving” and “awesome conversations.”

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Decide How to Decide: Empowering Product Ownership

Common Decision Rules

As the product owner, you are responsible for the product’s vision, and ultimately, the value of your product. You “own” the backlog. If your responsibilities include upstream product management—what I refer to as strategic product ownership—then you also shepherd your product through its entire lifecycle.

Bottom line, your prime responsibility is deciding what to build and when to build it. Your decisions guide not just the health and well being of your product, but also all the people engaged in product discovery and delivery.

Yet a common product ownership struggle I see in agile teams—regardless of industry and product type—is determining how to make decisions. As an agile coach, I use a pattern I call “Decide How to Decide.” It’s a simple technique to help people make transparent, participatory, and trusted decisions.

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