Lessons Learned in Becoming a Product-Centric Organization

“A large, global financial service firm (we’ll call it BigFin) was three years into its journey to adopt agile ways of working. To accelerate customer experience improvements that had already been achieved, the technology infrastructure division decided to align its structure and delivery to become product-centric. The focus was primarily on products used internally by its employees.

Toby Sinclair, an internal coach in the strategy and transformation team, brought in Ellen Gottesdiener to fill gaps in the team’s product management knowledge and experience. With Ellen’s product coaching expertise, both Toby and Ellen touched almost all parts of the organization. It changed how the company viewed what was valuable to its customers (employees) and how to organize to deliver this value.”

Thus begins the in-depth report Toby Sinclair and I recently published as part of the Agile Alliance’s Experience Report initiative.

Experience reports are resources for people who seek perspectives and lessons learned for others. The process of creating this report has deepened my practice as an agile product coach.

To identify what happened during the transition to become truly product-centric, Toby and I:

  • Created an events timeline with an emotional seismograph
  • Mined the timeline for themes
  • Created a set of proto personas for the roles in the organization
  • Produced a force field analysis
  • Drew several visuals to articulate concepts (see one of them, below)
  • Developed and multiple versions of causal loop diagrams
  • Conducted numerous Zoom conversations to discuss our learning and writing

© 2020, Gottesdiener and Sinclair: “Narrow, inside-out versus broad, outside-in product definition”


One that stands out for me as a powerful tool for deep learning is the causal loop diagram. The final version we included in the report, shown below, explores the complex interaction of factors that influenced the transformation.

Dynamics of transitioning to being product-led(GottSinclair)

© 2020, Gottesdiener and Sinclair: “The dynamics of transitioning to being product-led in BigFin’s infrastructure organization”


I hope you will find the report informative in your work. I am grateful to Toby for the opportunity to work with him both on this engagement and as a learning partner to create this report.

Read the full report on the Agile Alliance site, here.

Product Management, Product Management/Ownership, Product

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