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Scrum has proven to be a practical product delivery framework for digital products like applications or apps.
However, Scrum is equally suited to build the wrong product efficiently as its Achilles heel has always been the product discovery part. What product discovery part, you may think now. And this is precisely the point: The product owner miraculously identifies what the best way to proceed as a team by gating and prioritizing the product backlog is.
From sunk costs, HIPPO-ism, my-budget-my-features to self-fulfilling prophecies - learn more about the numerous product discovery anti-patterns that can manifest themselves when you try to fill Scrum's product discovery void.
HOST: Stefan Wolpers
Hello, everybody. Welcome to the first Hands-On Agile Webinar. I'm your host Stefan Wolpers, and today we will be talking about product discovery anti-patterns.
The first one basically everyone knows, it 'my budget, my feature.' Think Jira monkeys and coders. The product department is more treated like an internal agency, and stakeholders pursue the, "we pay for you," approach.
Number two, speaking of silos, for example, marketing or sales, insist on channeling communication with customers and users. Their sales people are preventing [the product team] from talking directly with customers, which is making user interviews and user research very problematic.
Number three, coders code. Engineers are supposed to deliver code and nothing else. They are not supposed to, for example, talk to customers, very often under the label that coders are too expensive and too scarce and they shouldn't waste time on talking to customers. I believe this is pure Taylorism at work. It's entirely output oriented.
Number four, okay, as a product team we shouldn't assume a victim role here. We also contribute in some form or another to this whole product discovery anti-pattern process. For example, there's one issue that regularly triggers frustration on the side of the stakeholders if we are not transparent about how we work.
Next category: personal issues. So, personal agendas, I don't think we have to talk about it in detail.
Pet projects: pet projects are stakeholder driven. However, they do not exclusively apply to the middle management. You can also think of gold plating as an engineering approach, or why an exotic new technology suddenly becomes a part of the tech stack. A root-cause analysis will probably point to the "what is in it for me?" syndrome with one or more stakeholders.
Number six, HiPPOism. HiPPO stands for highest-paid person's opinion, and there's the famous quote of Jim Barksdale of Netscape, "If we have data, let's go with the data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine." However, there's no scientific proof that the pay grade of an individual is linked to his or her ability to identify what's worth building.
Number seven, bonus at risk: the misalignment between individual incentives on the one side and the team objective on the other side. Shortly before the end of the bonus period, the product team gets swamped with must-have requirements from sales.
Psychological issues, the third and most interesting category of product discovery anti-patterns.
The sunk cost fallacy, number eight. We believe that we make rational decisions most of the time. In fact, we're often only rationalizing them afterward.
Substitution, number nine. Another piece from Kahneman's book. Kahneman's system number one tends to deliver answers to most of the questions that come to your mind very quickly. Now, for example, consider the question, "How's your life nowadays," which would require you to reflect on and analyze. That's actually another part of your brain. Yet, you come up with an answer immediately. The trick here is that the brain's actually not answering this complicated question, but it's answering a related question. For example, "How was your mood today?" and takes this substitute question as the ground for the belief that you answered the original question.
#10 - Validating your solution: This self-fulfilling prophecy is closely related to the "I know what we have to build" issue we just talked about. With the best intentions, you want to validate your hypothesis and solution, you are data-driven, right?
Survivorship bias, number 11. Survivorship bias or survival bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it in the past through some selection process, and overlook at the same time what didn't happen, typically because of a lack of visibility.
The last one, number 12: psychological distance. Steve Jobs once said, "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times people don't know what they want until you show it to them."