Project vs. Product – Organizational Focus

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Project vs. Product – Organizational Focus

Sometimes my clients ask me which are the best organization structures that support a move to agile approaches. There are many ways to characterize their organizational structure and focus, but a common view I use is this:

Are they aligned as a Project-based organization or a Product-based one?

You can move to agile methods with either focus, but I think a Product-based focus makes it much easier. Let’s explore the dynamics of each. This will help you determine where your organization currently resides AND how you might want to shift your focus if you’re thinking about agility.

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What IS your Legacy?

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What IS your Legacy?

I spent over 10 years working at a company in Connecticut called Micrognosis. I wrote about an aspect of my experience there in this post.  

During my tenure at Micrognosis we delivered many, many products and projects. We made millions of dollars on our technologies and our customers were fairly happy with our efforts. All of this happened in the span from 1986 – 1996. If you asked me today whether anyone, and I mean anyone, really cares about the efforts we made (products, effort, blood-sweat-tears, etc.), I’d say no.

One of the hidden factors in all of our legacies, and I know technologists don’t want to hear this, is that what we’re working on really doesn’t matter in the long term. No matter what you’re working on!

For example, Netflix or Google or Spotify of today really won’t matter (technically) 20 years from now. Sure, they’ll be historical notes about them on Wikipedia, but the products themselves won’t matter.

So, what does matter?

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A New Path...

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A New Path...

I formed RGalen Consulting Group in 2001. It was an independent software development and testing consulting firm that provided training and consulting services focused on sharing my experience for client improvement. Even though I had many permanent leadership roles, I maintained and grew the practice with the intent to eventually focus 100% on my coaching and consulting.

The focus of our client improvements were around:

  • Organizational Leadership

  • Software Development & Delivery

  • Software Quality

  • Software Requirements, Planning & Execution

In the early days of the practice, I became “Agile” and that has permeated all of the above ever since. And not just agile in word or because it’s a “hot topic”. No! I’ve got agile in my bones, in my DNA, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of several companies where we changed the entire culture, not just technology.

Over the years, I’ve partnered with several firms to increase my bandwidth and ability to serve my clients AND have a broader influence than a sole proprietorship. They were:

  • Velocity Partners

  • and most recently, Zenergy Technologies

Now, I’ve decided to move on from Zenergy and begin a new chapter in my agile and client journey…

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Book & Video Recommendations –  Product Owner

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Book & Video Recommendations – Product Owner

If you’ve read any of my work, you probably know that this role is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I’ve written a book about it. About 50% of my agile coaching revolves around aspects of product ownership. And if you search my blog, you’ll see many references to the role and activities surrounding it. For example, backlog grooming or refinement.

So, it’s hard for me to be unbiased on the topic, but I’ll try my best. And it’s even harder to keep my recommended list limited to three.

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What do I need? Everything!

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What do I need? Everything!

I’m often caught up in a pattern with clients.

They’ll come to me and ask me to help them either start on their agile journeys or improve / accelerate their current efforts.

But then, when the actual logistics are discussed, we try to minimize everything. That is coaching and training time. The primary two reasons are budget and the time investment. I guess folks are focused on getting the max for the minimum. (sounds like a department store doesn’t it?) https://m.tjmaxx.tjx.com

So, I keep reducing my recommendations and approaches until at some point it fits the budget and time tolerances. But often that comes at a cost. 10 years ago, I would minimize to the point where the results would be impacted, but I try not to do that anymore.

Now, I’m much better at holding the line. At negotiating, by keeping their needs and the ultimate outcome in mind. At keeping everyone focused on the goals. 

So, where are you going with this, Bob?

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Scrum Product Ownership, 3'rd Edition

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Scrum Product Ownership, 3'rd Edition

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share some great news. I’ve just completed the 3’rd Edition of my Scrum Product Owner book.

It’s been a true labor of love that’s taken far longer to finish then I’d originally expected. (sounds like software products, right?) But, to quote a common agile phrase…I am now…

DONE.

Stick a fork in it, Baby!

E-copies (PDF, EPUB, and MOBI) are all available immediately on LeanPub. What’s nice about connecting via LeanPub is that I plan on continuing to evolve content & ideas in the PDF, so it will be a way to “stay in touch” with any future developments of the books’ themes.

Also not that I’ve published several short PDF, blog link books that make it easy to explore my blog posts on 3-specific topics:

  • Agile Coaching

  • Agile Leadership

  • Product Ownership

More information on ALL of the LeanPub copies can be found here: https://leanpub.com/bookstore?search=Robert%20Galen

Amazon

You can find the paper version here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/098850264X/

And the Kindle version here: https://www.amazon.com/Scrum-Product-Ownership-Navigating-Forest-ebook/dp/B07PBGN5NW/

And here’s a link to my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B00287V534/

Previous Owners Offer

I’d like to make the following offer for ALL Edition 1 and Edition 2 book owners. If you’ve previously purchased a paper or e-copy of my two previous editions, I’ll give you a free e-copy of the 3’rd Edition. All you have to do is drop me a note and I’ll forward you a coupon for LeanPub to get your copy.

Wrapping Up

It’s been a long time in coming, but I’m incredibly pleased with the results. I hope you pick up a copy of the new book and hope even more so that it provides value to you.

And if you do read it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. It means so much to me to gain feedback.

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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The Leadership Circle – Initial Thoughts…

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The Leadership Circle – Initial Thoughts…

Late last year I took the Leadership Circle Profile certification class with Shahmeen Sadiq. It was a 3-day class for the core Leadership Circle Profile and then a 1-day follow-up for the Leadership Culture Survey.

I was looking for an instrument (360-degree tool) to use in my Certified Agile Leadership (CAL I & II) workshops to provide insights for leaders making the shift towards a more agile mindset. I’d been using Bill Joiner’s, Leadership Agility tool and I found it unwieldy for my purposes in the class.

Well, after four days, I’m excited about my new tools. I believe the LCP is a great tool for individually coaching leaders. And I’m even more excited about the LCS and how it will nicely dovetail into my private CAL I classes.

The Leadership Circle

I can’t do the instruments/surveys justice in a short blog post. What I will say is that the focus is on showing us the balance between our reactive tendencies and our creative competencies. Reactive focuses more on controlling and managing our teams. While creative attempts to achieve results by building and leveraging our teams’ capabilities.

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Creating Business Agility

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Creating Business Agility

My colleague and friend, Anthony Mersino runs VitalityChicago. And agile coaching and training firm in, you guessed it, Chicago. He recently shared a post about 3 Key Steps that leaders should be taking to create business agility. The steps are: 

  1. Get Executive Buy-in and Agile Mindset

  2. Agile Leaders Should Get the Right Mix of Talent

  3. Foster an Agile Friendly Culture and Organizational Structure

While I really like Anthony’s 3 Key Steps, I’d like to add to or augment them…just a little bit.

For #1

In my experience, there’s a HUGE difference between getting buy-in and achieving an agile mindset. Most executives have a modicum of buy-in. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be embarking on an agile journey. However, achieving an agile mindset is different.

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What is Business Agility?

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What is Business Agility?

I was approached to speak at a startup event for a local Business Agility Institute user group here in the Raleigh/Durham area. I was quite pleased to be approached and am more than willing to present an agile topic to the group. 

But the request made me think…

I’ve been engaged in agile approaches for nearly twenty years. So, I have quite a lot of experience with the core methods, practices, scaling, agile leadership, cultures, etc. But what the heck is “Business Agility” and what sorts of topics would that group be interested in?

The answer escaped me and I realized I had to do some research.

Basic Definitions

Here’s what CA (Rally Software) had to say regarding a definition and 3 key aspects:

A company’s way to sense and respond to change proactively and with confidence to deliver business value—faster than the competition—as a matter of everyday business.

1.     It’s making the customer the central focus of your organization

2.     It’s driving value faster, better, and more efficiently

3.     It’s transforming how your business operates to achieve successful outcomes

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Building a First Team

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Building a First Team

During the years 2009 – 2012, I worked at a small company called iContact here in the Raleigh/Durham area. iContact had developed an email marketing, SaaS application that competed (still does) with the likes of Constant Contact and MailChimp. 

Ryan Allis was our CEO at the time and he was very innovative when it came to organizational change & evolution and leadership development. He happened to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni at that time, and became enamored with the ideas contained within.

At the same time, we were adopting agile (Scrum, Kanban, and Scrum of Scrums for scaling) across the organization. Quite successfully, I might add. So, the two efforts naturally converged. And I was pleasantly surprised how well our Agile efforts and the 5 Dysfunctions blended together. That’s really what this article is all about.

5 Dysfunctions & Agile, like Peanut Butter and…

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