Home » Author Archives: Johanna Rothman

Author Archives: Johanna Rothman

Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at jrothman.com.

What’s Minimum: Thinking About Minimum Viable Experiments

When I talk about Minimum Viable Products or Minimum Viable Experiments, people often tell me that their minimum is several weeks (or months) long. They can’t possibly release anything without doing a ton of work. I ask them questions, to see if they are talking about a Minimum Indispensable Feature Set or a Minimum Adoptable Feature Set instead of an ...

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Consider Rolling Wave Roadmap and Backlog Planning

Many agile teams attempt to plan for an entire quarter at a time. Sometimes, that works quite well. You have deliverables, and everyone understands the order in which you need to deliver them. You use agile because you can receive feedback about the work as you proceed. You might make small adjustments, and you manage to stay on track with ...

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Cost Accounting is a Problem for Agile (and Knowledge Work)

The more I work with project portfolio teams and program managers, the more I understand one thing: Cost accounting makes little sense in the small for agile, maybe for all knowledge work. I should say that I often see cost accounting in the form of activity-based accounting. Each function contributes to some of the cost of the thing you’re producing. ...

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Pushing vs. Pulling Work in Your Agile Project

If you’re thinking about agile or trying to use it, you probably started with iterations in some form. You tried (and might be still trying) to estimate what you can fit into an iteration. That’s called “pushing” work, where you commit to some number of items of work in advance. And, if you have to service interruptions, such as support ...

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Iterations and Increments

Agile is iterative and incremental development and frequent delivery with cultural change for transparency. What do the words iterative and incremental mean? Iterative means we take a one-piece-at-a-time for creating an entire feature. Iterative approaches manage the technical risk. We learn about the risk as we iterate through the entire feature set. Incremental means we deliver those pieces of value. Incremental approaches ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 3

I started this series writing about the need for coaches in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1. I continued in Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 2, talking about the changed role of managers in agile. In this part, let me address the role of senior managers in agile and how coaches might help. For years, we have organized our people ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 2

In Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1, I wrote about circumstances under which a team might want a coach. It wasn’t an exhaustive list. It had several questions defining when coaches might help the team to become agile, not be cargo cult agile. One of the reasons we might need coaches for a team is because of the changed manager role ...

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Coaches, Managers, Collaboration and Agile, Part 1

There was a fascinating Twitter conversation last week when I was busy writing other things. (I also find Twitter to be a difficult-for-me arena to have a conversation. I need more than 140 characters.) The conversation started when Neil Killick tweeted this: orgs need coaches not because “agile is unintuitive”, but because effective sw delivery is a team game requiring ...

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What Agile Project Managers Do Not Do, Part 2

In What Agile Project Managers Do, Part 1, I spoke about what agile project managers might do. Here’s what agile project managers do not do: The agile project manager does not assign work. The agile project manager does not estimate work on behalf of the team. The agile project manager does not commit to features, stories, or tasks on behalf ...

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