The most important aspect of building a product is the value that the product brings to the end-user.
I saw many times POs focusing on filling up team capacity and managing hours. We need to understand that behind this kind of behavior, it is an old mindset where the number of hours equals output. It was probably true when thinking about handmade manufacturing, but in the digital economy, we need to talk more about the outcome.
Thus in the role of the PO, we need to ask more the question of how we can maximize the value our development team (DT) is producing, not how to make the development team busy.
Let me share some DON’T DO THIS STORIES:
A) A colleague asks the team for time to learn some new technical things. The PO says NO. #
What is wrong with this picture?
- The PO does not manage team capacity. The PO focus is the product.
- This situation is a command and control situation. The team should manage the time.
- The PO could see an opportunity here: growing development team means more quality for the product and more value created.
B) Development team wants to tackle technical debt. The PO says NO and explains that the team should focus on User Stories, not technical quality. #
What’s wrong here?
- Technical debts affects team ability to deliver value in the future. It also affects the speed of development (let’s call this fancy “velocity”).
- Quality is at the heart of the agile and one of the main reasons, remember “Continuous attention to technical excellence, and good design enhances agility.” It is one of the 12 agile principles in the agile manifesto.
- The agile team should be a collaboration, not an ongoing push for more features without any focus on technical quality.
C) PO and sometimes SM continuously ask for the team to increase velocity. #
What is wrong here?
- First, let’s talk again about one of the 12 principles, “Agile processes promote sustainable development.” Sustainable development means that the team could do this indefinitely. Growing continuously is a lousy focus and in the end it leads to burnout.
- Let’s not forget that the purpose is to provide value to customers and users not to speed up. Velocity is just one of the metrics used in this and should not be the only one. For sure should not be the only one.