Out of the Fog by Holly Donohue "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 21 January 2020 True Agile, mtp engage manchester, Waterfall, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 386 Holly Donohue at MTP Engage Manchester Product Management 1.544
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Out of the Fog by Holly Donohue

In this MTP Engage Manchester talk, Holly Donohue, Product Director at Aquila Heywood takes us through their product team’s journey from a waterfall business to one focused on agile.

The key points of her talk include:

  • Problems as a waterfall business
  • Making the adjustment to agile
  • Achievements since the transition

Watch the video to see Holly’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of her key points.

Problems as a Waterfall Business

What to do if you’re a product manager prioritizing on gut feel and can’t get anything out the door? This was the situation Holly and her product team found themselves in. Due to the nature of their business, there were issues with transparency and effective communication. Product development plans were focused on functionality but struggled to express value. There was too much collaboration, too much hippo opinion and a constant struggle to make decisions.

Making the Adjustments to Agile

Holly and her team decided to focus on value and finding the ideal business outcome rather than just shoving products out the door with no prioritization. Holly takes the audience through an exercise with the goal of showing how focusing on business outcome works. By viewing each problem through one of four lenses and prioritizing based on product revenue, revenue increases, revenue reduction or cost avoidance value matrix was created. These categories could then be weighted based on the needs of the company, and the result would be a value score that helped with prioritization.

Achievements Since the Transition

Since making the transition to agile, the product team at Aquila Heywood has undergone a product team reboot. They have stopped focusing on lean outcomes and the product team is no longer being pulled in different directions and servicing demands. They now have enough time to focus on strategy and have removed backlogs for things not aligned with the product strategy.

Relationships with the executive board have improved thanks to regular meetings and prioritization. The relationship with the scrum team is better helping them to see the organization and priorities and help the team move out of silos. The product team can also challenge each other and avoid biases.

The key takeaways are that focusing on the value proposition and business outcome can help to improve transparency and gain trust.

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