In this Sunday Rewind we look back at Melissa Perri’s insightful talk, Escaping the build trap, from our 2017 San Francisco conference. A lot of teams are stuck in ‘the build trap’ she says. They’re busy defining and shipping software with no measures of success, managing the backlog, and focusing on getting features out the door. They’re focused on building any thing rather than the right thing.
Melissa looks at how to identify whether you are in the build trap and at what product leaders and product managers can do to escape it.
Developing products is not a linear process, Melissa explains, but part of a system. Businesses create products or services to solve the problems or needs and wants of customers. Solving big problems for customers creates big value for businesses and the product manager’s job is to optimise value for both business and customer. This means a product manager must understand the external and internal factors that affect the value on both sides.
The external influences on customers are found through discovery. Understanding these influences helps us to understand our customers and the way we should approach them.
Melissa argues that the three main internal factors boil down to process, strategy, and culture.
Process – We need more than just Agile to build great products. We need good product management processes that help us navigate the uncertainty of building products. Product managers need to be the champions of recognising and embracing uncertainty inside the company, and guide teams to use the right processes at the right times.
Strategy – Many companies do not have a strategy that supports good product management. Good strategy should come from a clear vision and mission. It helps to navigate the uncertainty of product development, and promotes alignment throughout the organisation.
Culture – Culture holds great product management together, but is often the thing that keeps us in the build trap. To escape the build trap, we need to create a customer-centric organisation that rewards learning and the attainment of outcomes, rather than focusing on outputs.