July 23, 2014

All Posts In Category: test

Agile Coaching Blog

Lean Startup: The Product Assumption Map

Today’s product development efforts focus on testing, experimenting, and getting feedback on features and functions before developing them. These new techniques and schools of thought are exciting and (if the posits guiding the features are good) should improve the abysmal success rate projects experience in delivering stuff people actually use. All too often, though, user stories that are skillfully refined, defined, decomposed and successfully delivered are ultimately deemed “bad” because people don’t see any value in the finished product. That’s where the product assumption map comes in. This map helps product owners and their stakeholders better align their assumptions about what their product is expected to do and the people they believe will use their product. This creates a repository of assumptions that can be explored and validated before committing time and money to experimenting, designing and building the functionality.

The product assumption map improves the quality of user stories by creating a visual representation of the things the product is expected to do (supported roles) for the intended users (actors). The first contribution the map makes are the conversations regarding the things people will be able to do using the product, which define the roles the product supports. Everyone who has been engaged in this (stakeholders, product management, designers, etc.) should be involved in these conversations. At this stage, the map focuses on helping the product definers recognize that they could have very different people with different perspectives wanting to do the same type of thing in a product for potentially different reasons.

Lean Startup and the Product Assumption Map

One reviewer, an experienced agile coach, believes this map could fill “a hole in the thought process and design that I have seen in almost all clients that I have worked with.”

Product Assumption Map: The Approach

The approach is straightforward: [Read more...]


Agile & Lean Startup: What’s the Most Dangerous Assumption?

Last month, I had the privilege to speak at the NY Intrapraneur Meetup group. If you are in the New York City area, and even remotely interested in lean startup and agile, I would strongly recommend you try to attend. While still a small group, everyone is incredibly enthusiastic, thoughtful and has some truly interesting perspectives that made the experience quite educational for me as well.

Lean Startup, Agile, & Dangerous Assumptions

“The Most Dangerous Game” Film, 1932

During the presentation, we were discussing assumptions and tests. At this point someone asked what types of assumptions I thought are the most dangerous. Were they ones that we didn’t realize we were making, the ones we were sure were correct, or what? After a little thought, I came to realize that there is a particularly dangerous assumption many of us don’t think about: that one which was once true, but has since been invalidated.

I particularly love the power of metaphor and have found myself encouraging people to think about project management, software development, and product management to be more like a series of experiments than like building a house, which continues to be the “go to” metaphor within project management, much to my chagrin. However, if we think about it, the comparison to the scientific method also has a fatal limitation. [Read more...]