Making Linear Thinking “chic” again

Making Linear Thinking “chic” again

Last week we published the CloudTeams Playbook, a guide for Product Managers to become customer-driven. I tried to contact  people of my network to collect feedback – apart from the dedicated workshop – and I got very useful and practical input, such as “we are definitely not lean, closer to scrum”, “steps 7-12 are omitted” or “I work on step 10”. For me that feedback was fantastic! It meant that we had really built a guide where people were able to distinguish the steps, recognize their operations on the map, communicate more easily what they do and don’t do at work, and where each team member focuses.

Those interactions reminded me to point out that the CloudTeams methodology may be modified when adapted by a software team; Actually, it should be modified to fit the team’s culture. The core methodology is  an effort to separate validation from verification, and engage the team in more frequent feedback loops with its customers and users,while a user persona is the main document to transfer the generated knowledge throughout different steps (see picture below ).

The CloudTeams methodology with agile development on the bottom
The CloudTeams methodology unfolded

What we many times forget is that based on the maturity of product and the market, as well as the mentality of the team, there are steps that may be skipped. As seen on the example of the picture below, a Waterfall approach would focus on complete, well defined and executed cycles. A Lean approach would try to run early experiments to experiment mostly on pricing, even without actual builds of software, and then implement focused but verified software. An Agile approach would focus more on user feedback before going to the customer, in a more design-thinking approach where the team believes that a good product will drive sales.

The CloudTeams methodology adapted by existing methodologies
example: The CloudTeams methodology executed by a Waterfall, an Agile and a Lean team

Agile, Lean, even Rigid methodologies may be valid and effective as long as they are used in the proper context. Nevertheless, if a team follows the CloudTeams methodology, it should just adjust the suggested (12) steps accordingly to meet the business needs and goals where it operates; team members will not need to “learn new tricks”, the product manager will “just” orchestrate the steps and the tools to “make the engine work smoothly”, and thus the business will be more flexible moving from Lean for experimentation, to Agile for usage growth, to Rigid techniques for market growth, and back to Lean to (re)innovate.

We are told to run in cycles while we have a linear thinking. Thus I believe that if we work on the CloudTeams methodology we may have a common standard for product management. Please go and read the playbook, and let me know what you think about it.