Although over 6-1/2 years old, Marty Cagan’s “Product Management vs. Product Marketing” remains the Silicon Valley Product Group’s top blog article. (It’s entirely possible, of course, that it’s popularity is self-reinforced due to its prominent position on the SVPG home page…) While I generally agree with Marty’s premise and proposed solution, I believe that the article was written primarily from a Waterfall perspective and that an Agile perspective offers a better way out.
I’ve been coaching the StubHub Labs team on Agile, Scrum, and Kanban principles and practices since last July ’13. They got a nice shout-out on eBay’s corporate blog yesterday…
One of the things that I think holds Scrum teams back from being successful is that they often learn about the Scrum process but don’t learn about Agile culture or infrastructure. Because Scrum is a system that relies on all of it’s parts, failure to master Agile culture and infrastructure means that companies will also fail to master Scrum. This failure is unbelievably costly for companies and teams: “average” teams deliver only a 35% improvement over Waterfall, while properly coached teams deliver 300-400% improvements. I’ve seen this myself in my time working with Scrum teams at Atomic Online: once a team got properly coached and running, we were at least 3-4x as fast as when we started. This is rare, too: I have not yet worked with a team that has outperformed the teams I worked with at Atomic Online.
I think we owe it to ourselves as members of Scrum team to learn about and embrace Agile principles. This is hard to do without a “sensei” (a well-experienced Agile leader) who can can conduct gemba walks with incumbent leadership to bring about organizational transformation. In lieu of that, though, here are some resources that I hope can help to at least illustrate the difference between a true Agile/Scrum/Kanban environment and a waterfall environment that has adopted a few Scrum processes.
My elevator speech goes like this: “I design, develop, and ship innovative products that delight customers, create value, and do good in the world.”
Those last three components—delight customers, create value, and do good in the world—are the three most important aspects of a successful product. Here’s why I think so.
I first learned about “When Do They Sleep,” a project from Amit Agarwal (http://labnol.org, @labnol) at MozCon 2012. The suggestion was to identify when your target blogger slept so that you could tweet to them at a time they were most likely to be awake.
I like the tool and it seems relatively accurate, at least based on my tweeting patterns. I just have one minor suggestion… strip leading @s from the user name. Sure, the user should “know better.” But sometimes we haven’t had enough coffee and this is a very simple fix that might improve the experience for a few more users.
I first ran across “Mad Libs” style form designs about two years ago when I read Luke Wrobleski’s blog post “Mad Libs” Style Form Increased Conversion by 25-40%.
Here’s the image they used to illustrate the differences (taken from Luke’s post who in turn obtained it from Ron Kurti):
I’ve used this form design on a couple of products and I’ve always been impressed with the conversion improvements.
I came across Yapp.us from a Twitter post retweeted by @DovSeidman, CEO of LRN and checked out their site. Here’s a screenshot:
So what do I like about it?
- The form design. it’s fast, easy, and fun. Click on a field, select a radio button, and it updates the chalkboard. By using the form, I simultaneously hear and tell a story: “I <3 apps. I have like >50 on my Android device. I dream about creating an app of my own. Let me create one in minutes + for free.”
- The site’s voice. It’s informal and friendly but not edgy or irreverent.
- It’s subtle, but they’ve done a elegant job of compositing the assets. In particular, wiggle the window size around a bit and look at what happens to the thought bubbles.
Updated for better description: I did notice one drawback, however. The “mad lib” bubbles pop up when you hover over a field, but one has to be very careful about moving the mouse from the “_____” to the radio buttons. Here’s the issue, illustrated with a slightly exaggerated image:
- The user activates the control by hovering the cursor in the blue area.
- The user is expected to transition from the blue area to the magenta area.
- In the current Yapp experience, the user must move the cursor through the green shaded area if they want to reach the magenta area without it closing. Put another way, if the user’s cursor is in the left or right periphery of the blue area, they must first move their cursor to the center of the blue area and then move straight down through the green area.
- In the ideal experience, the user can move in a straight line from any part of the blue area to the magenta area. I might also add a ~1/50th second delay before hiding to assist in the cases in which the user might “clip a corner” on the way from one field to another.
Anyway, that’s pretty nit-pickey.
I’m looking forward to trying the beta, Luke!