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Agility in product development
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Agility in product development

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Some lessons from the animal world and German war strategy for product teams.

Some lessons from the animal world and German war strategy for product teams.

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  • 1. Agility You Can’t Herd Cats, But They Will Hunt Together David Hurst
  • 2. About Me ~15 years | ~12 products | Various roles Name Gaurav Marwaha Current Associated with Nucleus Software, having complete ownership of new product development for loan origination product for banks/ NBFCs. Driving the technology teams to deliver an internally re-usable product development framework. Past Have successfully lead & contributed to multiple product teams in different domains (GIS/ Health/ e-Governance) Technology Java/ big-data/ analytics/ Spring/ ESB (Camel)/ Mobile/ Social Product Conceptualization, Design, Development, Maintenance, EOL Soft Team building, coaching, mentoring LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/in/gauravmarwaha/
  • 3. About Presentation Goal oriented agility and teams Animals 1 A look at the social structure of some hunting animals. Small groups of big cats and wolves hunt together but they are different from dogs. Mission Command 2 Lessons from the German war strategy called “Auftragstaktik”. Product Development 3 The applicability to product development and lessons I learnt somewhat related topics. from two completely different but References 4 References and links to pictures/ articles/ other material if used from Internet
  • 4. Animals 1 A look at the social structure of some hunting animals. Small groups of big cats and wolves hunt together but they are different from dogs.
  • 5. • About Goal oriented agility and teams Presentation David Hurst: “You Can’t Herd Cats, But They Will Hunt Together” The key is to create a common goal which drives the team and then let the team strategize to achieve the goal. Different from the standard command-control structures.
  • 6. • About Goal oriented agility and teams Presentation Wolves: stay in packs of 5 – 11, hunt together The pack has an alpha male and it stays and hunts together. There is no direction but a common goal to bring down a larger animal which no one wolf can single handedly kill.
  • 7. Lessons TEAM SIZE Small is good Smaller teams are lean and more flexible to change they understand their peers and develop a sense of social bonding with a fair bit of healthy competition. GOAL CLARITY Crystal clear goals Teams should have clear and concise definition of the goals, focus on what has to be done rather than how. Teams with clear goals will be able to find paths to achieve them utilizing strengths of peers. ROLES & TYPES Product Lifecycles Domestication of lions and wolves have not yielded good results. Dogs and sheep flourish in presence of humans and respond well to love and affection. The choice of teams will vary on the goals being set.
  • 8. Mission Command 2 Lessons from the German war strategy called “Auftragstaktik”.
  • 9. Auftragstaktik Mission type tactics/ Mission command Führung durch Aufträge An order shall contain everything that a commander cannot do by himself, but nothing else. History & Officer Selection Focus on WHAT Conceived by the german field marshal Von Moltke at a time when the Prussian army was too disciplined and highly centralized. Surrounded by hostile nations it could not have imagined to win wars against all. Highly rigorous training program for officers where selection ratios were very low was developed. Even the most junior officers were required to make far reaching decisions. Sample: "Gentlemen, I demand that your divisions completely cross the German borders, completely cross the Belgian borders and completely cross the River Meuse. I don't care how you do it, that's completely up to you." The Mechanics Effectiveness •The commander briefs his intent to two levels down •Explains the rules and objective •Allocates people & resources •The subordinate understands the objectives & rules and agrees to the contract. Can ask for more resources. •The subordinate then decides on a plan to achieve the objective. Refer to the book by Jörg Muth (Command Culture) and the analysis of the German army by USA it was found that the key concepts of intiative, flexibility and mobility were inculcated to German officers which allowed them to meet challenges with changing situations faster & better.
  • 10. Product Development 3 The applicability to product development and lessons I learnt somewhat related topics. from two completely different but
  • 11. Product Development Why the similarity? Time to market 1 Time to market is a key measure of the success of products and product features. Once envisaged a product/ feature has to reach the customers at the right time too early and too late both have proven to be disastrous. For faster time to market we need agile, nimble and flexible teams who can produce more in an ever changing environment. Quiet similar to war and hunts. Where time hunt/ attack plays critical role Competition 2 Strategy Enemy is too harsh a synonym for competition but quiet like war there is cut throat competition in the corporate world. Just like war there is tremendous amount of strategy which goes into product conceptualization and product development. Especially so in products where features can be copied much more easily eroding customer base to a newer better implementation of a feature by competition is seen very often. To stay ahead strategic planning on roadmap and timely delivery of roadmap items is key. 3 Like a hunt/ war the correct strategy and business plan can help companies whereas wrong ones can ruin.
  • 12. Product Development Correlations and concept applicability Goals 1 Clear, concise and achievable goals Teams 2 Small/ medium/ large numbers define these? what Commander 3 What is the role of the commander? No team can chase a running target which they know has capacity to outpace them. Just like animals on a hunt we set sight on the target, form a plan to get to that milestone and work to get there. If the milestone is hazy or keeps shifting the team will get frustrated. The capacity to deliver will come down. Likewise shorter runs with well defined milestones will give the teams breathing space to re-group, plan and improve their tactics.
  • 13. Product Development Correlations and concept applicability Goals 1 Clear, concise and achievable goals Teams 2 Small/ medium/ large numbers define these? what Commander 3 What is the role of the commander? The animals hunt in packs of 5 to 11. Scrum practitioners advise teams of this size are a good practice. I do not know if there is a corelation but from past experience smaller teams tend to gel well and stand up to each other. The key is to understand the strengths and waknesses of the team members and play them to best advantage of the group. Once on a mission remember that the joy of achievement of a successful mission heals/ numbs the wounds/ casualties incurred on the way.
  • 14. Product Development Correlations and concept applicability Goals 1 Clear, concise and achievable goals Teams 2 Small/ medium/ large numbers define these? what Commander 3 What is the role of the commander? It may sound simple but the commander plays a key role. The choice of the right leader is key to the success of the team. Animals can fight to choose the alpha-male/ leader of the pack but the same may not be possible for product teams. The correct selection criteria with a proven track record can help. Once in place the commander has to mentor, educate and steer the team to the objective. The closer the commander is to the real warfront the easier it will be for him/ her to infer and take sound decisions.
  • 15. References 4 References and links to pictures/ articles/ other material if used from Internet
  • 16. References Attribution to blogs/ images and other links Mission Command a blog post by David Kurst from 5th Drucker forum: http://www.davidkhurst.com/mission-command-a-paradoxicalphilosophy-whose-time-has-come/ Article on the German mission-control war strategy: http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/09/09/an_elusive_command_philosophy_and_a_different_command_culture Another post from David Hurst from 5th Drucker forum: http://www.davidkhurst.com/you-cant-herd-cats-but-they-will-hunt-together/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auftragstaktik Wolves hunting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Canis_lupus_pack_surrounding_Bison.jpg Lionesses hunting: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hunting_lionesses_ngorongoro4.jpg
  • 17. THANK YOU! Your Logo