Skip to main content

Google and Agile

Does Google practice agile product management? Yes!

We see from Evelyn Rodriguez's notes that Google's product development process includes:
  • Iteration - Quickly and repeatedly produce a working version of the product for review, improving it with each iteration.
  • Experimentation - Work on high-risk products and "research" the market demand and requirements by releasing the products quickly for feedback.
  • Expedient solutions - Initially favor simple, good-enough solutions over complexity or perfection.
  • Small teams collocated with product manager - Form teams of three developers and one product manager. Scale up to larger projects by dividing large teams into smaller "modules".
  • Sparse documentation - Document requirements and design, but don't spend too much time up front.
You may be able to glean an overarching theme from the practices above: the most reliable market understanding comes from putting real products in front of users. Keep in mind that these practices don't obviate the need for a product manager, as evidenced by the fact that Google has a product manager for every three product developers. You still need someone who:
  1. Has the facilitation skills to elicit and interpret feedback from users.
  2. Understands branding principles and how they influence product requirements.
  3. Clearly distinguishes problems from solutions.
  4. Champions the needs of the market.
We at Cauvin, Inc. practice agile product management.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Interaction Design: the Neglected Skill

Your product development organization has a big, gaping hole in it. (Be prepared to feel defensive as you continue reading.) One of the most important roles in product development is the role of interaction designer. An interaction designer designs how the users will interact with the product and conceptualize the tasks they perform. He decides whether, for example, the user interface will be command driven, object oriented (clicking on objects then specifying what to do with them), or wizard based. The interaction designer decides the individual steps in the use cases. Every company has one or more people that play the interaction designer role. Usually, those people have little or no expertise in interaction design. Sadly, they typically don't even realize how unqualified they are. Let's see who typically plays the role at companies. Engineer . An engineer is an expert on building what is designed. Yes, an engineer may know how to design the internal structure of the hardware

Stop Validating and Start Falsifying

The product management and startup worlds are buzzing about the importance of "validation". In this entry, I'll explain how this idea originated and why it's leading organizations astray. Why Validate? In lean startup circles, you constantly hear about "validated learning" and "validating" product ideas: The assumption is that you have a great product idea and seek validation from customers before expending vast resources to build and bring it to market. Indeed, it makes sense to transcend conventional approaches to making product decisions . Intuition, sales anecdotes, feature requests from customers, backward industry thinking, and spreadsheets don't form the basis for sound product decisions. Incorporating lean startup concepts , and a more scientific approach to learning markets, is undoubtedly a sounder approach. Moreover, in larger organizations, sometimes further in the product life-cycle, everyone seems to have an opinio