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Doing the right thing without using the term


Agile. Scrum. Kanban. Lean. XP. Prince. Product discovery. Customer development. User research. Usability study.
We like terms. We like processes. We like structure.
It gives us clarity, confidence and guidance. However, it could also give us a false sense of progress.

Most processes imply that if you follow them - you make progress. But is it always the case? Doing daily scrums, completing sprints, improving velocity... is this progress?
Writing user personas, crafting a prototype, digging in the Google Analytics... is this progress? Those activities could lead to progress, but sometimes those just give us a false sense of progress. It's when we are focusing on output, not outcome - we tend to be obsessed about processes.

What could make things worse is "adapting" a process to fit how we used to do things in the past. Have you ever heard people stating they do Agile having a 2-year fixed release plan? Or maybe stories about a Lean company that spends 6 months before showing their prototype to a single customer? How about a product team doing Customer development that manifests in copying customer ideas directly to the delivery backlog? People like to be trendy and use modern processes, especially when they don't need to change anything under the hood.

However, some folks are doing the right things without calling them "right" names.
  • People who are talking to their customers daily without calling that customer development or product discovery. 
  • People who are adapting and shipping valuable software often without calling that scrum or kanban or...
  • Folks who know what positive change they want to do in the world without calling it a vision. 

I was talking to a colleague in product the other day. He was telling about his plan to create a set of principals by which his product team would work. Those principals would tell any interested person in their organisation how the product team works, how they make decisions and how they judge the results.
- Oh, so you'd create a product team manifesto? - I've asked.
- So it has a name? - he smiled.
Yes, it has a name. Yet it is completely irrelevant if you know the name or not - if you're doing the right thing.

How do you know you're doing the right thing?

Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are your users getting the job done for which they employed your product? 
  • Are they satisfied with their experience? 
  • Is your company making money helping customers to do their job? 
If you could honestly answer "yes" to all those questions - you shouldn't be worried about the processes you use. You already do the right things.

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