It took me a very long time and many different roles to validate this statement.
I don’t care about my job function, specific responsibilities, or using the latest software approach, technique, or tool. I care about being part of a team that operates smoothly and efficiently, and, most importantly, can deliver quality, impactful software at a sustainable pace.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy, and deeply value, all aspects of product delivery like product management, product design, and project/program management. However any single part cannot be successful if the whole team cannot deliver together.
No delivery = no product.
Late or poor product = no customers, unhappy customers, unhappy investors, missed window of opportunity, customer churn, decreased revenue, etc.
Stellar product delivery is the umbrella for success. The individual practices within are essential pieces, but each, in isolation, is more forgiving to pivot, learn, and iterate. However, if you can’t deliver product, you won’t ever have a jumping-off point.
Efficient delivery through enablement
Product delivery is like beekeeping & delivering honey to customers.
Whoever plays the role of keeping delivery on point is not the manager, boss, or queen bee, but rather, the enabler. Responsibilities include:
Observing and studying, while watching for inefficiencies (bee curious)
Ensuring team well-being, health, and motivation, which leads to productivity (regularly inspect hive)
Allowing mistakes as part of learning and assisting in recovery when needed (lots of trial & error)
Creating a safe, trusting environment (hive maintenance and winter prep)
Removing blockers when they arise (eradicating pests & disease)
Any team member or manager can be in charge of delivery — project or program managers, scrum masters, product managers, or tech leads.
Regardless of Who, the What remains the same — ensure smooth, efficient, quality execution through attentive and inquisitive servant leadership. Work alongside the team, not above the team.
That’ll give you the desired output (honey) for your users & customers every time.
Mindset over approach
First, I mastered waterfall.
I had enormous physical 3-ring binders of the strict processes & entrance/exit criteria that had to be followed for success. Then, I helped several companies transition to agile (even when printing things was still helpful). Within agile, I focused on scrum and learned about various agile methods finding fame. Next, I aspired to the kanban neverland. And most recently, I applied the handy “scrumban” hybrid.
Now, I simply don’t care.
Let’s just get it done and deliver.
Along this journey, I knew I wasn’t passionate about process. I even turned down a director role relatively early in my career because I didn’t want to be the agile cheerleader of the organization, nor did I believe this process passion was integral to their development team’s success.
It's not that agile isn’t great some of the time; it’s just not the right fit all of the time, whether in full or in part.
The approach and corresponding processes are just details.
How you operate, and the mindsets you apply when doing your work is the heart of successful delivery – that’s far more important than a specific standup regimen or how many points you accomplish in a given sprint.
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Kim uses LinkedIn to share her thoughts on product delivery, prioritization techniques, and enterprise product development and design.