West London Lean Coffee – 28th July

I’m the organiser of the West London Lean Coffee meet-up – here’s a write-up of the July event.

(If you are wondering what a Lean Coffee is then take a look at the Lean Coffee website to find out more).

Topics We Discussed At Lean Coffee

Which Is Better – Move Fast and Break Things Or Test Thoroughly?

A great discussion about whether it’s better to release rapidly and test more in production vs testing and then making a release to production. It’s key in this situation to understand how any changes will be monitored in production, how quickly deployed changes can be rolled back or patched, and how released work is supported. Books like Continuous Delivery and also Lean Startup are good places to start to lean more.

I gave the example of Pokemon Go, where a worldwide phenomenon has occurred and been very successful despite the quality being actually very poor.

Product Manager vs Project Manager

We talked about the differences between product managers and project managers. Is there a difference or is it just semantics? Does the widespread adoption of agile and the product owner role mean that we now see more Product Managers? My take on this is more about permanence – a project is essentially transient in nature and therefore a project manager will manage many different projects over time, whereas a product manager becomes the expert at something more permanent, i.e. a product. But, as was brought up in the discussion, how does one define a product anyway, and since products change so rapidly then is there really a difference between product and project management anyway?

Keeping Teams Engaged

How do you keep a team engaged between projects? Is 20% time, hack days, shipit days and learning enough, when the gap is long and the team’s vision isn’t clear enough? We talked about how you could focus teams, including involving them in project definition decisions as well as the other options mentioned above.

Lean – With a Working Prototype, How Far Back To MVP Should You Go?

We talked about the importance of MVP and how far back towards MVP should you go, particularly when you are a lone inventor of a hardware solution rather than something purely in software. Topics included defining your measurable business goals, how to measure these and how to ensure that you produce a true minimum feature set for validation. And how this is difficult when you have such as emotional attachment to a particular idea.

Topics We Didn’t Get To Talk About

  • People management while trying to be agile
  • How to work with or manage someone who doesn’t like to document their work in detail
  • Experience using lean with physical products (as an aside – if you are reading this and you do have experience then please get in touch)
  • Working in an agile manner with consultants

Hope to see everyone next time, which will be in September. If you haven’t been before and fancy coming along then join the meetup group.

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