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It has been 20 years since the agile manifesto was introduced, and closer to 40 years since software development began moving away from a waterfall-type approach. While many teams have seen great success, others still struggle to reap the full benefits of agile.
To better understand how successful product teams and organizations work, we had a conversation with John Cutler to unpack the art of thinking big and working small.
Read on for key takeaways, watch the full discussion, or check out the full article here.
Are you working too big? What have you learned about your customers lately? If you haven’t learned anything in a while, you might be working too big. This might feel “sludgy,” with long stretches of feeling like you’re not making progress.
Are you working too small? How is your work linked to a larger strategy and mission? You probably feel like you’re making progress, but if you look back, you see disjointed, reactive work.
Defining big and working small: Do you have a huge backlog that is already sized? You’ve defined a massive project but merely broken it into smaller pieces. Although you might frequently integrate and reduce risk, there is little room to respond to learning or feedback.
Thinking big, working small: Does your team have a coherent strategy linked to a compelling mission? Think big and work small helps teams recognize the benefits of both! This approach allows teams to think strategically about impact and outcomes beyond the next 3-6 months, and sequence work with the riskiest assumptions first. It also builds in time to experiment, learn, and validate.
Tips for teams:
Start with the “why,” not the way. Create a learning backlog, and prioritize what you have to learn.
Build shared language. A taxonomy of work helps you better describe different shapes or types of work in your company.
Think big, work small is a direction and mindset versus precise guidelines or a checklist to follow.
There were so many great takeaways as we unpacked the art of thinking big and working small; we’d love to hear what resonated with you!
John Cutler is the Head of Product Research & Education at Amplitude. As a former UX researcher at AppFolio, a product manager at Zendesk,Pendo.io, AdKeeper, and RichFX, a startup founder, and a product team coach, John has a perspective that spans individual roles, domains, and product. Check out more of John's work & get Amplutude’s North Star framework for free!
Kelly Drozd (me!) I am a Product Marketer at Atlassian and an agile enthusiast. I am passionate about continuous improvement and helping teams work better together. Before starting at Atlassian, I was responsible for leading agile adoption and transformation efforts across Marketing teams at the world's largest children's healthcare charity.