Culture Leadership Product Development

Marty Cagan Article :: Devolving from Good to Bad

I’m a huge fan of Marty Cagan, and his common sense approach and light methodology for product development (Dual Track Agile). I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him many times when I was part of the team leading the charge at Weight Watchers transitioning from a project-based development shop to a product-based one.

In his latest article, Devolving from Good to Bad, he explains a potential negative effect if a smaller shop brings in too senior talent too early because of the impact that it will have on the culture. I’ve seen this in my career and also have heard of cases from my development friends – the situation where a senior level person from one of the “big guys” comes in, and the small, nimble team doesn’t know what to do. His article is great watch-out for growing companies.

I’ve also seen the opposite happen, where an established company with very senior leaders, heavy governance and process hire senior leaders that are from the smaller shops. Usually, those from smaller organizations are faced with a lot of resistance to their ideas and methods because their processes haven’t been proven.

I usually find myself siding with each side in different scenarios. For example, if there is a major system with millions of users, probably don’t want to move to continuous development overnight, but directionally, let’s find a way to make it work. The level of risk taking that can be permissible at a smaller shop is usually frowned upon at a larger, recognizable brand that has not only millions of customers but also shareholders to answer to.

The balance to make sure there isn’t destruction to a trusted company and brand is a topic for another post, but my quick opinion is that if the desired outcomes are achieved, the “how” usually isn’t up for debate any longer.

Check out Marty Cagan’s article here ->

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