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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Dec 20, 2019

On today’s podcast, Dan Neumann is joined by his collaborator, Sam Falco! Today they will be comparing a product-focused approach versus a project-focused approach and highlighting some of the major differences. They also cover how to apply a product mindset to a project-focused organization and offer some key tips on how to effectively implement either!


Key Takeaways

What defines a project-based approach?

A defined start and a defined end

Success is defined at the beginning by doing the project within scope, budget, and within the estimated time and to deliver on that

Check off the tasks and get to the end

This approach works best in best-practice or turnkey solutions where a defined process is always going to give you the same outcome

The focus is on completing tasks

What defines a product-based approach?

No defined beginning and end

Starting with an undefined want or need

Delivering in increments

Instead of asking, ‘Did we do all the things?’ success is defined around user adoption and user retention as well as revenue increases and/or cost savings

Think of the three Vs: Vision to Value to Validation (these three Vs are also aligned with the three pillars of empiricism [which is what Scrum is based on]: transparency, inspection, and adaptation)

With more complex work like software development, a product-based approach tends to work the best (as you will generate less waste and be able to change course as needed)

Focused on achieving outcomes

What exactly is a product?

Anything that can be put out into the market and could satisfy someone’s needs or wants

Something that will generate a benefit for the producer of the product (whether that is revenue, new customers, cost savings, etc.)

Once that value is created, you want to release frequently and get feedback from the consumers of the product

The mindset of product and some additional key pieces of information:

Creating a sustainable pace (don’t bombard people with updates nor release too infrequently)

A product mindset can be applied to a project-focused organization

Remember: mindset is not just the way we think about something; it’s thinking that drives our actions (so you can still be in a project environment but have a product mindset)

Getting a working piece of software into the hands of your customers every sprint rather than defining everything upfront


Mentioned in this Episode:

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 56: “Scrum and Agile Q & A with Christy Erbeck”

The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage,
by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons, by Bryon Powell

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, by Douglas W. Hubbard

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 27: “Deep Dive on Scrum Values with Sam Falco”

Sam Falco’s LinkedIn


Sam Falco’s Book Picks:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman


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