“The best way to predict the future is to study the past, or prognosticate.” ― Robert Kiyosaki
Finally, we’re at part 3 of this 3 part series, where I get to stick my neck out and make predictions … forecasts that are primarily driven by observations made during the collection of data for my first two posts.
If you’ve not yet had a chance to see my two time lines, why not take a second? They’re fun, they’re easy, they’re incomplete, the first being comprised of Agile-minded events that have influenced the evolution of Product Management, and the second an aggregation of DevOps-ish items contributing to advancements in Continuous Integration and Delivery.
Prediction 1 — Greater Adoption of Experimentation
Ok, so what do my two time lines have to do with do with the greater adoption by of experimentation by product management in 2019? Let’s answer that question with yet another time line. A compelling visual that comes from slide 7 of a presentation titled “Driving Agile Product Development with Experimentation” by Adil Aijaz, the CEO of Split.io.
The above image, along with the compelling conclusion that follows 2 slides later, makes me wonder if we don’t have a disconnect between DevOps and Product Management?
In other words, while we are now blessed with CI/CD technology that helps us to deliver features faster, it seems that many of us in product are still stuck on doing Agile right. The overall result is delivering crap faster.
This is where I think experimentation will come into play in 2019, as it serves as the strategic bridge for product people who want to realign their energies along value delivery rather than fastidious Scrumlieness.
For those not yet engaged in such conversations, may I suggest Stephen Pavlovich’s video titled ‘Using Experimentation to Drive Product’ as a good place to start.
Prediction 2 — A greater focus on Outcomes over Output
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” ― Aldous Huxley
Now I suspect that some of y’all may disagree with my prognosis of a disconnect between DevOps and Product Management, so perhaps this next prediction might offer some additional insights to consider.
It is within this context I think that many of us have had enough of the pissing battles over whether or not we as product people are doing Scrum right, wrong, or not at all because 90’s style capacity planning is still the bomb.
This is why I think 2019 will be filled with conversations on outcomes over output. If you want a primer on how to dive into such discussions like a pro, I can think of no better resource than Melissa Perri’s new book “Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value.”
Prediction 3 — Consolidation of PO and PM
“History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’” — Eduardo Galeano
Roman Pichler writes in his blog post Product Manager vs. Product Owner: “… some approaches like SAFe employ a separate product manager and product owner role in order to facilitate scaling. Using a strategic product role and a tactical one is a common scaling technique.”
Perri goes onto say in chapter 6 of her book ‘Build Trap’ “… product managers are essentially Waterfalling down the requirements, and the teams are not allowed to prove whether these are the right things to build. No one is doing validation work.”
As we continue to move more towards experimentation-driven product management, and as we continue to see tools such as Split and Amplitude democratize the ability to garner feedback quickly, we will then also see a consolidation of the Product Owner role and into the Product Manager job … or vice versa.
Such is already happening in a number of startups. Expect to see this happening in an enterprise setting near you in 2019 as this not only helps identify revenue returning value … but also potentially cuts costs.
Prediction 4 — Automation of the Product Owner role
“The best prophet of the future is the past.” ― Lord Byron
As some of you know, my ongoing work in full-text search has given me a front seat in observing the convergence of search and machine learning technologies.
Similarly, anyone who’s worked with tools like Elastic Kibana’s improvements in the area of time series anomaly detection or Google Cloud’s Natural Language capabilities will tell you, it’s become much easier and much cheaper to slice-n-dice words, workflows, and log data.
Given these inexpensive tools, coupled with a rise of product management related software solutions, I expect we’ll see the more mundane text-based and workflow “librarian” tasks of product ownership automated in 2019.
True AI automations possibly occurring in the years that follow, after these initial waters are tested.
Prediction 5 — Auditions over Interviews
“Study the past if you would define the future.” ― Confucius
There’s more than enough bloggery and ezine articles kvetching about the wretched state of hiring, especially in IT. So why do we keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting better results?
I mean honestly, how much can a first-job-phone-screener-gate-keeper tell about an individual’s ability to create a backlog that is experimentation friendly when candidates have to first navigate past poorly configured ATS black holes only to answer valueless question such as “Can you tell me what your greatest weakness is?”
Seems to this recovering opera singer that given the number of soft skills, client conversations, story writing, coaching, and product demos required of a product person that we should switch from a resume+ interview process to body-of-work+audition process.
Which is why I’d like to encourage those of you hiring in 2019 to include product people when you sponsor hack-a-thons, un-conferences, and Meetups. Go and head and publish on GitHub in advance what your ‘homework’ assignments and in-person demos might cover. If you’re concerned over complaints about ‘free work’, then aim these efforts at an existing open source project.
Quite honestly, while this is a far-flung prediction for 2019, I’m more than glad to offer my years of experience both as a past product director and professional performer on how you can set these type of framework up without a huge budgetary investment.
It’s easier thank you think. It’s more fun than the law allows. And what’s the worst that can happen, you get to know your product community better?
Finally — Dean Goals
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” — Zig Ziglar
And what list of predictions would be complete without some of my own goals for 2019.
- Continue to blog regularly about product management.
- Greatly expand my implementation of experimentation.
- Produce a podcast titled ‘Software Product Therapy.’
- Speak (and sing) at more meetups and conferences.
- Meet and learn about as many of you as is humanly possible.
I’ll let you know in about 365 days how this all went. Until then, I hope you and all your loved ones enjoy a blessed and beautiful 2019.