Co-Creating a Mid-Sized Product Org Change

John Cutler notes a Product Leader (PL) facing many people with different opinions about how to change the Product org. (What they have in common is the desire for change. Final outcome needs to be some variety of Agile Product Development.)

For simplicity, I'll assume

  • 1 "business"
  • 5 Product Teams
  • standard product/dev split
  • but with CTO at-least-semi-subordinate to Product Leader

I suggest an off-site to co-create a new organization design (structure re-org and process re-design).

Who should attend

  • PL
  • 5 PMs
  • CTO
  • 2 other dev managers: 1 senior, 1 junior (who was a dev in the same company before getting promoted)
  • (yeah 9 might be too many people)

Before the first session

  • PL should pull together (points off if this isn't already a set of bullet-points in the product org wiki) the company-level strategic context: vision/mission, business model canvas, scorecard/KPIs
  • DORA Four Key Metrics rubric, current values estimated enough to score org on each metric as elite/high/medium/low

First session

Review the strategic context stuff - does anyone have any issues? Consider refining them together, even if that's "only for internal use".

Review the DORA rubric/score. Does it sound right?

List the current good and bad things about the product/dev org. Modified note-and-vote process to pick 3 best and 3 worst things, keeping rest visible. Goal moving forward is to leverage the good, reduce the bad, etc.

Then co-create diagram of effects of current system. Something like at (2021-11-28) A Diagram of Effects of the AntiPatterns in a Product/Dev Team.

  • identify clusters/loops, esp related to top 3 good/bad things, and to factors affecting DORA score

Then create sign-up sheet for people to prep proposals for change.

  • each person can work alone, or people can group up
  • should include structure and process
  • should be specific to the current org - make specific list of new teams, etc.
  • should note stakeholder issues - who will hate this idea and why?

Between sessions

People write their proposals

Everyone reads all the proposals (the day before session 2?)

Session 2

Discuss proposals

  • assemble pro/con for each
  • also discuss transition process associated with each
  • also discuss any code architecture issues (Conway's Law)

Final outcome - up to the product leader

  • pick 1 winner during the meeting
  • think about it, then pick 1 winner
  • think about it, design mix of the proposals
  • have another meeting to discuss/refine the decision

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