[Note: Author is creator of Roo Kids App, an Instant Messaging app for children where parents have access to the contacts and always know who the kid is chatting with.]
Easing Children into Real World
As automobiles started to became a commonplace on the roads, parents started teaching their children how to cross a road. Our schools started talked about safety habits around the roads. School buses added STOP sign, so traffic could give way to a kid crossing the road.
The Digital Future
Digital future is inevitable and some argue we are already there. As the 4th Industrial Revolution rolls in, how do we ease and educate our kids into such a world?
Not Just The Parents
No, it is not the responsibility of just the parents. It is everybody’s concern. Especially those who are involved in creation of products (including startup founders who are re-inventing the world). Will it be easy for kids to step into this re-invented world? Or, will they stumble and fall prey to it?
Manifesto For Children Inclusive Digital Future
We (Startup Founders, Product Managers, Product Designers, Product Business Managers, Technologist) are developing products and helping others do it while keeping children in mind.
Through this work we have come to value:
Products that provide an overlap of safety oversight & digital access over products that are command-control tools or promote digital ignorance
[Rather than building products that isolate tech or isolate kids, we will build products that 1/ expose enough for kids to learn & explore and 2/ provide tools to provide sufficient oversight to maintain safety.]
Products that consider incidental or accidental use by children over products that assume otherwise
[Never assume that a child will not incidentally or accidentally access our product. Have we considered that in our design, implementation and usage guidelines? Responsibility towards children is not restricted to products created for children.]
Products that respect individuality, intelligence and privacy of a child over products that make stereotypic generalization like age ranges, gender, etc.
[Standardization makes sense when we can’t customize at scale. Digital products allow for customization and personalization at large scale. Digital products should adapt to a child and present a match but without violation of privacy and then providing for sufficient anonymity. Privacy also includes providing children enough space where they are assured privacy in context of parents too but always within a safe space.]
That is, while there was value in the items on the right in early days of digital evolution, we value the items on the left more.
Shuhari roughly translates to “first learn, then detach, and finally transcend.”
Yesterday November 26th I attended Converge Bangalore. It was a great event. Check out tweets with hashtag #ConvergeBangalore. This talk covered various ways we stay ahead to create solutions whose needs are just coming above the horizons.
I started off with talking how your software is NOT the product. However, when we put the Software in a context of a Problem / Opportunity, identify / establish a Ecosystem, find a Product – Market Fit, identify the Early Adopters, Value Prop for Early Adopters and decide on the Success / Failure Metrics. Adding to this are Services that enable Adoption, Usability and the Ecosystem. This is when software takes form of a Product / Solution.
I often put is as:
Solution = (Software + Service) * Context
The talked about concept of Shu-ha-ri (Learn – Digress – Transcend) and linked it to the evolution of creating software to solution and propose what the next step will be.
Shu / Learn
Ha / Digress
Ri / Transcend
Evolution of Product
While the day talked about moving from Software to Solution, I proposed that Solution was a Ha / Digress of Software. To Ri / Transcend, we should move to Working Business Model. This is the ultimate state of a software.
While Solution is beneficial for a client/customer, a Working Business Model is beneficial for the organization itself. Only a organization that can sustain itself can continue to provide solution.
Product development thrives in an organization geared for Product Thinking. Else, the product development becomes a project governed by schedules & resource management, rather than being governed by MVPs, Product Backlog and Value delivered. Steven Sinofsky talks about impact of organization structures on Product in this blog. This Product Thinking must be adopted at all levels, including CxO. This is different than being hands-on with Product Development (which in itself is a topic of discussion). Role of a Product Manager (different than a Product Owner) becomes important and this article by Josh Elman is the right starting point for anyone wanting to understand Product Management.
Effective Product Development
Product Managers (ProMa) are the keepers of the vision and are expected to keep the developers, support, operations, marketing, sales, people champions and recruitment true to vision. This is a large responsibility and often leads to personal time management crunch & lots of meetings. Brandon Chu blogs about applying right leverage as ProMa is an inspirational piece on what to focus on.
As organisations move from being IT to a Product Organization, one this they need to bring in is the Product Mindset, they need to manage the change very well. Seeing Products as way to deliver value to customers rather than a item of sale can help management with product thinking. Thinking of a Product as a whole entity like psychologist may do with a human and not as sub-systems and codes like a surgeon may see a human, does help developers and project managers start on path of Product Thinking.
Product Development How-To
Product Development is a well researched flow with some well documented methodologies. And of course, there is always room for dissatisfaction that precedes any innovation. While on methodologies, Marek Kirejczyk talks aboutHype Driven Development (everyone loves that latest hyped up tech/tools) and how to move away from it. There are many articles geared towards CxO on latest tech hype. Like this Insights article by Jim Highsmith and Neal Ford onMicroservices. by This 4-part Illustrated Guide to Product Development by Ben Einstein is a must see!
A backlog is a list of features or technical tasks which the team maintains and which, at a given moment, are known to be necessary and sufficient to complete a project or a release:
if an item on the backlog does not contribute to the project’s goal, it should be removed;
on the other hand, if at any time a task or feature becomes known that is considered necessary to the project, it should be added to the backlog.
These “necessary and sufficient” properties are assessed relative to the team’s state of knowledge at a particular moment; the backlog is expected to change throughout the project’s duration as the team gains knowledge.
The backlog is the primary point of entry for knowledge about requirements, and the single authoritative source defining the work to be done.
Not That Backlog
Various terms exist for a backlog being used in Agile development. Based on scope / tradition, terms Story Backlog, Feature Backlog, Epics Backlog, Development Backlog and at times Product Backlog too are used.
I will refer to these as Story Backlog so I can differentiate it with the Product backlog I am introducing in this write-up.
The agile story backlog in Scrum is a prioritized features list, containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product. A typical Scrum backlog comprises the following different types of items:
A story backlog is a prioritized list of work for the development team that is derived from the roadmap and its requirements. The most important items are shown at the top of the story backlog so the team knows what to deliver first. The development team doesn’t work through the backlog at the product owner’s pace and the product owner isn’t pushing work to the development team. Instead, the development team pulls work from the story backlog as there is capacity for it, either continually (kanban) or by iteration (scrum).
A Product Backlog is prioritized features list, containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product, with a business value for each feature clearly quantified along with source of the feature request / inspiration.
Product Backlog Card
A take at what a Product Card can look like:
Theme / Module
Action – Expected Result / I want to – So That / Feature / Inception time Epic
Success Metric (to judge value delivered)
Failure Metric (to trigger a re-learn / re-analyze)
I am still not sure if Priority would still make sense given that Value Ranking is there. The reason I have added it is because Priority represents the perspective on person who is creating this card and Value Ranking is a quantitative analysis based on weightage. Value Ranking is a kind of check on the ‘gut feel’ or ’emotional’ Priority.
I think Source is important. We should link back to the CRM entry, the social media post, a market study, email, etc that lead to creation of this. It is important to refer to that original content which can be referred to as-is in future and considered as ‘interpretation free’ source which a ProMa used.
Scoping Product Backlog Card
How much work is a feature? There are some questions that a ProMa should ask to give BAs, IMs, Dev a good idea of breadth of work involved. There is, always, more to a feature than just implementation. Look at the suggested list to get an idea what I mean here:
Is a GTM time identified?
If yes, date?
Does it need marketing collaterals?
Does it need sales collaterals?
Does it need support collaterals?
Does it need user collaterals?
Does it need change in process?
Does it need change in people & behaviour?
Does it need change in how users interact?
Does it need change in tech?
Does it bring in regulatory & legal aspect?
Does it bring in un-handled regulatory & legal aspect?
Does it need extra/new licenses?
Does it get covered by existing licensing model?
Security & Safety
Does it need extra security focus?
A yes on any of these, will affect the scope of work and for folks other than the Devs. It is important to look beyond the functionality during implementation.
Prioritizing Product Backlog
Quantifying Product Vision
A feature can be seen to provide / contribute to one or more of following values at various levels:
Based on the vision, these six can be given various weightage.
Eg: 1/ A product like say ‘Am-Behind App’ is playing catch up on feature parity with competition, the weightage can be: