Product Management: Are we blinded by Agile?
Agile without customer focus leads to feature clutter. Emphasize value creation and ask critical questions to deliver meaningful software.

Imagine if your agile software development ends up in a feature-cluttered desert where 80% of the features are barely used, as a study by Pendo shows. What’s going wrong there? Is agile the problem or perhaps the solution that doesn’t go far enough?

Agile methodologies, like Scrum and Kanban, are excellent for creating efficient and effective software development teams. But if you and your team apply these methods unthinkingly, focusing only on getting even faster and better at your processes, you can easily miss the point: The value your software delivers to its users. After all, what good is the most efficient software development if the finished product doesn’t appeal to its users or meet their needs?

Introducing product management into the development environment is not just an add-on to agile practices. Rather, it is an extension that emphasizes the need to put the customer at the center of the development process. Every developer doesn’t have to be a product manager, but understanding and considering the product and its value should be ingrained in every team member. The best developers are those who understand that their work goes beyond just coding and that their code serves a purpose: to create value for users.

📜 Despite its central importance, the value concept is often overlooked in the Agile Manifesto and Scrum Guide. While they highlight many important principles and practices, the critical aspect of value creation remains submerged in the wealth of information.

So what preliminary work needs to be done in agile for good product work to succeed?

I personally see two undogmatic approaches as very relevant for future team success:

1️⃣ Internalize the customer focus: Everyone on the team, whether developer, designer, Product Owner or Scrum Master, must understand the value and importance of the customer. It’s not just about creating features, it’s about knowing why those features are important and what value they provide to the customer.

2️⃣ Ask critical questions to create value: an essential part of product management is questioning and discussing the benefits and value of every feature and every change you make to your product. Make sure these discussions happen regularly and are an integral part of your sprint retrospectives and backlog refinement.