6 Feature Factory Anti-Patterns

Hey there🙂

You might of known me from PM-Training.net which I have now sold and starting a new newsletter on my passion for product ways of working.

My goal is to help people new to agile and product thinking to evangelize and become product leaders in their respective organisation.

I will be sharing weekly news, templates, tools, podcasts and videos that I think can help you while discussing one main topic a week.

In todays edition:

🏭 Why feature teams exist and why they SUCK!!!

💩 Marty Cagan interview on Lenny’s podcast shakes the Agile world

💸 Why Reddits IPO is a true underdog product story

Thanks for opening this email today, hope you find it useful

Shane Drumm, newsletter editor

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Agile Product Management in Start-ups

Product management approach is natural in start-ups and gets clustered with agile methodologies as they should compliment each other.

You set a clear goal, do research, build, test, learn, repeat till you hit that goal or outcome.

You might have multiple product pivots from learning while testing. You want to experiment and learn quickly as possible.

This is where the idea of Fail Fast comes from.

Start-ups are naturally agile in nature where they expect change.

Agile isn’t making sure you follow a scrum or devops that’s just methodologies that should enable and empower teams.

If its not empowering – its wrong!!!

Then when you have realized the problem via multiple prototypes or an MVP you are ready to start scaling the solution as you cross the chasm.

Scaled Agile Product Management

Issues start when it comes to applying these techniques in Large Companies or non-tech companies who have an IT department.

The “business” has context and strategic awareness of what they want so they write up specs, canvases, charters cause they think they know what they want to achieve their outcome.

So this is passed to digital or IT department who review and expected to estimate the work to create a release plan or roadmap to deliver the request.

Also, you have leadership who have budgets to account for as hiring developers, BA, PMs, POs, SA, QA and anymore people with acronyms is expensive.

When they start hearing of problems that the teams….

Not delivering on time

Not focusing on the right thing

No visibility of what the teams are doing

Its easy to understand the frustration so they introduce a Scaled Agile Methodology like SAFe or their own version of portfolio management.

These methodologies bring structure and rigour to solve the administration problems of delivering outputs NOT to solve the actual business outcomes.

Instead you have teams who are provided a prescriptive list of work they are expected to deliver.

As they are now measured on predictable delivering not solving the business problems.

People will always try to please.

The people feel disempowered and end up questioning priorities. Frustrated with processes and not connected with the mission…..

The top people want to work where they feel like they are contributing to something bigger than them.

Instead they end up working in a DIGITAL FEATURE FACTORY.

John Cutler does an excellent job listing why or how feature factories exist and happens regularly in companies…

Business thinks they are helping by being prescriptive

Tech is in high demand so need to utilize or work towards efficiency

Commitments are made with dates that are passed to teams

Sunk cost bias leads to only detailed plans getting approved

Reluctance to “discover” requirements as solve problem

Ingrained beliefs, habits and expectations from IT service model

The problems I have seen in companies are very close to Johns list.

One of the people who passionately talks about a way to avoid these feature factories is Marty Cagan.

I have exchanged emails with Marty and he is a bit of a purist who was anti-scrum or projects with a mind that true product leaders should be leading this.

I needed ways to overcome these with tactics vs a big bang model change that Marty preaches as that’s out of my control.

It was a disappointing experience.

Its difficult to be a fan of his work but not like the individual.

He is a thought leader in product the SVPG is a excellent newsletter and his books are what I recommend to every new product person as a basic understanding of how product works in companies.

Marty has seen product model working very well in companies and wants others to follow.

When I saw him being interviewed on Lenny’s podcast I couldn’t help but listen in to see what he was preaching.

The podcast episode sent rumbles through the product community where we had influencers all chiming in on it….

What I found reassuring though is THAT OTHERS ARE LIKE ME….

They are working in places where they need to work around constraints out of their control and are trying to fight the product fight from the inside bottom up.

I’m not alone 🙂 

We all would love to have that control and agree with Marty.

He still was the same brash cocky person living in ideals of silicon valley where we all should give up or jobs if we can’t follow.

I was happy to hear in the podcast Marty acknowledges his bias and fact he is living in the silicon valley bubble.

I think he touches on something interesting points of view and products leaders might feel are too close to home but I think he just genuinely wants to share what he has seen as the best product principles to follow via his product model.

All said and done I did go out and pre-order his new book transformed and realized maybe all this controversy is the perfect book launch.

I’m hoping transformed has the examples and if he actually provides solutions to help people implement a product model in their organization.

I’ve read his other books inspired and empowered and they are a essential read for any aspiring product people.

I will keep you updated on what I learn.


Seize every opportunity to engage with customers; it’s a chance to hone vital skills such as interviewing, discovery, and effective note-taking. If product managers at your company typically don’t have this direct interaction, be proactive—join sales and support calls, collaborate with UX Research teams if they’re available. Integrate these real customer experiences into your conversations with stakeholders and teammates.


Reddit recently announced their IPO but do you know the founders original idea was a way to order fast food on your cell phone.

This was before smartphones so a bit before their time…..

Luckily though Paul Graham was one of the people they pitched it to and he saw something special in Steve and Alexis.

So when he was starting Y Combinator he helped them form the idea from improving on another product already out there. Paul tells the short story his The Reddits post.

My First Million Podcast a Personal Favourite Alternate Product Podcast

Shaan and Same dropped an emergency pod to break down Paul Graham’s essay which is a great listen where speak about how Reddit faked early traction.


North Star Framework Template ready made for workshops

📝 The Product Vision Board Checklist to win over the business

🛣️ Product Roadmap Kit to help deliver product outcomes

📇 Retrospective Templates Rolodex to keep teams engaged

👤 User Stories | Examples and Template

💼 Want to work in a product driven organization?

Jobs Archive | Product HQ

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Jobs – Product Management Jobs – Powered by Mind the Product


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