Predictable Delivery is Not What you Want

Hey there๐Ÿ™‚

Project mindset is about controlling a plan to ensure you deliver what you set out in the set time period.

This stifles innovation.

A product mindset is thinking long-term, embrace continuous improvement, data-driven and user centeric, cross-functional teams with shared responsibilities.

Innovation isnโ€™t just building new technology but can be finding new ways to cut costs, improving operating models and ways of working.

This gets hard with multiple teams and at scale but not impossible.

In todays edition:

Major capital projects moving from project-delivery model

Project Delivery Disguised as Product for Predictable Delivery

How Trainline moved from classic IT Project Delivery to Product Model

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

Shane Drumm, newsletter editor

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Last week I asked you โ€œDo you spend time manually entering data or creating documents?โ€ and it turns out a lot of you doโ€ฆ

Results from last weeks poll

I would love to know the types of data entry you do and some example sto see if I can help youโ€ฆ


Move from a Projects to Product Model

A project-delivery model that has remained largely unchanged for a quarter of a century or more.

It is a model plagued by issues and inefficiencies:

a lack of integrated systems thinking;

prioritizing short-term cost management over long-term outcomes;

poor communication between stakeholders;

and bespoke projects and rigid planning systems that struggle to identify or adapt to changing demands.

Other industries have already transformed their ability to deliver complex projects.

For example, lean-management techniques helped manufacturing companies achieve year-on-year productivity and quality improvements that reshaped the sector.

Since the 1990s, the adoption of digital tools and new processes in product development have helped car makers reduce the time required to design a new vehicle from more than three years to less than two.

Most recently, the digitization of manufacturing using Industry 4.0 technologies has allowed some early adopters to double productivity and factory output, while others have reduced manufacturing lead times by as much as 90 percent.ย 

In IT, many companies have abandoned their unwieldy โ€œwaterfallโ€ project models in favor of agile techniques that use small, cross-functional teams, rapid, iterative development cycles, and continual testing.

That said some IT companies are still getting it wrong even though they are have an agile model.

It is still a project deliver model. Let me explainโ€ฆ.

Agile Project Delivery Model

In 2019, I was part of a the working group who worked with a team of consultants that introduced a new scaled agile operating model which was supported the the CIO.

The top 3 problems the CIO wanted improved though wereโ€ฆ

Traceability back to customer requirements

Customers and projects do not have visibility over the plan

There is no single view of the work to allow for consistent prioritisation across the whole portfolio.

The goal of the model was to enable greater visibility, insights and predictability in the delivery approach to provide better decisions across the portfolio.

The result was a Agile Project Delivery Model that is similar to SAFe.

How the operating model was sold to the company leadership

Project Delivery Disguised as Product

The model had the following principles:

Stop starting, start finishing

Focus on holistic value

Create visibility

Limit WIP

Estimates and customer needs are hypotheses

Measure and learn

Outcomes focused

Which are very product related and great principles.

The processes and ceremonies contradicted these though such:

Extensive Quarterly Planning

Portfolio Weekly SoS

Detailed Roadmaps

Cross Team Planning

The result was teams had to spend time decomposing work to try get accurate estimates items, get work prioritized via extensive forums, provide weekly status updates on progress to ensure we could predict deliver of product features.

It was my first experience feature factory.

Projects have start and finish times which make them predictable

This was a company who claimed to be product-focused organization but in reality they were a project-focused company who had a couple of products.

I actually though predictable deliver was a good thing for a moment in time.

I was wrong though.

That is not how to be outcome focused orโ€ฆ

focus on holistic value orโ€ฆ.

have an experimental mindset based on hypotheses!!!!!!

This stifled innovation and demotivated people. They were prioritizing short term cost management over long term gains.

It was a great experience to see how not to do things though. I think I have had some of best learnings from seeing what doesnโ€™t work.

My lessons learnedโ€ฆ

It was a one iteration and done philosophy cause once they finished we were onto the next thing so the next iteration had to be prioritized against other items in the backlog.

No real ownership of the problem cause we were being assigned the next piece of work prioritized by the PMO. We tried to ensure we built something functional with expectation to be moving onto next thing.

Tech debt was being built up quickly with little care from team of engineering management as long as we delivered the features.

This Agile Project Delivery Model seems to quiet common via digital factories where output is the most important thing.

How to Do it Differently using Product Mindset

Firstly, if we compare what a product mindset is vs a project. There is a lot of overlap with the original agile principles with a product mindset.

Your processes need to compliment your principles and vice versa. Everybody wants to be a product model but little actually talk the talk and walk the walk.

ACTIONABLE ADVICE – Weekly Wins Meeting

Reward teams for delivering a business outcome, learning something, removing a feature, interview insights. At Trainline they have a weekly wins meeting where product teams share with each other.

Setup a similar meeting for 30mins no schedule but provide guidelines and encourage product people to take ownership but also try include their team members to start sharing.


Trainline just a few years ago, was classic IT. They had no technology to speak of, and the private investment firm, private equity firm, Iโ€™m trying to remember which one it was, but they saw this company.

So this is ridiculous, they should be a tech company.

And so they bought them. And in a few short years, they turned it into one of the best product organisations in my opinion in the world.

Listen to Claire the CEO who helped spearhead this transformation to get more information about them.


โญ North Star Framework Template ready made for workshops

๐Ÿ“ย The Product Vision Board Checklist to win over the business

๐Ÿ›ฃ๏ธ Product Roadmap Kit to help deliver product outcomes

๐Ÿ“‡ย Retrospective Templates Rolodex to keep teams engaged

๐Ÿ‘คย User Stories | Examples and Template

๐Ÿ’ผ Want to work in a product driven organization?

Jobs Archive | Product HQ

Product Manager Job Board – The #1 Product Manager Job Board!

Jobs – Product Management Jobs – Powered by Mind the Product


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