LeSS Talks: Empowered Product Teams; Let’s Revisit The NNPG, with Gordon Weir

The New New Product Development Game (NNPG) [Takeuchi, Nonaka, 1986] introduced to a far greater audience what the most successful product companies were doing at the time. The research found that the most significant influence for successful products is the creation of teams that follow “a holistic or “rugby” approach—where a team tries to go the distance as a unit, passing the ball back and forth—may better serve today’s competitive requirements”. These accountable and empowered teams are critical to the success of product development, this is still true. It was this paper that was a key influencer for Ken and Jeff when they invented Scrum, for those who don’t know, a “scrum” is something that is an activity of the game of rugby. But there is something missing in the application of the ideas defined in the NNPDG to software product development.

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Let us be clear, software development is a wicked hard problem. Scrum and the adoption of cross-functional teams are very elegant and a simple way to help deal with the inherent complexity. The issue is that it assumes deciding what to build is simple, “it’s the job of the product owner to define and prioritize”. Gordon has worked for many years as a product manager and has found that figuring out what problem a product is solving and even why it should be built in the first place is a wicked hard problem. What the NNPDG describes are teams that define what to build and why, what it does not do is talk about the factory that is making the product.

Cross-functional teams can work to effectively solve both wicked hard problems, but in different ways and with different goals. How do we put these constructs together to develop a product?

Gordon will investigate his thinking on empowered teams with you and talk through his approaches.

Contact the speaker Gordon Weir.

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