Have an agile mindset? Learn how to rewire your mind for a product mindset | Deloitte US has been saved
Over the past two decades, many organizations have shifted from a waterfall to an agile development approach for planning and delivery of their largest, most critical initiatives. However, a majority of these initiatives continue to be delivered as projects. As they have embraced agile, though, savvy organizations have also transitioned to a product-based mindset that has gained traction over the past few years, due in large part to Mik Kersten’s book, Project to Product.1 The shift from project to product has enabled many of these companies to deliver better business outcomes.
Even though they’re compatible, the agile and product mindsets are different. While agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development, a product mindset views software development as a set of goals and outcomes—a product—rather than short-term milestones. Leaders who have typically led agile-based initiatives but want to transition to a product mindset often have questions such as:
Given that agile and product mindsets differ, there are nuances to each that leaders should be aware of and understand as they seek to answer these questions and use both approaches to build and deliver applications.
The agile mindset
Agile can mean different things to different people. However, the Agile Manifesto, created in 2001, has four values that mark agile development initiatives. The Agile Manifesto values:
Teams that achieve excellent productivity and really represent an agile mindset also have a few common traits. They are:
Evolving from agile to a product mindset
With its focus on customers and outcomes, the product mindset extends the agile mindset to develop a longer-term approach to delivering value for customers—prioritizing features, developing road maps, making data-driven decisions, focusing on outcomes rather than outputs, and delighting customers.
To evolve from agile to a product mindset, it’s crucial to rely on “muscle memory” from agile and to create new “muscles” as well. So, what new muscles should be built? The following five have emerged as most critical:
Agile and product make a good combination
No two initiatives are the same, but there are some fundamental principles that can be applied to almost any of them. First, agile’s iterative approach can save development time and resources. Second, a product mindset helps teams focus more on outcomes and value delivery than on gates and milestones. Companies that take an agile approach, and evolve to couple that with product mindset, can build stronger teams and deliver better business outcomes.
1 Mik Kersten, Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework (Portland, OR: IT Revolution Press, 2018).
2 Taken from the “Agile Manifesto,” accessed July 11, 2022.
Manoj is a managing director at Deloitte Consulting LLP. He has more than 20 years of experience advising senior Technology executives in the areas of innovation, strategy and software applications. He helps solve complex business problems by architecting and leveraging multi-service technologies. Manoj has deep expertise in the areas of large scale software development, building hyper performing teams, and has setting up global software development factories from the ground up. He has also advised clients on Enterprise Automation strategy, Automation CoE set up and leveraging Automation to dramatically reduce Technology Operate cost. He serves clients in the Financial Services, Media, Technology, Travel and Hospitality industry segments. Manoj leads Deloitte’s Agile and DevOps practice for the US firm and is the executive sponsor for the Agile DevOps excellence hub for Deloitte.