Finding the Joy with Agile Product Management

- Many Product Managers find themselves overloaded with work as Agile has been introduced
Agile methodologies intensify the development and increase speed by 20-50% in deliveries. The product management way of working is challenged and must drastically change to leverage the value generated. Many Product Managers find themselves overloaded with work as Agile has been introduced. We have on the other hand found Product Managers that are filled with joy, pride and a great working environment. What is their secret? What have they done that is different from the rest?


The successful Agile Product Manager

We meet Product Managers every day. We work with Product Managers who generate great profits and happy customers. We also meet Product Managers who are overloaded with work, frustrated beyond limits and who deliver poor results. We all wonder what makes the differences. We have identified three core behaviors among the successful Product Managers that have found the Joy of Agile. 


Secret #1

Strategic Assets

In traditional methods the development specifications and the marketing plan ruled. In an Agile environment we can steer via STRATEGIC ASSETS.

The single biggest asset is the Product Vision. The high performing Product Managers has turned the communication of the product vision into an empowering exercise. It is not enough to write down the Product Vision in a word document, slide deck or in a SCRUM tool. Our heroes are the Product Managers who make films, publish the Product Vision on Facebook, make a story or even a work of art. The Product vision must be strong and heard to be used. Creating a Product vision is easy but communicating it and using it is hard. To make the Product Vision executable we need to support the product vision with additional Strategic Assets.

Strategic Assets that we have successfully implemented: Personas, Driving forces, Product Story, User story, Target customers or Markets, Resonating Focus, Value tree


Secret #2:

Aligning (leading) teams without formal authority

The Product Managers must deliver in multiple dimensions. We need to align the work in R&D with our marketing, our deliveries with the Sales work and we need to manage the management.

One of the best agile product management teams had a list of all the key individuals in all these areas. Every month the product management team secured a contact with all key individuals. They had lunches, meetings, a cup of coffee or breakfast. Greatness was shown that the team always had an updated message to convey. We have never seen a project which ran so smoothly and where all activities where aligned.

The proactive approach working with the interfaces using strategic assets is truly world class product management.

  • R&D focus: Domain skills. Requirement management process, Product Vision
  • Management focus: Business Model, Product vision
  • Delivery organization focus: Readiness – how to make the organization ready to deliver the products and support customer success, Product vision
  • Sales & Marketing focus: Readiness, Resonating focus, Product Vision


Secret #3:

Dare to plan for success and fail fast

Too often we meet Product Managers who do not dare to plan for huge success. Planning for success means sticking out your neck. In big organizations this could affect your career. But if you learn to fail faster and fail better the risks are not avoided but more easily handled. And becomes positive experiences.

Three out of four startups fail. Dreams are destroyed. But great entrepreneurs (and Product managers) persevere. Figuring out what won’t work puts an entrepreneur one step closer to a solution that will work.

In the failures, iterations and the perseverance greatness is to be found. Find the Joy in Agile by challenging your work as a Product Manager and take the lead in the Agile world.

Download the complete article here:

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Or listen to Professor Sjaak Brinkkemper, Utrecht University, and his views on Agile methodologies.

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About Magnus Billgren

Magnus's profession is to turn technology into selling products. He has worked with product management for more than 20 years with electronics, software, services and hardware and is a thought leader within high performance Product Management.

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