Hey You! Mr. Release Manager!
The Cranky Product Manager appreciates that you’re trying to do this Agile Scrum thing by the book. And that it is hard for you. Because before this Agile tsunami came crashing down you mainly just tracked the progression of different release documents (Is the PRD done? Check. Is the Functional Spec done? Check. Is the Design Doc done? Check.)
Ok, that’s not fair of the Cranky Product Manager. You did more than that. You also ran hurried release meetings once a week that tried to bury issues instead of surface them (OK everyone, here’s the status of all the documents. Anyone have any issues? None? OK, let’s adjourn.) You also organized two or three Fantasy Cricket leagues plus your wedding during working hours, and boy it all took a lot of time.
But now, in the Scrum era, things are different. It’ s not easy. You once had a private office, but you now spend the bulk of your day tethered to a communal table in a stifling hot “War Room,” inhaling the body odor of The Veteran, trying to tune-out the grandstanding arguments between two nimrod Hotshots (“My idea is the most elegant…”, “No it’s not. It’s trivial. You’d have to refactor it immediately.”), and listening to the documentation writer bitch and moan that she can’t write the doc by Friday if the product keeps changing every hour. It’s really hard to organize fantasy leagues or surf the web with so little privacy. Plus the porn shui of the War Room is completely off.
So it sucks to be you, Mr. Release Manager, and the CPM is sorry for you.
But just because you are stuck in that War Room doesn’t mean the Cranky Product Manager should have to join you. You argue that in Scrum the product manager is the same as the Product Owner, and therefore the Cranky Product Manager needs to be constantly available to the team in order to make on-the-spot decisions within minutes of the asking. Ergo, you demand the Cranky Product Manager sit in that sticky-note-encrusted, windowless tomb with you all damn day.
Uh, no way. Not gonna happen.
Why not? Because the Cranky Product Manager needs to be the Voice of the Customer and the Voice of the Market. How is she to do that without actually VISITING some customers and prospects? And VISITING means that she actually needs to leave the office, hop on airplanes, and fly far, far away. She cannot answer questions from the dev team within 5 minutes if she’s on a plane, or in a meeting, or on the phone with a customer. Not that the CPM wouldn’t LOVE to hear debates about Iron Man or whether that Star Wars cartoon is “canon” or not — all day, every day, for hours on end. Who wouldn’t?
And your response, Mr. Release Manager? You argued that perhaps the Cranky Product Manager should not visit so many customers and should spend more time in the War Room.
Anyone else see the irony? The Voice of the Customer should have less interaction with customers? All so she can make on-the-spot customer-facing decisions more quickly?
TRUST that the Cranky Product Manager will have more to say about this Fatal Flaw of Scrum in an upcoming post… She feels a HUGE rant coming on.