Seven Agile Pillars: Product Savvy

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Agile
Tags: , ,

In a recent retrospective, one of the developers raised that there wasn’t always a clear understanding between what we were doing at a sprint level and the real value to the business. It was felt the delivery team was lacking some of the business context. As a result, during our next retrospective, we evaluated the Product Savvy pillar of agile (one of seven you can rate as part of an agile spiderweb retrospective).

After reading and discussing the points related to the pillar (see below), I asked the team to rate themselves out of five. Our average came to about 2.7 which made it clear that the team generally felt we were not doing well in this aspect. We bounced some ideas around and came up with a couple that we thought were worth trying out, including:

  1. Learning more about the business context by having our in-house client services staff (who were also users of our system) come and chat us through common issues they experience when dealing with customer queries.
  2. Make business value more visible through things like business value points on epics, up-front metrics for success to rate against, and getting a better grip on how to access and ‘read’ Google analytics.
  3. Understand our users better through listening to recorded calls, sitting with customer service users for a period to observe real life calls, and sharing generic user feedback or research results in our weekly knowledge sharing sessions.
  4. Know where to find information about design or implementation decisions that the team made in the past (and make sure to still capture those decisions and reasons).
  5. Get better at asking or telling others on the team the ‘why’ i.e. if you’re conveying information, remember to include the why. If you’re working on some task and don’t know the why, then ask someone who can tell you.
  6. For bigger epics that are still being broken down, have at least one developer involved from the very beginning.

There were some great ideas, but obviously we couldn’t take on everything! As it turned out, our Product Owner was already planning on defining metrics for our future work and our architect was intending inviting business to share more with us during our weekly knowledge sharing sessions. As a team, all except the analyst (who takes time to meet with business on a regular basis anyway) felt that taking one hour out of the next sprint to shadow someone from client services would be useful. This is the action we took forward and we’ll discuss what the team learned at our next retro.

Take a look at the pillar below: how product savvy is your team?

 Product Savvy Agile Pillar Characteristics

Product Savvy Slides




















  1. Mya says:

    Related to idea #6, I found the following article this morning:

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