Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: Agile Product Development: How to Design Innovative Products That Create Customer Value


I picked up this book to gain a rich, practitioner’s perspective on the art of product design and development. I call this art because as any true science would propagate, there is no single way to develop the products that customers find valuable. Knowing Tathagat and having followed his work closely over the years, i knew that this book will have practical insights. The insights that are not overly academically oriented and are sought with rich practical Tech. industry experience that Tathagat brings to the fore.

After having read through the book, i can very convincingly say that- it was a time well spent reading the book. It was a time well spent on learning. It was a time well spent on getting that additional 1% perspective that can make a true difference to build products that positively influences the customer's experience.

Let me first say what this book is not. This book is not a primer on best practices. Infact, the way it is narrated- it mostly rejects the notion of best practices. Rather it preaches practitioners to be adaptable to situations and evolve the methodologies. Towards this, it gives insights into various frameworks, methodologies that can be leveraged based on the contexts and limitations under which given projects are being executed. This thinking is quite in alignment with the spirit of Agile manifesto.

Secondly, this book does not over-glorify any single phase of the entire process of Software development. It covers virtually all aspects of building (does not cover marketing/selling) products including Product management, design, development and testing. I could see this balance beautifully maintained throughout this book.

Thirdly, this book will not make you expert in each of the different phases in product development as quite visibly, that's not the intention here. But it gives you an end-to-end perspective of the entire life cycle of building the product, which not many books (atleast in my viewpoint) provides.

In order for me to convey what this book is all about, i would better say it with the quotes from the book that i shared (as tweets) while reading this book. Some of them are as below-

- Deliver Not documents … but the software! #AgilevsWaterfall
- Work estimation is not a mechanical activity. If anything, it is a social activity.
- An old saying goes that walking on water and working on product requirement are very easy— if only they were both frozen!
- Human-centered design is a mindset that recognizes we can build better products by learning from our users.
- “Design is a popular subject today...in the face of increasing competition, design is the only product differentiation"- Deiter Rams, 1976
- "Develop customers in a similar fashion as we develop products—start with several hypotheses and rigorously test them..." - Steve Blank
- At last count, Google had done 178 acquisitions, Yahoo! 112, Cisco 170, and even a company as young as Facebook had done 53 acquisitions.
- Agile takes the idea of a cross-functional team to a “self-organizing team” which is beyond silos, adapts itself & acquire newer competencies
- There is a saying in the Swiss Army manual—when the map and the terrain disagree, trust the terrain!
- Processes are meant to serve people— not the other way round.
- For today’s businesses, adaptation is key. Process is secondary. And the specific flavor of process is a distant tertiary.
- "Agile process" is an oxymoron
- In the past man has been first. In the future the System will be first. —Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Mgmt, 1911
- There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement, otherwise you’ve made a discovery.
- "Reality is that following an agile process, or any process for that matter, makes us “un-agile."


In all, the book is quite rich in references- some of which i read during the course of reading and few others i have bookmarked for future. This book rightly promotes Agility as a mindset and set of values and practices rather than a written-in-stone process and it makes this point very well. Already in my re-read list.

3 comments:

TV said...

Thanks Anuj for your kind feedback. I enjoyed the learning process that goes along with authoring a book, and glad to see a feedback such as yours coming from a peer.

TV

Anuj Magazine said...

My pleasure, TV. I have always seen the interactions with you and going through your writings and videos are a huge learning opportunity for me and have always made sure to not miss any . I couldn't let go of a chance for learning more from your book. I did get to implement a few things from the book at work and am looking forward to reading it again.

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