Slow Agile Movement?

Over 200 museums participated in Slow Art Day last weekend – my annual global event designed to help people (including product managers) learn how to look at and love art [Photo credit: Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University).

Slow Art Day is a counter-cultural provocation to the fast-paced, multi-tasking world we live in – and especially to the tendency for the average museum visitor to spend 7 seconds looking at any individual piece of art (not enough time to see the art but certainly enough time to develop museum blindness).

To combat customer blindness, I want product managers to slow down. That’s my counter-cultural statement to the world of product development – in particular, I want product managers to slow down at the beginning of an agile product development process so they can take the time to understand customers. With the customer context set, they can then move fast.

If product managers do not slow down enough to really understand customers, then they raise the probability of creating bloated software that sucks. While slow may be good for looking at art, eating food, or understanding customers, it’s terrible when it comes to using products and services.

Jeff Patton, author of User Story Mapping, and one of the leaders of our Product Workshop in San Francisco next week, couldn’t agree more. In fact, a few years back Jeff suggested starting the “Slow Software Movement.”

Product managers must begin any agile development process by slowing down and understanding the goals of their customers – not by substituting true customer insights with their own idea of what customers need or want. As Jeff says:

“Make sure the first thing we gather is how the people paying for [or using] the software will get value from it.”

I challenge you to actively listen to and observe your customers, slowly and with intention. Slow down yourself so your customers don’t have to (and so you can speed up through the rest of your product development process).

Like thousands of people did last week with art all over the world, learn how to see your customers and your product in new ways and just maybe you’ll create something that customers love.

– Phil

Free copy of my book, Customers Included? Email me at pterry at collaborative gain dot com (U.S.-based readers only).

If you want more info on our Product Habits workshop with Jeff Patton and Thaler Pekar next week in San Francisco, click here.

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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