Tuesday 1 February 2022

Business Orientation vs sustainability: How to unify the opposite in product work?

Under the pressure of business development, we are gradually accustomed to solving problems in the simplest and most brutal way. "development is the last word", gradually evolved into "development is the only truth". how to find unity from opposites and help products and teams grow healthily and quickly is an essential skill for project managers. the citation also analyzes how to unify the opposites from the perspective of yin and yang to build a healthy team.

At last year's Scrum Gathering, in the experience of agile transformation shared by IBM and GE, the construction of two typical roles, PO (Product owner) and SM (Scrum master), will be mentioned.

Among them, PO is business goal-oriented, responsible for business goals, concerned about business returns and input-output ratio ROI, to determine which things should be prioritized, while SM is more about cohesive team to better achieve goals, concerned about the long-term development of team growth, and system sustainability. PO and SM are arguably the most classic character designs in Scrum, complementing each other and achieving business goals while ensuring the health of the team. They are like a pair of partners, checking each other and balancing each other, losing the perspective of either side will bring serious consequences.

in the actual project, under the high pressure of business development, many long-term effects of the work have been repeatedly and selectively ignored, we do not have time to do architecture optimization, we do not have time to do team review and cohesion, because just fighting business is busy enough.

therefore, we began to get used to solving problems in the simplest and most brutal way, so that this "machine" could continue to run rapidly. business goal-oriented, slowly the whole team was kidnapped, turning "development is the last word" into "development is the only truth". we didn't have the leisure to sharpen the knife, we went straight up and cut firewood, until the knife was interrupted again and again, and the system or team was in big trouble.

however, such a wake-up call is undoubtedly extremely difficult for anyone in the bureau.

taking my own example, when i was really under business pressure, i found that i was also unconsciously ignoring some things, although i knew in my heart that this was not the best solution, but i still subconsciously found various reasons for my simple rudeness. now it seems that i am very fortunate to have such an experience, which allows me to really stand in another perspective and experience the difficulties under the pressure of business, so as not to stand and talk without waist pain.

the project manager is a generalist, with multiple roles of experience and experience, in order to have a broader perspective, and a more mature mentality. after countless inner struggles, i have come to realize how difficult it is to be business-oriented and sustainable, and to perfectly juggle both responsibilities in one person! i've seen some very experienced business leaders, even if they know the stakes, under the pressure of actual pressure, it is difficult to really take care of it for a long time.

at the beginning, these neglects of sustainable development will not have any problems in the short term, just like when the product and team are still young, there is still a lot of youth to squander, continuous overtime and stay up late, a little rest, a chicken blood can immediately recover as before. but with the passage of time, two or three years later, it is almost inevitable that various sub-health conditions will begin to stand out.

manifested in the product and team, the delivery of new product features is getting slower and slower, the code of the core module has become less and less understandable to people, and various failures on the line are frequent, although repeated emphasis seems to find no cure. frozen three feet, not a day's cold, at this time it is not easy to reverse.

That's why it's so important to set up two roles that check each other on the design of the Scrum framework! Luo Jisi once said in a program that when building a first-level organization and equipping a team, someone must play the role of gathering people's hearts and developing the team! In the current organizational structure, corresponding to the business leader, our project manager needs to assume this role, and the business leader to match each other, balance and benefit, have persistence, flexibility, in order to jointly make the cause bigger and longer.

Finally, about the design of the two characters in Scrum, I would like to recommend a good article to you, reproduced from "Thinking Clockwork", the author Wang Yu from the perspective of yin and yang dissipation, taking us to appreciate the oriental wisdom hidden in the Scrum framework.

The hidden wisdom of the East in the Scrum framework

"The Yin and Yang, the Way of Heaven and Earth, the Outline of All Things, the Parents of Change, the Origin of Life and Death, and the House of the Gods." Cure the disease must be sought from the Source. As we all know in Scrum, there are three characters. Team,Scrum Master,Product Owner。 Teams are generally working, "self-organizing", "cross-functional", let's not talk about this role. Let's talk about PO and SM first, PO represents the business in front of the team and represents the team on the business side. He maintains a Product Backlog. But it is said that he maintains, in fact, the team maintains together, and listens to him when it is critical. SM words, the introduction of the process, stimulate the transformation. He stands on the side of the team and promotes agile values. It looks like the following diagram:

that is to say, sometimes the interests of sm and po are conflicting, but opposed and unified. what makes this art possible is the existence of a team in the middle.

let's not talk about which is yin and which is yang. from this cooperation a contradictory unity is formed, and if it is not a contradiction, there is a problem. for example, sm is strong, po is weak, and the team is like a happy headless fly. for example, po is strong, sm is weak, and the team is like an oppressed slave.

For the black area where the PO is located, two kinds of artifacts will be formed, one is the Product Backlog, and the other is the Sprint Backlog that is closer to the team.

This picture feels unbalanced, something is missing from it. That's right, the Scrum framework is missing some of its content. After filling in the missing part, it should look like this.

Sustainable Backlog breaks down into Leadership Action at every iteration. How is Sustainable Backlog generated? What is the direction? It is usually produced at the retrospective meeting. It's constantly updated and followed up, just like the Product Backlog Scrum Master guides the team through coaching. There are two directions:

discipline indicators

does the team have a disciplinary convention, and how effective is each person's execution? it can be measured anonymously: 5 points is steely discipline that i understand and 100% enforce; 1 point is that i don't know what team discipline is.

happiness indicators

whether the team is willing to work, actively participate, and is willing to contribute every point of strength. the measurement method can also make anonymous scores: 5 points is to get up in the morning and think of going to work, annai can't help but be excited; 1 point is to get up in the morning and think of going to work and want to die in bed.

the spiral of these two indicators became the team's emerging purpose. (for the child, the external purpose is to make the parent happy, otherwise he will not be born; the internal purpose is to live and reproduce; the emerging purpose is that i want to become a scientist or a racing driver) this is another small yin and yang spiral.

  • Every Sustainable Backlog is an image of the future.
  • Every Sustainable Backlog is a motivator for our team to come together.
  • Once every Sustainable Backlog is completed, the idea that you want to stay on this team forever is reinforced.
  • Every Sustainable Backlog has nothing to do with revenue. It can be referred to simply as SB

Leadership Action is a decomposition of Sustainable Backlog, which has the following features:

  • it's all actions of change or transformation (unlike the previous practice)
  • it's not that it needs to be told, it's that the team breaks it down on its own (we're all adults)
  • Each one can be adjusted to the Leadership Action or Sustainable Backlog
  • it can be discussed in the retrospective meeting, or it can be followed up and adjusted at any time offline.


Sometimes the dividing line between Leadership Action and Sustainable Backlog is not obvious, just as Product Backlog doesn't necessarily break down again into Sprint Backlog. Then it becomes the Sustainable Leadership Action. Short for SLA, but Sustainable Backlog has one distinct difference from Product Backlog. It is that the direction of push is different. See figure below:

The action of the PO is to push, while the action of the SM is to pull. The yellow arrow is the logo of "Holding for Team", which means that both The Product Backlog and the Sustainable Backlog belong to everyone. It's just that this role represents some kind of power for the whole team. In fact, these two yellow arrows can be associated with two meetings. As shown in the following figure:

Without further ado, I hope that the real Scrum Master can adhere to the values advocated by Agile, truly pull the team into Tai Chi, and create the magic of the team...

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