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XPM: Breadth-first Program Management

         An XSCALE Pattern Language.

XSCALE Product Management ("XPM") aligns tech, design and business leaders, breadth-first, into a team of peers who continuously convert business drivers and constraints into maximum impact release plans. XPM forms one of XSCALE's three core practice-pattern languages along with: XSCALE Business Agility and XDevOps.

Treating these as pattern languages rather than a framework serves the fundamental agile principle of YAGNI. This post outlines the purpose and benefits of the XPM pattern language – its Why, Who, How and What.

Why: "The best requirements, architectures and designs emerge from self-organizing teams" –The Agile Manifesto, Principle 11. Agile Delivery is a hill-climbing algorithm that can responsibly and efficiently deliver the wrong product features, or the right features at the wrong time, or to the wrong market, or to meet a business driver that isn't the bottleneck and therefore has no impact. When design, business and tech stakeholders disagree, or when there isn't enough analytic data for them to make good choices, or when political forces dominate, Product Ownership become scapegoats whose defensive prioritization is certain to miss the global maximum of business value. And that crimps top line business throughput.

Who: The XPM Product Squad is a self-organizing team of business, design and technical stakeholders collaborating to make tradeoffs between their various drivers and constraints. In XPM, Product Ownership functions by applying Leadership as a Service to reconcile the Product Squad's clearly defined individual responsibilities with its need to make consensus decisions in a timely manner and avoid political anti-patterns.

How: XPM applies Ecosystems Thinking to focus scope on maximum product impact and Throughput Accounting to focus priorities on the current market bottleneck. It works scientifically and breadth-first to reduce a value stream's drivers and constraints to epics, then to break epics into features for which it derives budget and ROI numbers that enable logical tradeoffs in release planning. It uses a consistent weekly cadence to continuously drive and adapt to learnings of its stream's Feature and Systems Squads.

What: 

  • Pirate Canvas shows you which market bottleneck your product has to attack next. It measures and maximizes the market fit of your business case, quantifies the real business drivers and constraints, and generates an "Epic Landscape" that aligns all stakeholders to a common vision on a single sheet of paper.

  • Impact Mapping questions the business value of your Epics. It forces you to understand where you have assumptions and gaps in your subject matter expertise that must be filled to avoid building an irrelevant or needlessly limited product. And takes your Product Squad one step further into aligning their frames of reference, which is critical to avoiding subsequent analysis paralysis.

  • Behavior Mapping starts with patterns for mapping epics to features. It elaborates the INVEST properties per feature in a normal form, then categorizes acceptance criteria according to cross-cutting themes. The themes represent categories of acceptance criteria covering all testable interactions between the system interface and key user personas, architectural dependencies, non-functional attributes and business rules.

  • Acceptance Matrix compiles the output of Behavior Mapping breadth-first. It aligns the stakeholders via simple sanity-checking questions and generates closure on all features that might reasonably represent behaviors of an Epic relevant to specific release goals.

  • Business Bingo generates quick consensus on actionable numbers for feature cost, business value, risk and priorities. It starts with metric probes that represent a consistent basis for comparison and brings sanity-checking conversations up early, before any delivery dollars are spent, to prevent surprises later on.

  • Release Refactoring maximizes ROI across multiple value streams for multiple release goals. Using the numbers derived from Business Bingo, it grades features per Epic to empower stakeholders to make trade-offs to maximize market impact. It's a simple numbers game that replaces what's often weeks of political pushing and shoving with a few hours of rational collaboration.

  • Leadership as a Service is a protocol that eliminates politics and speeds the flow of learnings between teams and streams. Already a part of the Agile Planning Poker game, XPM applies LaaS to make sure prioritization and acceptance criteria tradeoffs are made by consensus while still ensuring they're made in a timely manner observing all individual team member responsibilities. 

  • Throughput Accounting uses the components of ecosystem growth, rather than cost minimization, as the basis for feature prioritization. Combining McClure's Pirate Metrics with Lean's Cumulative Flow diagrams, makes it easy to identify bottleneck constraints by eye and immediately vary priorities to account for them.

  • Set-Based Design is a collaborative method for exploring the design space breadth-first. Multiple design probes are evaluated in parallel, yielding learnings in a BDD format. These learnings each eliminate huge ranges of design alternatives.

  • CRC Carding aligns the remaining choices with architectural constraints and user experiences. These choices are then refactored into a common base for the next breadth-first reduction. Each step reduces the range of design ambiguity and misalignment, rapidly zeroing in on the maximum potential for market impact

XPM Certification $1,250

$1,250.00Price