Continuous Discovery, HRTECH Product Management and Kangaroos

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I've stolen a bit of a very old post here, and reworked it.

Imagine for a moment you are the product manager for augmented /autonomous driving at Volvo.  You have got every different type of snow and ice covered.  You have figured out how to find parking at IKEA, at the back of the store where you collect the  Billy Bookcases on the mind of its own trolley. (You even have a stage two feature lined up with a robot that  manoeuvres the IKEA trolley and loads the car for you, but I digress).

You have figured out how to dodge elks, moose and even reindeer, with or without sleds.  Cyclists, well, your Danish colleague has had that figured for a while.

Then someone in head-office has the idea to do a pilot in Australia. So, you get the heat thing figured out, right hand drive,  how to overtake trucks bigger than trains, and you dial back the 14 types of snow requirement for the first release.  But one thing catches you by surprise.

Kangaroos.

Kangaroo

image via http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-40416606

Actually for the last few years Volvo have been filming and analysing Kangaroo movement and behaviour.  It causes havoc with the sensors as the hopping makes measuring distance really difficult.

Turns out that Kangaroos account for roughly 80% of vehicle/animal collisions in Australia. See  https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/06/volvos-driverless-cars-cant-figure-out-kangaroos/ for more.

So what does this have to do with HR software product management? Well a bit.

  1. It is unlikely that you can gather all the requirements and design the perfect solution in isolation of customer reality. Some big requirement will come along and catch you on the hop. Agile or not, hopping is part of the gig.
  2. Localization requires people on the ground in the country to work out the real details.  I’m reminded of the sculpture of an elephant on the Basel Cathedral (google it).
  3. Australia is complicated. The leave rules and accruals there are the HR equivalent of kangaroos. If anyone ever says, “How hard can calculating leave rules be?”, send them to Australia or New Zealand.  Then wait.

The best way to minimize kangaroos is to minimize the distance between you and your ideal customers, and build a process where you are continually learning and experimenting. Think of it as the product counterpart of continuous delivery. You can't just gather requirements once and then build, it needs to be iterative. 

Teresa Torres, one of the leading experts in Product Management, has come up with an excellent methodology. She calls it Continuous Discovery. Head over to her blog and read more. Buy the book too. Continuous Discovery Habits.  I'll review the book in a forthcoming post, there is so much goodness in it. 

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