All posts by Scott Sehlhorst

About Scott Sehlhorst

Tyner Blain is a company focused on requirements management and software development processes. Scott Sehlhorst is the founder and president, with a background in both mechanical engineering and software (development, management, consulting).

Motivated Reasoning and Validating Hypotheses

In our continuing series on managing the risk in your backlog, we look at the risk of kidding ourselves. Specifically, we use cause and effect and hypotheses to identify the assumptions in our plans, but if we don’t do it the right way, we will lie to ourselves by validating our assumptions instead of responding to the truth when we see it.

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Market Problem Framing Example

picture frames photo from Jessica Ruscello

As Steven Haines first told me, “strategy first, roadmap second.” There is a step between the two – deciding which problems you will focus on solving with your product. Strategy defines the context for product strategy, and your product roadmap is a planning (and communication) tool for executing your product strategy. Understanding how problems are framed in your market is critical to developing a successful product strategy.

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Progressively Elaborated Users

partially assembled humanoid robot

Understanding your users is critical to developing good products.  A “complete” understanding is sometimes required, and always comes at a cost.  A contextualized understanding is valuable but less so, and costly but less so.  Even a shallow understanding of your users provides value by preventing some dysfunctional behaviors.  You do not always need to develop personas before developing products.

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The Potential of Agile

silver bullet

The pop-culture concept of a silver bullet – a simple solution to a hard problem – is a dangerous idea.  It can be used to over-promise, and doom a team to under-delivery.  When an executive, too far removed from what makes creating products hard thinks of “agile” as a silver bullet it becomes difficult to manage expectations.

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Agile at Scale – Outcome Driven (or Broken)

thousands of monks

Taking agile, a process otherwise optimized for small, cross-functional, collaborative teams and making it work at scale is fascinating. You have to change some elements, and retain others, as you redefine the context. Being outcome driven, is one element you must retain – or even elevate in importance, or you fundamentally break the system of delivery

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Playing Whack-A-Mole With Risk

Man playing whack-a-mole carnival game

Assumptions are interesting things – we all make them all the time, and we rarely acknowledge that we’re doing it.  When it comes to developing a product strategy – or even making decisions about how best to create a product, one of these assumptions is likely to be what causes us to fail.  We can, however, reduce the chance of that happening.

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Outside-In User Story Example

thumbnails in a messaging app identifying conversation members

Being “outside-in”, “outcome-based”, and “market-driven” is particularly important for creating successful products.  The problem is that just saying the words is not enough to help someone shift their thinking.  For those of us who are already thinking this way, the phrases become touchstones or short-hand.  For folks who are not there yet, these may sound like platitudes or empty words.  I know many people who want to switch their roles from “do these things” to “solve these problems.”  They have to change their organizations.  This example may help get the point across.

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Minimum Valuable Problem

redacted use case dependency thumbnail

Defining and building a good minimum viable product is much harder than it sounds.  Finding that “one thing” you can do, which people want, is really about a lot more than picking one thing.  It is a combination of solving the minimum valuable problem and all of the other things that go with it.  Solving for both the outside-in needs and the inside-out goals is critical.

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