BT

Riot Games on Moving beyond Product Ownership

| Podcast with Ahmed Sidky Follow 1 Followers , Michael Robillard Follow 1 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 27 Followers on Apr 16, 2018 |

In this podcast recorded at Agile 2017, Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Ahmed Sidky and Michael Robillard of Riot Games about their experiences in product management for a comprehensive gaming experience

Key Takeaways

  • The need for a framework to make really tough product decisions
  • The importance of a clear strategy when faced with many good ideas - selecting which ones not to pursue
  • In the Agile community most of the conversation is about being better product owners, not having better product strategy and this is a gap
  • In the product space there are lots of loosely defined terms (outcome, impact, mission, vision, strategy…) so aligning on common terminology and meaning was an important early step
  • There are models and frameworks for strategic product management which draw on multiple sources
  • To have agility in the tactical space you need to have it in the strategic space
  • Anybody in the product development lifecycle should be able to think strategically
  • 0:20 Introductions
  • 0:53 Introducing Riot Games
  • 1:23 The importance of the complete and comprehensive gaming experience
  • 1:50 A wide and diverse set of opportunities and needs in the game ecosystem
  • 2:10 The need for a framework to make really tough product decisions
  • 2:32 The importance of a clear strategy when faced with many good ideas - selecting which ones not to pursue
  • 2:48 The were already good at doing product ownership, the challenge was ensuring that they were building the right thing and choosing what not to work on
  • 3:15 In the Agile community most of the conversation is about being better product owners, not having better product strategy and this is a gap
  • 3:45 The challenge was to come up with a framework for product strategy that still supported the autonomy of the teams
  • 4:22 A framework to make tough decisions with the flexibility for the teams to choose how to do it
  • 4:33 Listing some of the sources where they drew ideas from
  • 4:50 The experiment is finding ways to connect the ideas from various sources into something that is useful across the whole product lifecycle and is useful for the teams
  • 5:25 Seeing the change in mindset from tactical product ownership to strategically aligned product management
  • 5:38 This starts with having people think differently about product management
  • 5:52 The need to develop systems that support the new ways of thinking
  • 6:08 Remaining true to the Riot culture while making these changes
  • 6:18 A practical first step was aligning on common terminology – ensuring that the same terminology and language is used consistently across all the teams
  • 6:35 In the product space there are lots of loosely defined terms (outcome, impact, mission, vision, strategy…) so aligning on common terminology and meaning was an important early step
  • 7:12 Describing how the work of Jeff Patton resonated with the Riot teams and culture
  • 7:28 It’s difficult to make the mental shift, but it’s really important
  • 7:40 The intent and goal of this shift is to maximize the value and impact to players while minimizing the output of the teams (build more of the right stuff)
  • 8:17 An example of this culture shift is in the change in focus from outputs (features) to outcomes – the changed player experience
  • 8:48 Aspire for new behaviours rather than building more stuff
  • 9:05 Shifting from measuring outputs to outcomes
  • 9:26 The challenge with defining the outcomes and how they will be measured
  • 9:58 Love the product isn’t a behavioural change – identify the changed behaviours the new capability will result in
  • 10:14 Start by identifying the behavioural changes we want to see and why we want them and then empower teams to decide how to achieve this outcome
  • 10:45 Ensuring that the framework and tools are aligned with the organisation culture rather than trying to change the culture
  • 11:18 Create systems which allow the new behaviours to emerge in a culturally aligned way
  • 11:35 Describing elements of the model
  • 11:45 A vision is an aspiring articulation of a future state
  • 12:10 A vision is a statement and a set of descriptions to really get people to see the picture of the future state
  • 12:24 The vision is important because the teams are truly empowered
  • 12:38 Vision is the ultimate alignment and empowering tool
  • 12:58 The second component is product strategy - to be able to define a set of options and choices
  • 13:24 Clarifying the difference between option and choice – option is the set of possible paths to take to get to a goal; choices are the decisions that have to be made about what to do and what not to do when looking at the options
  • 14:36 Options are divergent thinking, choices are convergent thinking
  • 15:02 Generating options and choices
  • 15:26 The next component of the framework is validation – when we generate options we have inherent bias about them, so it is necessary identify the assumptions we are making
  • 16:04 Find the most critical assumption in the options and run some validation tests, which may result in eliminating some, expose a clear winner or invalidate them all
  • 16:35 Don’t spend so much time reducing risk that you lose the opportunities
  • 17:12 The fourth component of the framework is creating opportunity or outcome canvases
  • 17:29 Answering the question “how are you going to win?”
  • 17:57 Once we have the defined outcome now the skills of product ownership/product management come in to play to define the outputs (the things we can build) which could achieve the outcomes
  • 18:08 Creating the backlogs, epics etc
  • 18:17 The pattern of divergent and convergent thinking also happens at the output/backlog level
  • 18:48 Summarizing the overall aspects of the model
    • Create a vivid vision
    • Generate strategic options
    • Run experiments to create strategy validation
    • Learn & identify assumptions
    • Generate opportunities/outcomes
    • Identify the outputs which can deliver the outcome
    • Filter the outputs using a prioritization technique
    • Build the backlog and apply product ownership practices
  • 19:35 Discussing the conference audience feedback from the presentation – validated and pleasantly surprised how much the ideas resonated with the conference audience
  • 20:12 The agile community has focused largely on tactical product ownership without providing much guidance around the strategic aspects
  • 20:44 Listing some of the thought leaders in the space and acknowledging that their work is the foundation of this framework
  • 20:55 The ideas have not been integrated into a cohesive vision to value workflow which organisations and teams can apply practically
  • 21:25 Showing how the ideas from various sources can be linked together to form the framework described here
  • 21:53 The importance of doing tis in a way that fits with the organisation – this way works for Riot and fits with the Riot culture, it may not work in the same way elsewhere
  • 22:10 The importance of founding this work on agile principles and fitting it to the organisation context  *** Good soundbite ***
  • 22:25 This is not a static model – it is constantly being tweaked and improved and that is necessary
  • 22:52 Don’t copy any model directly – be inspired and figure out through experimentation and learning what could work in your organisation
  • 23:16 Advice for others looking to adopt some of these ideas – ensure it’s aligned with your organisation culture
  • 23:56 Look beyond the limitations of product ownership into upstream activities where outcomes need to be defined
  • 24:23 To have agility in the tactical space you need to have it in the strategic space
  • 24:48 The value of creating common terminology and common definitions for terms is huge
  • 26:32 Anybody in the product development lifecycle should be able to think strategically

Mentioned:

More about our podcasts

You can keep up to date with the podcasts via our RSS Feed, and they are available via SoundCloud and iTunes.  From this page you also have access to our recorded show notes.  They all have clickable links that will take you directly to that part of the audio.

Previous podcasts

Rate this Article

Adoption Stage
Style

Hello stranger!

You need to Register an InfoQ account or or login to post comments. But there's so much more behind being registered.

Get the most out of the InfoQ experience.

Tell us what you think

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread
Community comments

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Discuss

Sponsored Content

Login to InfoQ to interact with what matters most to you.


Recover your password...

Follow

Follow your favorite topics and editors

Quick overview of most important highlights in the industry and on the site.

Like

More signal, less noise

Build your own feed by choosing topics you want to read about and editors you want to hear from.

Notifications

Stay up-to-date

Set up your notifications and don't miss out on content that matters to you

BT