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Control vs. Trust – Product Tank Berlin, notes

Interesting discussions last night at the Product Tank #2 in Berlin : Control or Trust your Team ?

Some notes…

Angel Medinilla

He made us think about the myth of the visionary product manager that has a vision that can change the world and motivates team to work crazy hours to make it happen. But even though, this person might as well be control freak. At the end of the day, what do you want to control really ? How can you control the user experience, the market share? Control will always be an illusion. (he refered to Kung Fu Panda, a movie I haven’t seen)

Another good point is the difference between output vs. outcome. “Controlers” will focus on the output (velocity, costs…) where “trusters” will have their focus on the outcome (are we solving an actual problem?).

The creative nature of software engineering makes it a bad fit for too much control anyway.

What is the role of the manager ? Create the systems / processes around the people so they can do better work.

A solution for the control vs. trust : coming back to the myth of the visionary product owner, only a shared / common ownership of the product can build the trust

Mathis Christian

Mathis’ talk was certainly more theoritical at the start, exploring the relationship between trust “granted”, the trust “received”, the expectations vs. actual outcome of the actions done.

When it gets more interesting is when the entire system gets in motion over time, when different levels (trust given, received, outcomes achieved or not) are moving and “partial results” are introduced. I understand partial results as a sort of “moving target”; when the trust “giver” starts to interfere before the actual outcome can’t get a chance to be done.

Example: If I call my girlfriend 1h before we are supposed to meet to ask where she is, I am introducing a partial results. The results (we are both on time at the meeting point) is achievable, I should trust she will make it. My call shows the trust levels have moved.

Fish tank session

Interesting concept the “fish tank”. I had never heard about it. The idea: you have X people in front who are the only allowed to talk; there is ONE free seat. If you have a question to ask or just want to speak up; you can take the free seat, as a consequence someone must leave its seat (so you always have a free seat).

The main benefits being that it breaks the asker / answerer scheme (anyone on a seat is both). I would like to see that in practice more to see if it really works.


My todo list

  • Find out more about Lean Metrics
  • And about management 3.0
  • And about Agile Games
  • And about this ale beer made in Berlin, XPA, that was actually very good ! I always said I missed ales from England but never bothered looking for some in Berlin…


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