As a PO I do my best to talk with customers at least once a day. On these calls I am seeking to understand our customers’ problems, how they interact with our company and products, and how they perceive us.

It sounds easy and straightforward, but recently, I have noticed four big mistakes that get made all the time on these calls, even by the most experienced of us on the team. So I have turned these mistakes into four easy steps to improve the feedback you receive, and ultimately, the product decisions you make.

  1. Stick to open ended questions.

What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a consensus building process through which a group of people in your organization (in our case the product and leadership teams) choose which Epics to fund, aka what work will get prioritized.

How do you run a participatory budgeting session?


Have a list of defined and sized Epics, including those in WIP and in backlog. We put them into a PB template in SAFe Collaborate (you could use any spreadsheet) for easy viewing, and included the amount needed to fully fund each epic based on size.


Figure out what the budget is for the coming PI, minus the percent allocated to tech…

As Product Owners we have the opportunity to align our teams on a destination, and to achieve better plans with our Big Room Planning process. Consider the impact strong product direction and alignment have on our teams. It increases buy-in and focus, and enables more autonomous decisions that are aligned with the plan.

In this post, I will dive deeper into the role of the product team during Big Room Planning (BRP) and during the execution of work. …

How do we, as leaders, adapt the value stream process to put individuals and interactions over processes and tools?

Organizing around value is a tenant of the Scaled Agile Framework, the most widely applied scaling method for Agile. It is essential to reducing time to market, and building a productive workplace with happy employees. Every product or service has a value stream that goes from a trigger to delivering value to the end user, aka, concept to cash. We all assume someone already has this map, at least in their head, but they often don’t, and working through it can be an enlightening experience for leaders and organizations. …

I get asked all the time how I got into agile without a background as a developer. Many of the people who ask me that question are seeing agile practices take over across industries and wondering if they should try it. Then their next thought is “I’m not a developer, I guess that means I shouldn’t bother.”

But Agile principles and practices are already being applied to all types of work across every discipline you can imagine, and agile will work for you and your organization, no matter what you are trying to accomplish. …

I recently started as a Scrum Master at a new company. My last company had strong agile practices and ran the basics, textbook, without thinking. My new team spent my entire interview process and on-boarding asking how they can do that as well, and told me I was the expert that should tell them how. I started to see it as low hanging fruit, so I did… And they HATED IT!

I have been an agile coach for several years, in several different organizations. I have seen and felt the energy when I help shift a team’s culture from telling…

Last month I wrote about Agile Central’s Planning Calendar and the lead up to our Big Room Planning event. Now, I will dive deeper into the week of Big Room Planning and the event itself. Namely, how we set up, what our schedule looks like, what we plan to get out of it, and how we set ourselves up for success.

This article is written from the perspective of our Agile Central engineering department. However, we also hold Big Room Planning events for marketing, sales, leadership, services, and other groups at Agile Central and across CA. …

As a Scrum Master I get a lot of questions from our customers and other Agilists about how we plan at Agile Central. What is our planning process? What is Big Room Planning (BRP)? What do we do leading up to BRP for things to go smoothly? What makes a BRP event successful?

In this two-part series I will tackle our planning schedule and the work we do leading up to a BRP event to make it successful. …

(This post was written in collaboration with William Kammersell and simultaneously published on the Agile Central blog. You can also listen to a conversation with us on the Product Popcorn podcast — Episode 18)

Agile Teams must adapt to thrive through retrospective and process experiments, but what about organizations? How can they experiment as the cost of changes exponentially scales with the number of those affected?

In my org. we practice kaizen, or continuous process improvement, as we build a product called Agile Central (formally Rally), so we decided to apply it to answer these questions. …

Lieschen Gargano Quilling

Product Owner, Agile Coach, Facilitator, Change agent.

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