The following interview provides an overview of Roman’s background and thinking. For more information, please refer to Roman’s LinkedIn page.
Why did you start your journey in agile product management?
Roman: When I began working with product managers in 2001 while introducing Extreme Programming at a healthcare company, product and agile seemed worlds apart. The product management practices I encountered were old-school and waterfall. I had a similar experience when I taught Scrum to product managers in the telco space in 2004. Back then I thought that product management would have to be reinvented to take full advantage of an agile way of working. Luckily, this turned out to be unnecessary. But the profession has tremendously changed over the last fifteen years influenced by agile frameworks like Scrum as well as other approaches including User-centered Design, Lean Startup, and Business Model Generation.
What inspired you to write books?
Roman: Writing a book helps me reflect on my experience and consolidate my knowledge. At the same time, I hope that the readers will benefit from the contents! Before I started working on my book Strategize, for example, I felt that many product people lacked guidance on product strategy, and that there weren’t many books available that focused on strategy and roadmaps for digital products and agile teams.
I really enjoy the creative act of writing. Working on a book can be challenging, though, just like brining digital products to life. There are difficult moments and setbacks such as slow progress, doubts, difficult feedback on an early draft, to name just a few. But these are great opportunities to learn and grow as a writer, product expert, and individual.
What is the current state of agile product management?
Roman: I see a mixed picture: While agile product management has tremendously benefited some businesses, not all companies have been able to make the necessary changes to establish the new way of working. In the worst case, project managers are rebranded as product owners, groups of people are called squads, and there are now chapters and tribes. But when you take a closer look, little has changed: The product people are not fully empowered and don’t always have the skills required; the organisation is still largely project-driven; and the teams are not cohesive, self-managing units but collections of individuals. So there is still plenty of work to do!