Product Thinking
Dissecting the Pluses and Pitfalls of SAFe with Eric Willeke
December 15, 2021
Eric Willeke, SAFe Principal Contributor, trainer, and Fellow, is a co-founder of Elevate Consulting where he teaches executives how to lead agile transformations. Eric joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk all about the pros and cons of SAFe, and to share their personal experiences with this often polarizing agile framework.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Eric talk about in this episode: How Eric first started in the field of SAFe. [2:49] There is a huge divide within companies who adopt SAFe between what the product managers do versus what product owners do. It's hard getting those two disciplines to work together for various reasons. This divide hurts the product field because it makes it hard to level up people and careers. [8:51] The role and function of product owners and product managers are essentially the same. Product owners make product-centric decisions for a team of people who want to create amazing technology products. Product managers do the same thing but on a larger scale, and think further ahead. Product managers have more of a roadmap, and more of an abstract view; they see in terms of quarters as opposed to product managers’ monthly timeline. [11:41] Melissa asks what a product management career path looks like in the world of SAFe. "Is a stack of bigger titles equivalent to career progression?" Eric responds. The important thing is whether collaboration is happening along each point in the 'stack'. Are the people in the smaller teams working with the people in the larger teams and are they doing so effectively? [14:28] Melissa and Eric talk about why individuals may deviate from the given product management career path. [16:47] To bridge the gap between the frameworks that are made specifically for digital transformation in companies and software, product people need to consider a few things. These include the products you're selling, the top-level customer-facing service you're offering, and how software helps you do that. The software product people are there to improve the digital transformation and digital enablement experience across the organization. [21:47] Eric talks about the role of the lean portfolio. [27:30] Software product people have a breadth of responsibility within enterprises and very little opportunities for innovation. A lot of product management within this realm is learning enough about one side, and what is actually possible on the other side, then bridging those two together to make innovative leaps. [31:50] Organizations need to provide deep and narrow product visions. You don't want to have ten thousand ideas and visions running around within a company because it's chaotic. Start from strategy, go to prioritization, then look at your teams and who is going to be affected. [33:25] Eric gives tips on how to decide how many product managers to have in your organization. [36:47] Resources Eric Willeke | LinkedIn | Twitter Elevate Consulting
Eric Willeke, SAFe Principal Contributor, trainer, and Fellow, is a co-founder of Elevate Consulting where he teaches executives how to lead agile transformations. Eric joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk all about the pros and cons of SAFe, and to share their personal experiences with this often polarizing agile framework.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Eric talk about in this episode: How Eric first started in the field of SAFe. [2:49] There is a huge divide within companies who adopt SAFe between what the product managers do versus what product owners do. It's hard getting those two disciplines to work together for various reasons. This divide hurts the product field because it makes it hard to level up people and careers. [8:51] The role and function of product owners and product managers are essentially the same. Product owners make product-centric decisions for a team of people who want to create amazing technology products. Product managers do the same thing but on a larger scale, and think further ahead. Product managers have more of a roadmap, and more of an abstract view; they see in terms of quarters as opposed to product managers’ monthly timeline. [11:41] Melissa asks what a product management career path looks like in the world of SAFe. "Is a stack of bigger titles equivalent to career progression?" Eric responds. The important thing is whether collaboration is happening along each point in the 'stack'. Are the people in the smaller teams working with the people in the larger teams and are they doing so effectively? [14:28] Melissa and Eric talk about why individuals may deviate from the given product management career path. [16:47] To bridge the gap between the frameworks that are made specifically for digital transformation in companies and software, product people need to consider a few things. These include the products you're selling, the top-level customer-facing service you're offering, and how software helps you do that. The software product people are there to improve the digital transformation and digital enablement experience across the organization. [21:47] Eric talks about the role of the lean portfolio. [27:30] Software product people have a breadth of responsibility within enterprises and very little opportunities for innovation. A lot of product management within this realm is learning enough about one side, and what is actually possible on the other side, then bridging those two together to make innovative leaps. [31:50] Organizations need to provide deep and narrow product visions. You don't want to have ten thousand ideas and visions running around within a company because it's chaotic. Start from strategy, go to prioritization, then look at your teams and who is going to be affected. [33:25] Eric gives tips on how to decide how many product managers to have in your organization. [36:47] Resources Eric Willeke | LinkedIn | Twitter Elevate Consulting

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