Interviewing Agile Product Manager

elephantTrust me, this has been most crazy of all interview rounds that I have been doing for quite some time now. Objective is to hire a product manager who has experience of delivering successful product release via agile methodology. Initially I felt that I am lucky to get so many CVs (candidates) with agile experience but as I started talking to these so called experts in agile, I started banging my head on the wall, and here is answer to WHY I did so.

A typical question that I ask to most of the ‘Agile Product Managers’ is, “Consider me as a 2 to 4 years experienced software engineer who has exposure to traditional water-fall model of development process. I am joining your product development team as a Sr. Software Engineer and you have been asked to explain me Agile, its benefits and what changes do I need to bring in my working style when I work in Agile methodologies”

The answers to above question reminded me of popular Panchatantra story “The Six Blind Men and The Elephant” , wherein each of the 6 blind men tries to judge the shape of an elephant by touching trunk, Leg, teeth, tail, ear, stomach and comes out with their own verdict of how an elephant must be looking like. All of them were convinced that the elephant must be looking like the part they touched, until someone comes and help them realized that the true picture would only emerge once they put together the individual pieces together. Yes it  was really that crazy, some of the answers may sound funny but it indeed is a harsh fact of product development scenario in service oriented Indian IT industry. With all the disclaimers, here are some snippets of replies that made me go crazy….

1st candidate: “Yes, I can explain, I have worked on Agile development methodology. Basically it calls for fast development, really fast. Requirements come in, developers work fast, QA will test fast and then we make faster release. Time to marked is superb”

2nd candidate: “Its pretty much straight forward, agile means no bugs, develop, test and deliver with 4 weeks. We have really cut down on bug fix cycles in our development process.”

3rd candidate: “oh, I really do not like Agile. Its like cutting corners, agile does not allow us to do any kind of documentation. I will say that developing without design documents, without requirement documents is not good. I would not recommend Agile to anyone.”

4th candidate: “it calls for a very different mindset. you as a developer who in waterfall model works in engineering team will now work with stake holders like sales, operations. You have to be very practical and intelligent to deliver software in agile”

5th candidate: “its really cumbersome, you need to attain daily stand-up meetings, that last for 60 to 90 minutes and 7 people simply waster their time talking about project updates, something in water-fall model we use to discuss once in a week and is now done daily.

…..give me a break. It was terrible experience and moreover a painful learning about the perception that is lives among professionals. Surely, agile community have few tasks on hand in educating larger set of stake holders, and this for sure is going to take lot of time. For now, it looks like that the agile elephant is fast becoming a victim of miserable understanding of blind folded product managers.


image source:  internet, no known copyrights

This entry was posted in Agile, backlog, Product Management, Release Management and tagged , on by .

About Abhay

Abhay has over 15 years of experience in shaping ideas into products that brings profit to business and delight to it's users. He has been instrumental in driving ideas to launches in various capacities and domains. This includes over half a dozen ideas that are today making profit and few that could not survive the tough terrain of product life cycle. Abhay brings in rich experience in building teams, developing products and putting right process in place. Abhay express and share on;!/mathurabhay

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