Itamar Gilad recently published a good post on Feature Factories vs. Value Generators. It starts off with some basic definitions that should be familiar to most readers, but the second half expands on the responsibilities product orgs have to ensure a successful transition away from feature factories. We can’t just sit back and hope the rest of the organization goes along—there’s a very important organizational change element here:
The product org needs to stop viewing itself as a production unit (you’d be surprised how many do). Our job is no longer just to work heads-down developing features per a spec. The product org needs to produce traction towards the goals, and this traction needs to be communicated clearly to the rest of the company (which helps in creating trust). Testing and evidence play a major role.
This bit about what to measure also stood out to me:
I see a lot of OKRs about boosting efficiency and improving productivity. Many CTOs see having developers work at 100% capacity as the prime goal and push their teams to deliver more story points per sprint. While there’s nothing wrong with any of these per se, they are at best second-order optimizations, and at worst major waste generators. The better optimization is pursuing a higher ratio of positive-value launches. If you embrace this goal, a lot of things that you do today will no longer make sense. It’s a long journey, but with persistence and hard work you’ll be able to put the antiquated feature factory model to rest.
The goal for product teams is not “stop being a feature factory,” it’s “provide more value to customers and the business.” Moving away from “the build trap” is just one of many tactics for making that goal a reality.