Product development – from the Old Days to Modern Times

In the “Old Days” the rate of change was not at todays extreme level. The predominant way of thinking and organizing work had clear traces back to Max Weber, Frederic Tailor and Henry Fayol.

In our “Modern Times” we cannot afford the bureaucracy creating distance between the real customer and the teams serving these customers. 

The Old Days

The Old days


    • Long distance / no contact between the product implementation project and the real customer
    • The implementation projects are given solutions to implement
    • The project teams are measured on the ability to produce Output
    • Bureaucratic and inflexible planning, often tied to the yearly budgeting process
    • The project team is populated with mercenaries, being told what solution to implement 
    • The organization and the project team might have the self-image of being agile and customer-centric, because they use e.g., Scrum
    • The product development projects are serving the “internal customers
    • Inspiration: PRINCE2©, SAFe

Modern Times

Modern Times

Typical elements in the Strategic Context:

    • Product Vision
    • Product Strategy
    • Technology Strategy

It is the responsibility of the organizations product- and technology leadership to ensure / communicate the strategic context, and to agree with the product teams which problems to solve. These will often be formulated using the OKR (Objectives & Key Results) method. 


    • Close proximity between the real customers and the product teams
    • The stable and cross-functional product teams are given (hard) business / customer problems for which they are empowered discover the best solutions
    • The product teams are held accountable for the Outcome
    • Flexible planning and sponsoring, sometimes seen using an internal Venture Capital funding model 
    • The product team is populated with missionaries
    • Having the product teams being in constant and direct contact with the real customer, and having a flexible funding model, this organization and its product teams can strongly claim to be both highly agile and customer-centric
    • The product teams are serving the real customer
    • Inspiration: INSPIRED, EMPOWERED