Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

Practical advice for making agile work in the real world

The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

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#87: Testing Beyond Assumptions with David Bland

February 28, 2024     35 minutes

Join Brian and David Bland as they journey into the novel idea of testing assumptions before development to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the right things are being built in the latest episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast—a must-listen for any product owner wanting to determine if their team is working on the right thing.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian talks all things testing with David Bland, the founder of Precoil and co-author of the book Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation.

Learn the importance of testing assumptions and experimentation in product development as David shares his journey from working in startups to coaching and consulting and how he realized the need to bring Agile principles into the discovery phase of product development.

You can listen in as they explore the concept of testing business ideas and the three-step process of extracting assumptions, prioritizing them, and running experiments.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:01] - Brian introduces David Bland, founder of Precoil and co-author of Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation.
[02:10] - David dives into weaving testing assumptions and experimentation into managing the product backlog for product owners.
[02:51] - David discusses how you can determine if you're working on the right things and prevent iteratively delivering something that nobody cares about by applying the Agile principles further upstream.
[04:20] - Brain adds insight with the notion of being selective as the product owner, referencing the work of Henrik Kniberg.
[05:18] - David breaks down the themes he developed from design thinking and how they apply beautifully to the product backlog: desirable, viable, & feasible
[06:50] - Brian asks the question burning through many of our minds, “How do you apply it to testing your ideas?”
[07:15] - David lays out the three-step process he uses and applies to testing business, product, and service ideas.
[08:32] - David discusses the difference between requirements and assumptions.
[10:33] - David provides a practical example of adding wishlist functionality to a website and what testing this idea would look like under his testing framework.
[14:47] - Today's episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast is brought to you by Mountain Goat Software's Private Training for Agile transformations. Get your team on the same page through customized training and coaching programs to level-set your team. For more information, visit the Mountain Goat Software’s Private Training page.
[16:07] - Brian poses the concept of asking, “How does an idea move the needle” before the idea is developed?
[18:14] - David shares his thoughts on running customer-facing acceptance criteria and the product death cycle, a term David coined.
[21:06] - David provides an example of a client who puts a positive spin on killing projects that prove not to be viable via testing.
[22:33] - Brian asks if there are testing methods that can be applied after a product launch as a lagging indicator of the launch.
[24:57] - Brian clarifies the value of testing before making a bet on a new product, even as an entrepreneur working alone, through the example of knowing how a bet will play out in a Las Vegas casino.
[25:38] - David lays out the common objections he sees from companies and how you could address them.
[27:13] - David lays out one of his favorite techniques for testing, concierge, which he lays out in detail in his book.
[30:41] - Brian draws the conversation back to the Agile Manifesto.
[31:49] - Brian shares a big thank you to David for joining him on the show.
[33:30] - We invite you to subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts. Do you have feedback or a great idea for an episode of the show? Great! Just send us an email.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

David Bland
Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation by David Bland & Alexander Osterwalder
#25 Scaling with Henrik Kniberg
Agile Manifesto
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts
Mountain Goat Software’s Private Training
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

David J Bland helps companies such as GE, Toyota, Adobe, HP, and Behr find product market fit using lean startup, design thinking, and business model innovation through his company, Precoil. He is the lead author of Testing Business Ideas with Alexander Osterwalder.