Photo by Sebastian Pociecha on Unsplash

I get to talk to lots of different people, teams, and companies in small and large organizations. It's interesting to see the patterns that are happening across the product community. These 'trends' are in no way scientific, just the drumbeats I'm hearing. And as a word of caution, the funny thing about patterns is that once you see them, you see them everywhere: your mileage may vary.

Ditching Slack for Discord

As teams continue to adapt to COVID-19 remote realities, I've seen some teams and entire organizations ditch Slack for Discord. The key reason being Discord's rich presence, which can signal to teammates when you're deep in thought. The remote equivalent of having your headphones on, staring intently at the screen. Something difficult to do with distributed teams.

I've been using Slack's calendar integration to show when I'm in meetings, but it's very subtle. Additionally, Slack's pernicious notifications make it very hard not to be interrupted without signing out of Slack ultimately.


Discord's rich presence enables custom integrations; there are several available for everyday applications. There are many of them out there, but one team I know is happily using vscode-discord and loving it.

I'd be surprised if Slack weren't working on better presence features. COVID-19 has accelerated tech in many categories; collaboration tools that ease the burden of working remotely is one area that I'm most excited about.

Increasing disdain for the Product Owner role

I think that the product owner is the worst thing that Scrum has visited on the software world. It is a bad bad idea!

Mary Poppendieck

Hating-on aspects of Agile isn't new, nor is questioning the effectiveness of a role. What does seem new, to me at least, is how we're almost at a boiling point of disdain for the position of Product Owner.

The critical argument with the Product Owner role is that it signals that you view your software developers as code monkeys typing your commands into their IDE and doesn't give space for devs to solve problems. The power of teams is that they collaboratively develop solutions. The role of the PO doesn't foster that mindset.

There's some consensus that a PO role on feature teams may make sense for feature teams, but even then, it will restrict the creativity of the dev team. Some argue that this is precisely the intent. 🤔

Coincidentally InfoQ posted an article at the beginning of September on the topic: "Product Owner is a Bad Bad Idea."

Outcomes over Outputs (still)

Also, not new is the emphasis of Outcomes over Outputs, but it too seems to be a burning topic. Much like the debate about the PO role, people some more aware than ever that product teams are most effective when they develop solutions with an understanding of the problems and goals.

Teams seem to fall into two camps: one who is all about the outcomes, and a second camp that's all about outputs but convinced they're doing outcomes. But that's understandable; no one wants to work in a feature factory.

Empowering a team can be a leap of faith for more traditional command and control leaders. Marty Cagan has a new book, Empowered, coming out in December that is a blueprint for Product Leaders. I'm hoping this means, as a community, we recognize that feature teams are a bad idea.

More from Marty on Empower Product Teams from 2018.