Recounting a masterclass in Theory of Constraints that resulted in a Dutch herring monopoly from 1400–1700

This story isn’t a red herring and I promise to tie it all back to the world of Scrum at the end.

Before 1400, most herring were caught by performing daily coastal expeditions. Fishing ships would leave from shore and return with a bellyful of herring on the same day. Fishing trips limited to a single day were necessary to prevent the herring from spoiling and tasting fishy.

Herring Catch — Public Domain US Government

Around 1400, the herring migrated away from the coasts of Sweden to the North Sea and British waters. This new herring reality put British and Scottish fishermen in pole position to dominate…


If you want a Product Puppet, then don’t do Scrum

Countless articles have been written on the topic of ‘Product Manager vs. Product Owner’. This won’t be another one of those articles. However, when Product Managers and Product Owners join forces as separate roles, the appropriate response is to facepalm and utter a disappointing: “WTF?”.

It’s like someone telling you they want to be both a professional sumo wrestler and a professional ballerina — at the same time. It’s something incompatible that should leave you speechless and wondering what the hell they are trying to accomplish.

Picture by Asahi Shimbun (Public Domain)

Introducing a Product Manager when you already have a Product Owner is like telling…


A weekly digest of the best Medium articles on delivering value

Agile Spotlight is Maarten Dalmijn’s personally curated collection of last week’s best articles on Medium that help discover better ways of delivering value.

The articles in this week’s edition will provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do you use white space to allow your design to breathe?
  • What is Agile? How do you make it concrete?
  • How do you say ‘No’ as an engineer?

Applying white space in UI design

When I review resumes, white space matters. If it looks easy to process, it often is easy to process. If the resume looks extremely crowded, you probably didn’t put enough thought into it. …


Is the Product Owner like the monster of Loch Ness — it only exists in our imagination?

I’ve worked at many different organizations, from start-ups, scale-ups to enterprise organizations. I regularly have conversations with many different companies who ask me for advice on how to better implement Scrum to deliver more value.

This experience has provided me with insight into how many companies have adopted Scrum. I notice vastly different companies are often dealing with the same problems.

One problem keeps reappearing in conversations: the challenge of implementing the Product Owner role as envisioned in the Scrum Guide.

An artistic depiction of Nessie by Ad Meskens

What I’ve come to realize in all of my encounters with different implementations of Scrum: I’ve never spoken to…


A weekly digest of the best Medium articles on delivering value

Agile Spotlight is Maarten Dalmijn’s personally curated collection of last week’s best articles on Medium that help discover better ways of delivering value.

The articles in this week’s edition will provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do you leave a great first impression on new users of your product?
  • Why is it important to break the glass ceiling of Scrum?
  • How do you ask your users what they want, without asking them?

Your Digital Product Has 7 Seconds To Make A First Impression

When meeting other people, we all know first impressions matter. Users who use your product for the first time immediately develop a first impression.


Stop obsessing over the exact mechanics of Scrum

Scrum Masters love talking about Scrum like it is the solution to everything. Master Scrum and the delivery of value is inevitable. I’d actually argue the opposite. When you obsess over perfecting your Scrum, you will never deliver value.

Photo by Andrew Wilus

Let’s perform a thought experiment. Imagine you work in a perfect Scrum Team, that flawlessly executes Scrum as it is intended by the Scrum Guide. Ken and Jeff would struggle to hold their tears of joy if they would witness our imaginary team in action.

You’re at the Sprint Review of the immaculate Scrum Team, and nobody is surprised when they…


A weekly digest of the best Medium articles on delivering value

Agile Spotlight is Maarten Dalmijn’s personally curated collection of last week’s best articles on Medium that help discover better ways of delivering value.

The articles in this week’s edition will provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do you explain to management you can’t estimate accurately?
  • What are the most important UX laws according to the book ‘Laws of UX’?
  • Why do Scrum Teams struggle to self-organize?

How to tell your manager you can’t predict the future

Everyone in the trenches building products all knows our estimations will be off, and we will not meet most initial timelines we propose. There is nothing we can do about this. …


Obsessive focus on ‘When it will be done?’ moves value to the backseat

Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

Shigeru Miyamoto, the mastermind behind the best-selling game series Mario and The Legend of Zelda, said the following about delayed games:

“A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.” — Shigeru Miyamoto

When given the choice to release something bad, or delay, Shigeru prefers to postpone. By reworking and polishing, you can still end up releasing something good if you know what you’re doing.

Shigeru isn’t the only one that believes this. Valve, the company behind Steam, operates on a similar concept it calls ‘Valve Time’. Most of their game releases are delayed significantly. …


The cautionary tale of the Spotify model

I have a confession to make: I have never seen a Scrum scaling framework succeed. Now, I do not claim to have seen all scaling frameworks that exist in action. I am highly doubtful there is a single person in the world who has concrete and substantial experience with all of them.

New scaling frameworks appear all the time, thank god still at a slower pace than JavaScript frameworks. If you’re that mythical unicorn who has experience with all scaling frameworks, please contact me. I want to learn from you.

Despite the many scaling frameworks I’ve become familiar with, I’m…


A weekly digest of the best Medium articles on delivering value

Agile Spotlight is Maarten Dalmijn’s personally curated collection of last week’s best articles on Medium that help with discovering better ways of delivering value.

The articles in this week’s edition will provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do you figure out your actual product?
  • Is feature clutter inevitable in products as they become popular?
  • Should a Scrum Master prevent mistakes or let them happen?

Can You Answer the Following Question: What Is Your Product?

The first company I joined, was a start-up in the healthcare sector. We had many heated and lengthy discussions revolving around “What is our product?” and “What is exactly the definition of a product”. …

Maarten Dalmijn

I help teams beat the Feature Factory and uncover better ways of delivering value together. www.linkedin.com/in/maarten-dalmijn/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store