Product Management and Lean Startup

Question: "Do concepts like Lean Startup and Agile product development have any relevance or impact on product management roles today?"

Answer: The Lean Startup is a largely unproven theory which advocates that companies should use iterative development (e.g. Agile) and frequent incremental product releases; as opposed to engaging in preliminary, thorough and systematic market research that is followed by a phased and pre-planned product development cycle.

The general premise in Lean Startup and Agile, which are experimental discovery-driven approaches, is that on-going customer feedback during the product development and product launch stages can continually help test the market's receptiveness to the product and its features and quickly allow for any required corrections to marketing activities and product development efforts.

The discovery-driven approaches' main limitations are that they do not scale well which renders them not fitting for large and complex projects and products, depend on fluctuating and possibly inconsistent customer feedback which makes the product susceptible to erratic shifts in concept and feature scope (excessive pivoting), can ultimately be quite costly if many and repeated scoping and architecture corrections are merited, and may lead to incorrect executive management decisions as they do not provide sufficient and reliable information for making sound strategic decisions.

True market-driven product management roles could be nullified and adversely affected under Lean Startup and Agile to the point of redundancy. This is because the deterministic tenets of market-driven product management run contrary to experimental nature of the discovery-driven approaches. Blackblot has published principles which allow Agile scrum to work well with Blackblot PMTK Methodology™ and it correctly requires that Agile, a product development methodology in the solution space, does not encroach and attempts to assume product management roles in the problem space.