XSCALE Product Management (XPM) Practitioner

Are your product management and development costs skyrocketing without showing adequate return?

Is your market share flat or even declining?

XPM aligns technology, design and business leaders into a team of peers who iteratively convert their business drivers and constraints into maximum impact product backlogs.

It’s not how you deliver, but what you deliver and why. If your products don’t go exponential, all the Digital Agile Lean Design DevOps stuff is just noise.

XSCALE product management is about the five questions …

  • How do you design an ecosystem for exponential growth?
  • How do you quantify and open your market bottleneck?
  • How do you prioritise product features for maximum market impact?
  • How do you measure, track and trade off budget and cost of delay against ROI?
  • How do you align business, design & tech leaders to optimise top line business throughput?

 … whose answers mean life or death to your business.

XPM’s answers are simple, reliable, repeatable, data-driven, breadth-first team practices. It treats business, design and technical leaders as peers in an Agile squad to generate a laser focus for your delivery teams. Combining pirate metrics, throughput accounting, impact mapping, BDD, design thinking, TOC, CRC and lean startup, it continuously aligns value streams to open the market bottleneck to exponential ROI. As the core XSCALE pattern language, XPM provides critical skills your business needs to meet, capture and kill its market.

The XPM course is purely pragmatic, delivering hands-on experience in direct application of numbers-based practices to your specific products and markets.

Why learn about XSCALE Product Management?

The best requirements, architectures and designs emerge from self-organising teams.

Agile Delivery is a hill-climbing algorithm that can responsibly and efficiently deliver suboptimal product features, or the best features at the worst time, or to the wrong market segment, or to meet a business driver that isn’t the current bottleneck. When design, business and tech stakeholders disagree, or when there isn’t enough analytic data to make good choices, or when political forces dominate, Product Ownership becomes a scapegoat and defensive prioritisation is certain to climb a local maximum, which inevitably curtails top line business throughput.


The XPM Product Squad is a self-organising team of business, design and technical stakeholders collaborating to make tradeoffs between their various drivers and constraints. In XPM, Product Ownership functions by applying Leadership as a Service to reconcile the Product Squad’s clearly defined individual responsibilities with its need to make consensus decisions in a timely manner and avoid political anti-patterns.


XPM applies Ecosystems Thinking to focus scope on maximum product impact and Throughput Accounting to focus priorities on the current market bottleneck. It works scientifically and breadth-first to reduce a value stream’s drivers and constraints to epics, then to break epics into features for which it derives budget and ROI numbers that enable logical tradeoffs in release planning. It uses a consistent weekly cadence to continuously drive and adapt to learnings of it’s stream’s Feature and Systems Squads.


Pirate Canvas shows you which market bottleneck your product has to attack next. It measures and maximises the market fit of your business case, quantifies the real business drivers and constraints, and generates an “Epic Landscape” that aligns all stakeholders to a common vision on a single sheet of paper.

Impact Mapping questions the business value of your Epics. It forces you to understand where you have assumptions and gaps in your subject matter expertise that must be filled to avoid building an irrelevant or needlessly limited product. And takes your Product Squad one step further into aligning their frames of reference, which is critical to avoiding subsequent analysis paralysis.

Behavior Driven Analysis starts with patterns for mapping epics to features. It elaborates the INVEST properties per feature in a normal form, then categorises acceptance criteria according to cross-cutting themes. These themes represent categories of acceptance criteria covering all testable interactions between the product and key user personas, architectural dependencies, non-functional attributes and business rules.

Acceptance Matrix compiles the output of Behavior Analysis as a breadth-first matrix. It grooms this via simple sanity-checking questions to generate closure on all features that might reasonably represent behaviors of an Epic in upcoming releases. This leads the Product Squad members another step into alignment.

Business Bingo is a rapid way to generate consensus on actionable numbers for feature cost, business value, risk, Return On Investment (ROI) and Cost of Delay (COD). Like all the XPM practices, this is a lightweight and easy to understand numbers game. It starts with empirical probes that represent a metric basis for all the numbers it generates. A comparison game not unlike the traditional Agile “Planning Poker” generates the numbers, and the whole Product Squad collaborates in figuring out why these numbers are as they are. Checks and balances sustain the alignment of frames of reference necessary for the Product Squad to rapidly agree on a release plan.

Release Refactoring maximises ROI across multiple value streams for multiple release dates. Using the per-feature priorities, ROI and budget numbers derived from Business Bingo, it grades the features per Epic similar to the old MoSCoW method. Because features in this grading aren’t smeared across multiple Epics, taking instead the form of a GTD layout, it’s easy for differing stakeholders to rationally evaluate available trade-offs to maximise ROI per release. This simple numbers game replaces what’s often weeks of haggling and politics with a few hours of collaboration.

Leadership as a Service – a protocol that eliminates politics and speeds the flow of learnings between teams and streams. Already a part of the Agile Planning Poker game, XPM applies LaaS to make sure prioritisation and acceptance criteria tradeoffs are made by consensus while still ensuring they’re made in a timely manner observing all individual team member responsibilities.

Throughput Diagrams chart financials that prioritise ecosystem growth over cutting OpEx. Although the Throughput accounting math is extremely simple, the fallacies inherent in cost accounting run deep. XPM combines McClure’s Pirate Metrics with Lean’s Cumulative Flow diagrams, drawing on the numbers output by the other XPM practices to generate an unambiguous view of throughput components. This makes it easy to identify the current bottleneck constraint by eye and continuously vary feature priorities to account for it.

Set-Based Design is a collaborative method for exploring the design space breadth-first. Multiple design probes are evaluated in parallel, yielding learnings in a BDD format. These learnings each eliminate huge ranges of design alternatives. CRC Carding aligns the remaining choices with architectural constraints and user experiences. These choices are then refactored into a common base for the next breadth-first reduction. Each step reduces the range of design ambiguity and misalignment, rapidly zeroing in on the maximum potential for market impact.

© 2019 John Ferguson Smart