Take home from Kent Beck’s product development talk in Nairobi

In Leadership

There are a myriad ways of going about product development, but probably Kent Beck delivers  a simple yet unorthodox way of doing things before taking your product to the market.

In fact it appears that at the end of the day you have a product that truly wins the market’s heart.

But before we go about exploring what the Kent Beck method is all about,  what I began thinking some moments after the Kent Beck Tech Talk is that, products, as people, have life.

And, and if people die, so do they.

Again, products, as people, have stages of development.

Products, as people, need proper care in the stages of growth and development ;

Products need testing; so do people

Products have limitations ; so do people.

And, if people die, so do they, etc.

But what was Kent Beck really saying last Friday night in Nairobi?


That product development begins with the stage of exploration , then for better or worse, expansion, then, for better or worse, extraction.

And those three critical stages he calls 3X; in other words, Explore, Expand, Extract.

The model inspires the thinking that, at each of the stages, there are caveats, crucial things to look out for, for instance: At the Explore stage (first X), Kent Beck strongly advises,

READ: Why being a jack of all trades in not great

“It is time to stop experimenting when you have a promising product [minimum viable product] “.

And, at each stage, the product designer may need “buckets” of money; someone else may say “tonnes” of money to get the product doing well in the market.

Also, he intimated that the product designer should be keen enough to know when an originally promising idea has no chance of getting off the ground or cannot pay off.

“And when an idea is dead, it is dead, you just have to accept the reality and move on “.

And, incidentally, he also pointed out that most ideas die at Exploration and Expansion stages.

Lack of focus

” Yet again, failing to rise to the expansion stage is due to an obvious lack of focus, ” indicates Kent Beck.

At this point, the conversation takes a different turn and Mr Beck goes ahead to stipulate team requirements for each stage of product development:

“At Explore stage, the team composition is big enough and highly diverse. This is a flat team of 4 to 10 people. “

However at the Expansion level, he notes, the expertise needs to be a bit narrow, comprising only of the team that can solve the expansion problem, for example real estate developers.

The Extract dimension, on the other hand, has to be made up of people whose main job is watching graphs and profits.

That is essentially how it went down at the Kent Beck Tech Talk organised on Friday last week by Andela Kenya.


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