Strong AI Principles: Unlearning Agile Product Principles for AI-First Leadership

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As the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly prevalent, product managers must adapt their mindset and principles to harness the true potential of AI-powered products. Building exceptional products requires the development of strong AI principles. In this blog post, I will explore how product managers can cultivate these principles by unlearning certain agile product principles, enabling them to become effective AI-first product leaders.

Embrace the AI-First Mindset

To develop strong AI principles, product managers must adopt an AI-first mindset. This means recognizing that AI capabilities are not just add-ons or features but essential components that drive the value proposition of the product. By prioritizing AI from the outset, product managers can leverage its transformative potential to deliver superior user experiences and outcomes.

Shift from Sprint-Based to Continuous Improvement

While agile methodologies emphasize iterative development and quick release cycles, the AI context often requires a shift towards continuous improvement. Product managers must move away from the sprint-based approach and embrace a more adaptable and ongoing process. AI models and algorithms need continuous refinement based on user feedback, data analysis, and evolving market dynamics.

Note for Product Squads: While embracing a continuous delivery approach, it’s essential to remember the importance of well-being and staying healthy. Agile methodologies promote iterative development, but the nature of AI requires ongoing adaptation. Don’t forget to take care of yourselves amidst the continuous improvement journey – it is never-ending! Prioritize your well-being, and bring an environment that encourages work-life balance into your ceremonies. Remember, sustainable progress comes from a place of balance and self-care. Keep evolving, but also keep yourself in check.

Transition from Feature-Focused to User-Centric

In traditional agile product development, the focus is often on delivering a set of predefined features, or “Themes”. I still believe in planning with themes, however, building great products powered by AI requires a shift towards a user-centric approach. Product managers need to understand the specific needs, pain points, and behaviors of their users and leverage AI to prioritize work to enhance their experiences. By putting users at the center of the product development process, product managers can create AI-powered solutions that improve their needs continuously.

Augment Data-Driven Decision Making

AI thrives on data, and product managers must embrace data-driven decision making to develop strong AI principles. This means actively collecting, analyzing, and leveraging relevant data to gain insights into user behavior, preferences, and market trends. By combining data analysis with user feedback, product managers can make informed decisions that drive the development and improvement of AI models and algorithms.

Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration

Building great AI-powered products requires collaboration across different disciplines and teams. Product managers must unlearn the tendency to work in silos and foster cross-functional collaboration. By bringing together data scientists, engineers, designers, and business stakeholders, product managers can leverage diverse expertise and ensure alignment throughout the product development process. This collaborative approach enables the integration of AI seamlessly into products and maximizes its impact.

Examples to “AI-first” your Product Principles Mindset

Here’s a table outlining five mindsets of agile product principles that may not align with the unique challenges and opportunities presented by AI, along with their corresponding AI-first principles:

MindsetAgile Product PrinciplesAI-first Principles
Sprint-based developmentEmphasizing fixed sprint cycles and time-bound iterations.Embracing continuous improvement and adaptation, focusing on ongoing refinement of AI models and algorithms based on user feedback and data analysis.
Feature-focused approachPrioritizing the delivery of predefined features based on stakeholder requirements.Adopting a user-centric approach, understanding user needs and pain points, leveraging AI to enhance user experiences, and delivering value-driven solutions.
Limited flexibility in requirementsRelying on upfront requirements gathering and a fixed product roadmap.Embracing flexibility and adaptability, allowing requirements to evolve based on user feedback, data insights, and emerging AI capabilities.
Team silos and specializationWorking in isolated functional teams with limited cross-disciplinary collaboration.Fostering cross-functional collaboration, bringing together data scientists, engineers, designers, and business stakeholders to leverage diverse expertise and ensure holistic AI integration.
Limited focus on data-driven decision makingRelying on intuition and stakeholder opinions rather than data insights.Augmenting decision making with data analysis, actively collecting and leveraging relevant data to drive informed AI model development, enhancement, and product decisions.

By recognizing and adjusting these agile product principles to align with the unique challenges and opportunities presented by AI, product managers can develop strong AI principles and effectively lead the development of AI-powered products.


Developing strong AI principles is essential for product managers aiming to build great products. Unlearning certain agile product principles and adopting an AI-first mindset is the key to becoming effective AI-first product leaders. By embracing continuous improvement, shifting towards a user-centric approach, leveraging data-driven decision making, and fostering cross-functional collaboration, product managers can harness the full potential of AI to deliver exceptional user experiences and drive business success.

Remember, the journey to becoming an AI-first product leader requires an open mindset, a willingness to unlearn, and a commitment to continuously adapt and evolve alongside the rapidly advancing field of AI. Embrace the possibilities that AI brings, and let it propel you towards building truly innovative and impactful products.

Thanks for visiting, where I write about current topics from my personal experiences in product management to inspire you to overcome challenges and drive success. Stay tuned for more articles on product management and development. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave a comment below.

This blog post used the assistance of ChatGPT 3.5, a language model powered by artificial intelligence to provide intelligent editing and structure to this post.