Ideas Behind Agile Planning: Adapting Better

In 2001, “Responding to Change over Following a Plan” seemed like a pretty aggressive step. (That is the last of the four Agile Manifesto lines.) Today, from a customer’s viewpoint, it is not enough.

Customers want a better adaptation to change, and not just attitude or relatively obvious things like more or faster releases. They want all of that, and they want it to be more effective, more meaningful, and they want the product to integrate into their lives comfortably.

I am not saying customers currently feel they are getting this—maybe somewhat close with a few companies—but I think this is what they want.

My feeling is that customers in general are dissatisfied.  They mainly think things such as:

  • “It’s an interesting innovation, but how does it fit?”
  • “The technology makes me feel de-personalized.”
  • “It’s supposed to help me connect with people, but I feel overall more disconnected.”
  • “Why is this damn stuff so non-intuitive?”
  • “I want my privacy back.”
  • “How does being connected to a bunch of people I don’t know really help me? I do not want all these extra connections. I want the connections I have to be more meaningful!”
  • “Why are we all so rude on these ‘great’ social media platforms?”

Yes, some of those comments accent the negative side. There are positives. There still is some fun in technology. People do like seeing pictures of their friends. But…

Here are a few implications of what I am saying:

  • Business and Technology must plan and execute together.
  • A new product must fit in with all the other changes going on.
  • It is essential that you prioritize the change (the solution) from the customers’ viewpoint.
  • As you role out change, it must be coordinated with everything in your company.

Let me explain this last statement particularly.  So, the real meaning might vary a lot, depending on the nature of your company, its products, its customers, and its competition.

But as an example, imagine you have (a) ideation people, (b) front-end people (e.g., sales, fulfillment, etc.), (c) innovation people (who create new products or solutions, (d) back-end people (e.g., support or back-end processing), and (e) production people (people who use the product to deliver a service, or who build the new widget in volume).

First thing, many companies are kind of set up this way, and, of course, many are not. This is just one example. But my main point is that all five areas must be coordinated so the aggregate introduction of change makes sense and everything fits together. Put another way, people in all those groups must collaborate. (And typically more groups as well.)

The approach to planning and execution must include collaboration and change across a wide variety of groups. Some of those people are the Scrum Team.


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