Ideas Behind Agile Planning: Responding to Change

The line from the Agile Manifesto is: “Responding to Change over Following a Plan.” But let’s take this further in two main ways.

1) Change can be good.

To me, in Waterfall, we always thought of change as bad. It was mainly bad because it forced us (eventually) to change the plan which was a lot of trouble. But also, we just thought of change as bad.

In Agile, the attitude is that change can be good. Clearly a Category 5 hurricane coming right at your city is not good. So, we do not have a childish notion that all change is good. But any learning, and other things also, can be good changes.

As the Agile Principles suggest, we want to maximize the benefit of good changes.

2) Adapt to change quickly.

This second notion is different. The key to this idea is that your customer needs and wants you to respond to change quickly.


  • Too much pain
  • Competitors can beat you up
  • Losses can be too great
  • We will be overwhelmed by multiple changes hitting “at the same time”


And maybe the last item is not so much the changes hitting us at the same time, but rather that we still need to respond to too many changes at one time.

Further: I think customers expect businesses (and other organizations) to respond quickly (customers in their real lives certainly must). So, our organizations are perceived as better or worse based on how quickly (and effectively) we respond.

And the next step.

I think people now view things this way.

  1. No one responds to change perfectly, BUT…
  2. Some organizations seem always to be reacting to change and recovering, WHILE…
  3. Other organizations are driving change (mostly in a good way)
  4. Some organizations are driving change or responding quickly, but the net result is not as good as we want.


So, in general, I think people are raising the bar for responding to change.

They want you to be:

  • pro-active
  • more ahead than behind
  • with a pretty good solution
  • and, when you make mistakes, fix them quickly
  • and, enable ME (the customer) to have a better life (e.g., look at the wider impact of that adaptation)


More soon…



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