We might be facing one of the greatest crises of modern world. It affects us on multiple layers. Many of us experienced human tragedies. On the other hand, another millions may suffer as both global and local economies has started slowing down. From all angles we hear how to protect our health. However, there is only little suggestions how to adjust our working behaviors to soften this impact on our businesses. Luckily, for all of us embracing the agile mindset, we might be equipped with skills that help us to quickly react to the situation.
With this post I would like to start a discussion. What do you think are the key tips how can the agile mindset help our businesses to pull through during the crisis? I’ve gathered some of answers that I found the most relevant. However, I’m planning to update the article basing on your comments.
So let’s asks ourselves this question. Is there anything that we can do better to be have successful businesses in these harsh days?
Top Agile Mindset based tips
[Last update – 31.03.2020]
I will start with this quite obvious point. Currently, situation changes extremely quickly and Eric Ries’ words to: “pivot or persevere” cannot be more relevant. Be careful, as your strategic hypothesis may become obsolete in a matter of days. Hence, you need to both monitor the situation carefully and also think about potential alternatives. For this second one, you can use ‘Scenario Planning’ tool to quickly find out some new options for your product.
Same applies on tactical level to e.g. Scrum and its Sprint Goals. Don’t wait until the end of your sprint to review what value have your team delivered. You need to inspect the situation constantly and react early to avoid unnecessary waste of useless increment. Moreover, the Scrum Guide itself emphasizes that Product Owner should cancel the sprint as soon as the goal become obsolete. Don’t be afraid to use that tool if you have to. Re-plan your sprint at first moments when you identify that the sprint goal is no longer valid.
On the other hand, as some people tend to say, see challenges as opportunities. If you cannot focus on your main priorities right now, consider items you wouldn’t usually pick up. This time might be great moment to work on e.g. technical debt, architectural changes or people’s up-skiling.
Remember about your customers’ situation
Your business might be affected by the situation. So your customers’ ones too. They may have new problems that your company can potentially resolve / support. Talk to them regularly to be up to date with their key impediments. Then, try to adjust your plans accordingly. Here are two great examples of such quick reactions (from my local, Polish area):
- a company that delivers sandwiches to offices switching to deliver lunchboxes to homes instead. They can keep (partially) the momentum and still provide value for part of their customers.
- a petrol company switching production from windshield washer fluids to hand sanitizers. They both helped the society to fight with the pandemic and gained some good press.
To better understand customers’ problems, you can use some techniques I’ve mentioned in the last paragraph of my previous article.
The situation changes so quickly, that it is easy to misjudge what can happen. As the picture above indicates, the further you look into the future, the bigger the uncertainty is. Wait with making strategical commitments to the latest possible moment to reduce that risk. By doing this, you can make a turn into most profitable option available, when situation changes. By the way, Lean Software Development mentions this rule as one of its principles. Also, the SAFe methodology recommends that by preserving multiple options late into the projects.
This one, I will it make really simple. Minimize the time between releases – tomorrow you may not be able to neither validate your hypotheses nor deliver business value. I have seen people that postponed releases because the deployment had to be done on site, in flesh. They were just not allowed to travel. Also, there would be nobody to greet them there anyway as everybody had been working from home.
This is one of core concepts for agile mindset oriented people. You can find it in: 12 Agile Principles, The Lean Startup, SAFe principles and probably many more.
If you have any interesting thoughts, how we can help each other to be more successful with our products in these tough times, don’t hesitate and share them with us.
Let’s all stay safe and in good health.
Featured image based on following work.