My opinion is that most people who are involved in the creation of products genuinely want to be agile and don’t really much care about the methodology as much as they care about being efficient and effective in the creation of demonstrable results – being leaner in the approach to product development implies getting something built faster and with less effort.
Having worked in a number of industries and roles, but predominantly in the digital world, on all sides of the equation, as a product manager, a product owner, a product designer, a product developer and a product consumer I feel somewhat qualified to comment but of course, one’s knowledge is never absolute and every day one learns or discovers something new – especially if one is receptive to feedback, dialog, and debate.
Is it what you say it is?
One thing I am pretty confident of, though, is that just because you call what you do, something. That doesn’t mean that that is what it really is. I might, for example, say that I am an ‘excellent’ parent and a disciplinarian. But what does that really mean? In the end, only one of these three attributes that I ascribe to myself is almost certainly true. I am a parent.
So returning to the concept of “agile product development” – while I might subscribe to a particular methodology – what I really subscribe to is the notion that product development should be undertaken with agility as the focus. There is a difference. Agility, in my book, means principally being able to easily and quickly respond to a change in the characteristics of the product to meet the demands of the market or audience for which it is intended.
If an agile product development methodology underscores and supports this desire for agility, then good, I am all for it. If it simply lumbers me with process overhead – it failed.
Having a conversation
There are many attributes related to an Agile Methodology that accelerate the development lifecycle from concept to product. Among these aspects, there is the concept of lightweight requirements definitions – made up of themes, epics and stories and the interminable backlog but there is also the idea of short development cycles – sprints.
“Sprints” in the context of the Agile Methodology and in the Agile:Scrum Framework incorporate periodic “meetings of the minds” in sprint planning sessions, daily scrums, sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives – all aimed to provide all stakeholders with insight into progress, challenges, and blockers.
Having these meetings regularly, even if they are just of a five-minute duration, with all interested parties involved means you don’t land up with a shocking surprise at the end of the development cycle where designers and developers are frustrated and product managers and product owners are disappointed. The important thing is the free flow of dialog and feedback.
More dialog – less rework – that’s a lean principle and a six sigma principle – eliminate the waste!