April 23, 2018
Great leaders invest in projects with different amounts of risk. Piloting innovation-driven prototypes can be part of the work portfolio. Piloting implies that you are going to build a small piece and then decide whether to go for more or not. Differentiating between Agile projects and pilot / ‘skunk works’ requires clarity. Agile is often implemented in organizations doing parallel work. For example, a single person could be involved in multiple sprints and multiple Scrums. This may not be the purest approach, but it is common. Pilots create quick results for low cost and quick judgment using totally dedicated teams. The riskier the strategic need, the more likely a pilot can help. In contrast, a truly Agile approach prioritizes features for each sprint until the customer (owner) has received enough value.
Leaders must be clear in their own head and in their language to others the how and why of different approaches to getting work done. Agile is not the only approach that works. In some cases, Top-Down development with traditional Project Management still has its place. Check out methods like Design Thinking for innovative, people-driven projects. Experiment with the Duarte method to align the culture and team to the need. A leader’s job is to drag the rest of the business kicking and screaming toward an impossible future. Stay open to new ways of doing.