Can you walk us through the 2nd Agile principle and why it is so important?
Let’s start off by explaining what the 2nd Agile principle in the Agile Manifesto is.
“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.” – Agile Manifesto, 2001.
Welcoming change, even late in development
Welcoming change is the core of this principle. One of the core ideas behind #agile and agile frameworks is that we learn through doing, and as we learn, we use that evidence and data to inform what we as a team do next.
The thinking is that as we move along, we discover new things, and through learning and adapting our responses, we can build something better for the customer than originally planned.
The 2nd principle builds on the 1st principle – our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software – by empowering the development team to continuously deliver valuable products, features and services that delight customers.
Being presented with ‘change’, late in development, is often challenging. The principle doesn’t say that you need to be happy about changing requirements nor does it ask you to see that as fun and satisfying.
What it does encourage is that we recognise that changes, even late in development, are a good thing. It means that we are adapting and responding to the most valuable feedback and ensuring that the team are working on the most valuable product, feature or service.
It means that we don’t throw our hands up in the air in frustration and despair, instead, we recognise the value of adapting and responding to potential threats and opportunities, and that we welcome these changes because they empower us to do great work at the most valuable time.
When your objective is to create customer delight, it often means that you are looking for the best possible solution. Learning new things empowers us to build the best possible product but it does often mean reworking or discarding things that we have already invested time and effort in.
Remember, everything that we do in complex environments is based on a hypothesis. An assumption about what we believe, given what we currently know, is going to deliver the highest value to the customer and end-user.
As we learn new things, we may discover that what we are building is not as valuable as we initially thought. We may find that what the customer initially thought mattered turns out to deliver very little value, and as such, we adapt and respond to a higher priority or higher value item.
At the end of each sprint, the team aim to give something that has been built to the customer and ask them whether it solves their problem or creates the value they wanted. We are also asking them how we can improve on what has been delivered.
Creating these feedback loops, frequently and consistently, empowers us to work on the most valuable items and focus our attention on delivering products, features and services that continuously delight our customers.
If we find out late in the process that we have a better way of building that product or that our customer’s needs have changed based on a new threat or opportunity, we are going to create even more value for our customers because we adapt and respond to important data and evidence.
It is important that you welcome the new information and feedback because if your customers feel any resistance or frustration, they are going to wonder whether you actually want to hear what they are saying and whether you truly are committed to delivering the most valuable product.
If your customers sense that you genuinely are interested in building the most valuable product for them or helping them respond to their most pressing and important requirements, you are going to build customer loyalty and create more opportunities for the future.
We need to remember that even if it is a bitter pill to swallow at the time, we need to be communicating that we value their feedback and are grateful for the new information that allows us to direct our efforts toward creating the most valuable product or solving the most compelling problem.
Feedback is hard to give, and it is hard to receive, but it is intended to help us improve and shape how we invest our time, effort and energy. It is meant to make things better and allow us to do the most valuable work.
So, welcome change and welcome feedback, regardless of where you are in the development process because it genuinely helps you deliver the most valuable work.
For more on John McFadyen, visit https://www.johnmcfadyen.com or connect with John on LinkedIn.
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