From Iron to Cloud – Customer Driven Innovation [Series 2/5]

Customer Driven Innovation: A Global Perspective

Changing iron by using the cloud

Growers (Matt rarely called his customers “farmers”) are a uniquely tenacious and optimistic group. They have to be risk takers too, so many out-of-their-control environmental factors impact outcomes.  You might never guess that this group is well set to innovate/change how they farm.

The head of  Product Management explained that today’s growers, in order to feed the many billion of us, must find ways to limit their risk and increase their yield. They’ve already teased out most of their farming costs from fuel (which impacts feed, fertilizer and other necessary items on the farm). More was needed to be done – there are hungry people to feed.

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Strategic MVP and Iterations

Each strategic project is a set of related user stories – Liz Rice, MindTheProduct

The lively discussion continues around exactly how strategic is Agile if you constantly run short Sprints. Doesn’t it take longer to be strategic?

Actually no…The two concepts (Agile & Strategic) are not mutually exclusive! I read a very interesting article this weekend by Liz Rice who outlines exactly HOW to do this. She’s keen on being realistic and keeping on track.

Liz advocates using a roadmap and planning to prioritize User Stories needed to build the MVP, keeping in mind that it is best to not bog down in details. Plan for the predictable things and get buy-in from your development teams. We all know priorties can and will change, that’s what Agile does so well. Don’t sweat the small stuff but remember if you don’t consciously integrate critical MVP “must have” features into the Quarterly Plan you’ll be forever dealing only with short-term and “urgent” requests.

And that’s no way to develop world class software.

Speedy Doesn’t Have to Mean Sloppy – Agile Marketing

MIT's Solar Car

The need for marketing speed is obvious and not just because customers are global and they buy 24/7/365. Factor in market segment fragmentation – how many ways there are to reach customers (channels, multiple devices) and don’t forget the usual product tweaks/frequent updates, along with new world-market dynamics. Speed? no kidding.

How’s a marketing professional supposed to meet the customer/prospects’ expectations of first-rate, quality, relevant and dynamic product messaging in this will-o-wisp environment?

Try a little Agile with your marketing.

  • Forget “big batch” Market Plans for the year and instead chunk the campaign or market planning into small marketing projects. OK, you really can’t do this YET!   So >>> start by limiting the number of pages in the plan. Fill in the details the further along you go. Now you get the picture!
  • Define the success measurements – decide upfront how you’ll know if the campaign, new web page or video you posted is meeting/exceeding expectations. Use tools like Google AdWords or ROI calculators to do this and do this often.  Be flexible, adjust or fix as necessary, maybe even “can” the project. The sooner you know the results, the better you can allocate your scare resources (people, time, money) to the best performing projects. Congratulations, you now have results based marketing.
  • Failure is an option – learn from it…
…just don’t fail the same way twice. – Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO Mindjet

Cheers!

Forensics of a Technical Project with Agile Solutions

Great blog post from Knowledge BLOG:  “What’s wrong with the project approach to software development?” It got me thinking and comparing project management vs. Agile practices.

Compare

Projects are work defined as activities and tasks. There’s a start and an identified end.

OK – but factor in complexity, time to do it, size of the team and available (estimated) budget and the wheels come off.

  • Project stalls or overruns.
  • Agile methods fix this (Strategy Meeting).

ProjMgt Best Practice

Do not begin a project until all goals are well defined and agreed upon. Seriously, who has a crystal ball to share? Let’s break this thing up.

  • Success measures, length of time for “agreed upon?”  – further out, the less agreement.
  • Agile methods fix this (Release Planning, Iteration Planning, Iteration Review).

Scope Creep

In a recent straw poll, 40% of product professionals selected “Managing scope /requirements change” as the most important topic for their career. Seems serious…

  • Agile methods fix this (Iteration Review, Daily Stand-up, Continuous Adaptive Planning).

Managing Expectations Both Sides of the Aisle

Clear communication between development teams and the business suits (I’m a suit), big #FAIL!

  • Mention: Culture clash between “stakeholders’ involvement” and “productive collaboration to build product.”
  • Agile methods fix this (Product Owner, Scrum Team).

Continuity, Lessons Learned

Projects are temporary in nature. Teams who work projects are assigned and then reassigned as the projects live/die.

  • What about continuity, flow, innovation? I think missing.  You lose what you’ve learned.
  • Agile methods fix this (Scrum Team, Retrospective Meeting).

Knock It Out

Why are the honest endeavours of software developers often so disconnected from the delivery of customer and stakeholder value?” –  pg_rule, Knowledge BLOG, January 11, 2011.

I think it’s about covered – using any Agile method provides the foundation for collaboration between product visionaries (sometimes suits), development teams and stakeholders to build products that customers want and buy.