This is part two of a four-part series of articles wherein I tie out the principles and values of Agile Project Management with Customer Experience. I introduced the concept here, and part one is here. Let’s jump right in to the second value, as articulated in the Agile Manifesto and associate a few Agile principles along the way:
The software engineers who built the concept of Agile and Scrum articulated a prioritization of working software over that of comprehensive documentation. Now, that may not be very meaningful to those of us who aren’t software engineers or designers. Fair enough. But there is definitely applicability of the spirit of this value to just about any business practice you’d like. Just ask your boss: Would she prefer you spend your time explaining your work, or doing your work? I used to joke that, in the Pentagon, we would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 10x the amount of time preparing a presentation about what we’d done than we had actually spent doing that actual work. More explicitly with respect to CX, though, I’d also say this speaks to something I bang the drum about all the time: If you’re taking your VoC data and simply reporting it, you’re only doing half the job. You need to do something with the data (improve your processes and systems) in order to make it useful.
Let’s take a look at a few of the twelve Agile principles while we’re on the topic:
Number One: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Surely this is something we can relate to: putting the Customer right up front (notice this is Principle #1) when it comes to the work we do. Notice also the emphasis on speed (“early and continuous delivery”) and quality (“valuable”).
Number Three: Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
Here again we continue the theme of speed. This aligns also, in a way, with not keeping your Customers in the dark: Take care of an issue as fast as you can, offering frequent updates, at least so they know you’re still working on their issue.
Number Seven: Working software is the primary measure of progress.
Number Nine: Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
This pretty much goes without saying: We want to deliver value, and good intentions aren’t nearly as valuable as good results.
Number Ten: Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.
This is one of my favorites because it guides us to design our products, services, and experiences with the Customer’s desires in mind. We may think something’s an awesome new addition to our line-up of products, or the next biggest offering that our Customers will fall all over themselves to line up and pay for. But sometimes they just want a functioning product and all of the ‘gold-plating’ in the world isn’t going to matter to them at all.
The culmination of these principles, to me, is an emphasis on taking action and delivering success. Within Agile, it’s a combination of these plus some others that leads to the concept of the MVP, or, Minimum Viable Product. You’ve surely heard of the concept of being paralyzed by indecision (“analysis paralysis” some call it), or that the “perfect is the enemy of the good.” It’s up that alley… The MVP is the best we can do today that will solve at least some of the Customer’s needs. It’s important not to oversell what you’re delivering, of course. And some Customers are used to (and expect) shiny perfection with all of your offerings, so it’s also vital we communicate expectations properly. But incremental successes build on themselves and when accomplished in collaboration with our Customers can be the foundation of a tremendous relationship.