Flexible == Agile?
Agile comes from the word agility, which you could see as a synonym for flexible. While we stick to the plan, we want to keep a certain amount of flexibility. You never know when the opportunity of a lifetime comes by. But agility is more then just being flexible. Something flexible bends. Something agile moves, adapts and improves.
“Nothing endures but change.”
For me an agile mindset fits very well in the idea of the infinite game as described by Simon Sinek in his book ‘The Infinite Game’. The game of business is, as he states, by definition an infinite game. Players come and go, the rules will change and there is no defined endpoint. The goal is to keep playing.
Cone of uncertainty
As humans, we are very bad at estimating work, especially complex work. We are often over confident, don’t have all necessary requirements available and underestimate the impact of unplanned work. Even if you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. The Cone of Uncertainty models the estimate variability over time. The earlier in the project the more uncertainty you need to account for.
We all know you have to give some sort of estimate. The good thing is that you can apply this model on all amounts of work. Therefore limiting the amount of work you’re committing to reduces the absolute amount of uncertainty and risk. Take an iterative approach and you will be able to adjust as you move forward. Stay flexible, inspect & adapt.
Inspect & Adapt
Working in small iterations, delivering value to the customer quickly and often. It’s the first principle behind the agile manifesto. In Scrum this is called Inspect & Adapt and this is usually done during the sprint review. The moment where the team present the work done to the Product Owner and key stakeholders. Together they collaborate on what to do next. If for some reason the team went totally side ways the amount of waste is limited this way.
This is emphasized by the second principle behind the agile manifesto: to welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Stick to the plan, meaning focus on the desired business outcome (OKR’s), but adapt where needed.
Level of details
There is another way of looking at the cone of uncertainty as well. I believe in empowering teams to do what is needed to achieve awesome results together. I’m sure you have encountered a boss who tried to micro manage you. Besides the negative effects on happiness and commitment it is highly ineffective and inefficient. Leadership should make sure everyone is aligned on the vision and the (bigger) objectives. How to get there is something to leave to your team. And they need some flexibility in order to do so.
If you continue to do so and you trust your teams I am sure you will achieve the best outcome possible. People who believe in your cause will go above and beyond to achieve the goal. Just make sure you stay flexible and let them.
I can help you increase your team or organizations flexibility and agility. Check out my services or contact me for more information!