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Reliability And Innovation October 12, 2005

Posted by newyorkscot in Agile, Marketing.
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Jim Highsmith makes some interesting statements and recommendations in his book – this is a must-read as it also has many real-life anecdotes and other industry/acedemic references. The top-line summary is that any company in the marketplace has demands to continually innovate while facing pressures to reduce costs, and to deliver in a reliable manner. Agile Project Management (APM) provides the framework to do so.He discusses the difference between repeatability and reliability of execution of projects – he argues that the former is for production processes and the latter is for exploration processes (where requirements are uncertain). This means that rather than focusing on time, scope, budget of projects we should focus on time, vision, schedule. The difference here is that the project delivers / implements a valuable product (implemented vision) of what the customer actually wanted within the time & budget constraints, rather than a completely pre-specificed result.

Another interesting observation is the manner in which companies innovate products do not follow linear development paths, and have a high degree and frequency of market feedback (which in our case might actually mean our specific client who is paying for a the project!). Interaction with the end-user is key and too many people substituue interaction for documentation ("throw it over the wall at the development team" syndrome). [Separately, for those interested in technology & innovation, check out "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton M. Christensen]There are many very interesting concepts in this book (particularly: Complexity and how working at "the edge of chaos" generates the most innovation; complex adaptive systems theory reshaping scientific and management thinking; adaptive versus compliance management approaches, amongst others). All said and done, his framework for APM does resemble a lot of what we have done for our clients and implement in our project teams (ie deliver customer value, iterative/feature-based delivery, technical excellence, pragmatic (simplistic?) approach. Jim provides the framework and concepts to provide more insight and control over how these are implemented and managed. Get this book, it is a worthy read for all those interested in not just APM, but in general control, systems, and organizational theories, etc

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