Agile Ideas That Address Problems When They're Still Small

Gil Broza specializes in increasing organizational agility and team performance with minimal risk and thrashing. Dozens of companies seeking transformations, makeovers or improvements have relied on his pragmatic, modern and respectful support for customizing agile in their contexts. His book "The Agile Mind-Set" helps practitioners go beyond process and adopt a true agile approach to work. His book "The Human Side of Agile" is a practical book on leading agile teams to greatness. These days, several of the world's largest organizations are having him train hundreds of their managers in technology and business (up to VP level) on practical agile leadership. Get Gil's popular 20-session mini-program "Something Happened on the Way to Agile" free at

On projects, problems seem to be inevitable. How do you deal with them? The standard, familiar answers include:

  • Think ahead
  • Anticipate
  • Take preventive measures
  • Rely on experienced people
  • Have backup plans
  • Supervise workers and track their actions
  • Measure and monitor progress
  • Escalate needs up the chain of command

These responses are useful to some extent, but they are not always effective. You’ve probably been involved in projects that had big problems despite good people, careful planning and close supervision. How can you do better?

The agile approach is useful for many reasons, one of which is rarely cited: It helps us notice and address small problems before they become big problems. Interestingly, you can get this benefit from just a handful of agile ideas without having to go all-in on agile. Let’s review common types of problems, and see how those agile ideas help…

1. Product fit: Even when you take your time to gather requirements and produce designs, the results may misalign with customer expectations. Agile practitioners obsess about feedback: They constantly check with their consumers to see if what they’ve produced leads to its intended purpose and outcome. This frequent checking helps catch incorrect assumptions before acting on them has big consequences.

2. Quality of construction: Quality is often …

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"O, it is excellent To have a giant's strength! But it is tyrannous To use it like a giant."

- William Shakespeare