When Speed Is Important, Agile Alone Is Not Enough

Donna Fitzgerald is a seasoned PPM and strategy execution expert, specializing in practical advice designed to produce the results organizations need. She spent 10 years at Gartner helping clients solve such problems as how to effectively execute strategy, how to convert the IT PMO into an agile powerhouse and how to improve their enterprise portfolio management. Prior to Gartner, Donna ran an agile software development organization, was a product manager at two software companies, co-founded a program management consulting company and was a Silicon Valley trained CFO. She also was a co-author in 2005 of the agile project management "Declaration of Interdependence." See her blogs and more of her writing at Nimblepm.com.

I now live in the land of NASCAR. To say it’s a different world from the Pacific Northwest high-tech bastion I left six years ago would be an understatement. One of the most striking differences about living here (aside from seeing the sun and feeling the heat) is that tech talk doesn’t dominate every discussion. In fact, I now know people whose entire lives are centered around motorized vehicles that go very fast.

This need for speed resonates with me. I often share the story that the most important lesson I learned from Andy Grove (the former CEO of Intel) is “anything that is worth doing is worth doing quickly.” I have always understood this statement to be a simple decision-making heuristic.

It implies:         

  1. Are we leaving actual hard cash on the table by not doing this now?
  2. Are the odds overwhelmingly good that it will pump up revenue?
  3. Is the time investment and the cost small enough that we’d be fools not to do it?
  4. Do we believe we can handle the potential risks and still get it done quickly?

And of course, the big question…

  1. Is this so important that we are willing to stop doing something we are doing today to get this done quickly?

While not every company is the same, in my experience it is always easier to find money to do something important; it&rsquo…

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"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

- Pablo Picasso