Responsive Strategy: How Agile Can Help

Carleton is an Associate Director Portfolio Management in Queensland, Australia.

Nothing makes a project manager reach for the requirements specification like the announcement that the corporate strategy is changing. Suddenly, all of those carefully documented assumptions about the direction the company is moving in are cast in doubt. When this happens on a regular basis, it can feel like going three rounds with a prize fighter; you’ll never know where the next surprise blow is coming from.

One project where I encountered this scenario involved developing data transfers for the sale of government-owned assets. Every day or two, a bidder would approach with a new proposal that would result in a shift in project direction as the company angled toward the best possible outcome by a fixed deadline.

These changes were more than simple scope changes; they affected the fundamental operation of the company going forward. Teams worked around the clock to deliver a constantly changing outcome.

The data transfer project was ultimately successful thanks to heroic efforts on the part of the delivery teams. The insane pace was only sustainable because there was a defined end date. Had this scenario persisted for much longer without some of the corrective action suggested above, I have no doubt that it would have ultimately been a failure. 

Matching Agile Techniques to Adaptive Strategy
In an ideal world, strategy acts as a guiding light, providing…

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"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

- Albert Einstein

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