Project Management

An Innovation Revolution (Part 3): Agile

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I’ve been focusing a number of articles recently on the idea of post-COVID innovation (read Part 1 on Strategy and Part 2 on PMOs). My premise is that recovery for organizations is going to need new approaches—and with the amount of innovation that organizations have demonstrated in dealing with the current crisis, the natural response is to continue to leverage that innovative thinking in employees and deliver a brand-new way of doing business.

There’s already a lot of talk around the technology side of that with the increased focus on digital transformation that has resulted from COVID-19, but innovation takes things much further—focusing on entirely new ways of doing business.

On the face of it, agile project approaches are perfectly suited for innovation-based initiatives. Innovation implies an exploration of the unknown, and agile projects are designed to deliver effective outcomes when the approach and/or end product are uncertain. The concept of building something, gaining feedback and then adjusting is exactly how innovative solutions will be developed. But I’m not sure things are quite that simple. The problem is not that innovation projects won’t follow that model, it’s that agile has evolved to the point where it’s not flexible enough to support that without adjustment.

Let me explain what I mean. In the last …

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"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

- Orson Welles, The Third Man



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