Making a Difference: Change For Free!

From the PMI Global Insights Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , ,
The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Dan Furlong
Danielle Ritter
Marjorie Anderson
David Maynard
Kristin Jones
Fabio Rigamonti
Emily Luijbregts
Priya Patra
Karthik Ramamurthy
Stephanie Jaeger
Moritz Sprenger

Past Contributers:

Deepa Bhide
Nic Jain
Karen Chovan
Jack Duggal
Catalin Dogaru
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Sandra MacGillivray
Gina Abudi
Sarah Mersereau
Lawrence Cooper
Yves Cavarec
Nadia Vincent
Carlos Javier Pampliega García
Michelle Stronach
Laura Samsó
Marcos Arias
Cheryl Lee
David Davis

Recent Posts

How does your behaviour support you in achieving your goals? - PMIEMEA19 Recap

Networking, knowledge and insight: PMIEMEA19

Final Summary of PMI EMEA Congress 2019 – my 3 top Lesson’s Learned

Round up of Videos from PMIEMEA19

Agility, Generativity, Terrific TED, and a Sparkling Shiny Surprise! Terrific Third Day of #PMIEMEA19



This post is unabashedly about adaptability and agility.

We all want to make a difference. We also want the things we work on and create through our work to make a difference. In order for the things we create to make a difference to our business clients, they have to reflect the knowledge and insights of what is needed we gain as we work on creating products. This recognizes that we can't know everything up front. 

One of the challenges with traditional approaches is how to address change to reflect the new knowledge and insights  that the business acquires along the way. We know how it works - create a change request, fill in all the necessary sections to talk about what the change means to cost, schedule, scope. risks, who needs to approve, etc. It gets even more complicated and onerous, and expensive when we are dealing with vendors. It often makes you wonder if it's even worth the effort as most changes get rejected due to their cost or schedule implications anyway. Near the end of the project the change requests are often focused on removing things from the project to stay within budgets, timelines, or both.

In my experience, some the things that get dropped under such conditions can have significant value, while some of the things that were done early on actually had far less value, as the delivery approach is not based on an incremental highest value first model.

However, when agile approaches are practiced correctly, change can be free. No really. They can be free.

How can I possibly say that?

Let's use Scrum as the premise. When teams use Scrum they do the highest value things first. The backlog has everything they know so far about what they intend to build into the product. It is a statement of intent though - it is not cast in stone. It can be changed for the next and future Sprints based on new information, changes in team and business understanding of what is possible with the product, as well as priority changes of what is highest value by the business and the Product Owner.

The Product Owner is the one that talks to the business about what the product mus do, how long it will take to build it (the number of Sprints) and the cost. It is not uncommon to fix the number of Sprints and hence the costs at the outset. A good reason for doing this is so that everyone develops a laser-focus on what is truly of highest value first. The premise for this post is this was done.

The Sprint demo is where the business gets to see what was done so far in the latest increment of the product. They also get to reflect on the choices so far about what is in the product. Their reflection is also about what to do next.

  • They can continue based on the backlog grooming and hence the highest value items at the top of the backlog
  • They can choose to redo the priorities of what's highest value based on what is already in the backlog
  • They can choose to add new things to the backlog as highest value and hence will need to be done next

The team has a cadence to which it develops and delivers.  If you can agree on the number of total points that the product will contain based on the agreed number of Sprints, then any changes you need to make along the way, as long you drop items with the same number of points as the ones you are adding, then the actual cost of a change is free.

This is one of the ways to look at what is so paradoxically different about the thinking in agile versus traditional approaches. It forces you to really think about what matters most and to truly get the idea of being adaptable to what emerges. If something emerges that  has a higher business value than what you had previously identified then it must take precedence. 

Remember it's about what is valued most, not everything that may have value. What is valued most is based on what we currently know, which can be quite different than what we knew a month or two ago.

So whether it is an internal Scrum team, or one that as put in place through a procurement process, if you're really willing to focus on what has the highest value and willing to drop items that are of lesser value, then you should be able to make changes for free!

Jeff Sutherland, co-author of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the Scrum Guide first suggested the idea of change for free in a class in the Netherlands in 2006.

What do you think - can we do a better job of facilitating others to make a difference today so that our organizations benefit now and continue to do so in the long run?

If you’d like to talk strategic intent, adaptive strategy, back-casting over forecasting, outcomes over outputs, any of the agilities, or pretty much anything you think I may be able to help you with in making a difference in your world, here is my availability during the conference:

  • Saturday the 28th from 1:30 to 4:30
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 12:00

You can also connect with me at:

  • https://twitter.com/cooperlk99
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawrencekcooper
  • www.TheAgilitySeries.com

Posted by Lawrence Cooper on: September 23, 2017 09:34 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Larry, we are meant to reveal leadership skills in people around us.

Thank you for sharing

Thanks for sharing Lawrence, Agile will always deliver a viable solution on time and on budget so long as the practices of MoSCow are followed.

I really like this idea

Thanks for your thoughts.

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be altogether irreclaimably bad."

- Thomas Carlyle

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors