“Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.”
— Michelangelo

There are phrases I have heard from leaders quite often in recent years. Leaders ask teams to “be more agile” or “to take more risks”.

What the leaders are truly asking for is increased speed to value. What they are trying to avoid is paralysis in the analysis.

They do not want people to be afraid to move forward with the best information they have available to them. Unfortunately with this pressure for speed, many leaders and their teams skip the steps that would help them avoid and recover from problems.

You may have read about automotive recalls caused by software defects. I know the developers of that software are not being rewarded for “taking more risks”. The managers of those projects are certainly not happy with the risks that were taken. In many cases, the managers were not even fully aware of the steps that were being skipped.

Increasing speed to value is possible.

Any methodologies for doing proper analysis without paralysis must follow these four principles.

  1. Focus on the core value needed.  Go beyond the requested feature or the asked-for methodology. Ask “why?” Understand the value to those making the request. Understand the needs of those directly served by what is asked for. Find the core of that value and make it the focus of all the work to be done.
  2. Determine a fast approach to the core value. Consider multiple options for getting quickly to the core value with high quality.  Consider even those options which are beyond your budget and control. Leadership may be willing to invest in options that gain great speed.
  3. Manage risks. Do not just take risks. It is imperative to manage risks.  Any important project will have risks. Identify them. Name names.  Determine mitigations. Be ready with contingencies.
  4. Deliver the value needed.  The best way to build trust with your customers is to consistently provide the value needed 

Before you start a project with great importance, take the time to prepare a robust start. At that moment, think about the joy of delivering great value that works well for your customers. This is no trifle.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

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