Second in a series of leadership lessons this recovering conventional manager has learned from his inspiring Agilist colleagues.

The Agile pioneers discovered that it was far better to create a small amount of working software and release it fast than to wait for a large product to be fully ready. This was because users and customers would then have an ability to try out and respond to a working product.  Both the development teams and their customers learned quickly and incrementally. This way of working transcended the tendency of managers and planners to believe they could see far enough ahead to develop detailed specifications for a product months or years in advance. Instead, the product was developed in small increments, with learning all along the way.

As a leadership matter, this approach is the antidote to leaders’ believing they can create a detailed answer to business challenges before engaging with the market and the customer. Instead, we are all invited to set a direction as a hypothesis, then trust ourselves and our colleagues to create small increments of value frequently and rapidly in response, ship them to the customer, and learn directly from the results.

Next post: Set your course, but commit only incrementally and iteratively.