COVID-19 is like that car accident just up ahead which you know you shouldn’t be focusing on while driving, but which draws the attention of all around it. After doing a number of articles related to the pandemic, I’d planned to write about something completely different, but as my weekly blogging time drew near I realized that there was (at least) one more topic I needed to write about.
I’ve often said that one of the bigger challenges with agile transformations is the costs of doing nothing (different) today is cheaper than those of changing things so that they will be much better a year or two down the line. This is especially true when you look at companies which operate in markets which are near monopolies or oligopolies as they might still succeed in spite of themselves. Implementing transformations such companies can be orders of magnitude more difficult than in those companies who need to always be more efficient and effective than their competitors in order to survive.
But all that has changed.
Operating budgets have been slashed, companies have frozen hiring, supply chains are under such heavy demand that materials may be unavailable when needed and staff availability is even more unpredictable. Regulations are being introduced at lightning speed, fast-tracking public policy changes in hours or days which normally would take months to push through.
And worse, don’t expect a quick resolution.
Under such conditions, it is not enough to just deliver business value from your projects as early and regularly as possible, avoiding non-value add efforts and inspecting and adapting based on changes within and without.
Portfolio investment decisions will also need to be made in a similar manner. Funding plans might need to focus on shorter time horizons and provide Plan B (and C and D) options of what could be delivered with progressively greater constraints on investment.
Defining right-sized MVPs, MBIs and MMRs will be critical.
Product and solution viability risks will have to be explored much earlier than they might have been previously.
Understanding our cross-functional value streams and finding ways to reduce the cost of delay across them will be that much more critical.
And teams will have to take an enterprise-level view, making sure they are engaging delivery and control stakeholders appropriately so that business and control objectives are both being met.
And above all, we need to double-down on putting people first.