I was going to write a proper post today, now that I am back in the office, but then I found the below article and I felt compelled to share it. In my opinion, it is such an accessible and apt description of what it takes to innovate that I think can enlighten and inspire anyone to try doing things in an agile way.
Since most of my friends are actually not involved in the world of software development, when trying to describe what I do and how we do it, I tend to try and make comparisons to real life scenarios they can relate to. Today, I thought I’d share a wonderful example I stumbled across a little while ago;
Since I have been monopolizing ladies in agile last week, let’s start this week with a male voice – funnily enough talking about commitment, which if you ever watched a romantic comedy, is supposedly the last thing on their minds. 😉
A big part of agile development is engaging users, regularly and frequently, to get feedback on the product developed to date. Since our product spans multiple user groups in many different locations, it is not always the easiest thing to get a good subset of users together to evaluate what we have done so far.
Even the simple choice of choosing the location can be quite a challenge. Do we meet at our corporate office? Do we spread out and schedule various sessions on location? Do we just run the whole thing via video conference?
While we have done various versions of the above, the one thing we have yet to try out is do the entire interaction online instead of in person. The one main benefit of trying this out is fairly obvious, it would save the project both time and money if everyone could simply run the meeting(s) from their own location. No lengthy plane journeys to foreign locations, no rental of meeting space, no expensive printing of workshop materials. Sounds great! …or does it!?
Perhaps an approach like this might work if our entire user base was American. (I realize I’m going to stereotype a little bit here, and I apologise in advance if I offend anyone in the process.) In my experience, our American user base is very engaged, very critical and not shy to voice their opinion. For them, having a few shorter online sessions to review the product might actually work quite nicely. They can work it in to their day-to-day and still provide the valuable feedback we really need.
However, a significant portion of our users are based in Asia. And Asia is a completely different story. Not that our users aren’t as engaged or keen to share their feedback, they are, but they are also a lot more reserved and more careful about what they share. Also, a lot of them are newer to the software and have never been involved in feedback sessions before, unlike their American counterparts. For me and my team this means we need to spend some time making them comfortable to really say what they think, not what they think we want to hear.
In the end, it’s up to us to find the right balance and approach for each of our user groups, and to make sure we don’t accidentally favor some of them, only because they make more noise…