Note: This is part of an ongoing series where we dive a bit deeper into the 4 values and 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto. Click here to check out Agile Principle #1.
Agile Principle #2: “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
Core to the agile product development mindset shift is recognition that the world we live in is fluid. What the user wanted yesterday may not be what they want today when you finally release that shiny new product that you’ve been working on for months. Instead of assuming that we know what they want, how they’ll respond to product changes, etc. we adapt our processes to efficiently handle the constant, inevitable change as a result of real user feedback that we must seek as often as possible.
Welcome changing requirements…
Requirements are outdated nearly the minute they’re captured. They often also reflect what the user thinks they want rather than what they truly need. It’s only when they get their hands on the product that we discover usability issues, new problems the user needs solved, etc. As a result, don’t marry yourself to requirements — they’re almost guaranteed to be wrong and will need to be modified down the line. In fact, perhaps we should stop calling them requirements at all — how does SWAG’s sound?
…even late in development.
Users typically don’t get their hands on new features until they’re released to a production environment. This means that any changes based on their feedback are inherently “late in development”, but guess what — that’s OK! The important part is that we’re delivering smaller chunks of incremental value rather than one “big bang” release where said late changes are very costly.
Regardless of the process your team employs — Scrum, Kanban, XP, or some other hybrid version therein — agile processes are characterized by their ability to efficiently respond to changing requirements. If you’re not able to quickly adapt to change, you’re not following an agile process.
Winning organizations are those that are able to achieve tight product-market fit at incredible speeds. The faster you align with the user’s needs, the earlier value is created both for them and the business, allowing more investment to be pumped back into new product initiatives earlier, creating more value, resulting in even more new product investment , etc. — the process goes on and on, further separating winning agile organizations from their competition. Tanmoy Das eloquently captured this concept when he stated that “Agile is compound interest on continuous improvements.” Micro-adjustments to better align with user needs can make a big difference in the long run.
…for the customer’s competitive advantage.
People use products because they add value to their lives. We emphasize the ability to harness change so that we are able to deliver more of this value — whatever it may be — to our customers earlier than is otherwise possible. The compounding nature of continuous improvements enabled by a mature agile organization applies to value realized by both the business and its users.
“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
The ability to adapt to change is at the heart of an efficient agile organization. The faster you can adapt to change and integrate new requirements into the product for the customer’s benefit, the faster you can kickstart the engine of compounding value. The ability to overcome the increasing competition flying at you from all directions and ultimately win in your market lies in your willingness to listen to user feedback, embrace the inevitable change, and remain tenacious in your dedication to using it to your customer’s advantage.
What does this principle mean to you? How does your team live out this principle in your day-to-day lives? How can your team do better demonstrating this principle in practice? Head over to the responses where I highly encourage a healthy discussion/debate to help fine-tune these recommendations in the name of spreading the agile love!