We think agile methods need to be value-based, in short we think of value-based agile. Most organisations need to innovate in an agile way. The switch to value-based agile as a method and thought process is going to help.
Why do you need help? Because most transformations fail to meet their sponsors' expectations. Whether we are talking digital transformation or platform transformation, the overwhelming majority end in a sense of failure.
Over the next few posts we will go into some of the reasons for this. Our aim is to share an important idea. Agile helps you move more nimbly but it doesn't help you to understand markets any better. Nor does it mean you are nimbly delivering real value to customers. These outcomes need a different skill set.
Agile does not have a proactive value tool kit. It is good at helping IT departments to work faster. The idea of being able to pivot quickly can be brought into the wider business. You can talk about sprints in all areas, not just IT. However, what we really need are ways to filter out work of low value. Keep the dross out of the innovation funnel. Filter in work that's high in value for customers.
The two Flow books are written to get you thinking how to do this. One tool we use is CATE. It's a very simple tool for assessing customer success factors, asset discovery, targeting ideation, and developing an ecosystem.
In this post we are focusing on assets. When you promote or take charge of a new project or product do you scout around your existing asset base for components that will help? Do you really value your existing assets in a new project? Do you really know what assets you already have?
Most organisations we work with allow different assets to wither on the vine. They move from project to project, initiative to initiative, pitching new ideas to management and winning the game of getting budget approval. But they often lose site of what they already have.
Routinely we find an abundance of assets that have been built or written but which are lying unused because the company has "moved on".
Those assets can be software modules that somebody left behind because they were dragged off to another job. They can be tools that were built but didn't get initial traction. Or they can be content assets. Or assets like reputation or design perspectives.
People abandon or underutilise these assets for a variety of reasons. One is that digital assets are not as expensive to build as physical assets, They also tend to be invisible. Another is that the rate of innovation is sometimes frenetic. People don't place a value on assets because they are too busy. Therefore the assets get lost. Or finance sucks money out of projects so it can show a good quarter and the money never comes back.
In-house asset discovery is an extremely important aspect of value-based agility. It is step 3 in what we think of as the most important upstream steps to bring sanity into the modern organisation.
The diagram above shows how we introduce into the conversation about new products. Prior to the CATE value wheel we will already have done substantial work on the segmentation of a market. We do segmentations so we can clearly identify customer success factors. In the best of worlds we will be contributing to how a customer achieves his or her goals.
Understanding those goals and how to meet them is an iterative process. We look at assets, targeted ideation and ecosystems. Asset discovery involves us in conversations where we say:
If we are to help meet these customer goals what assets would we typically need to deploy? Do we have those assets? If not where do we need to innovate.
Normally we find participants are slow to respond to the idea of pre-existing assets. They want to be on a new project. But the assets can be teased out. Somebody will remember a project that took place a year ago where modules were built. Somebody else might remember that the company already has a track record in AI but never called it that (maybe referring to image processing). Or a tool built in shadow IT that no managers know about.
There's no secret to asset discovery other than to have intelligent conversations about how best to meet a customer goal. If you do it right, you cut down on innovation work. You end up targeting innovation. And you keep waste out of the funnel.