High Risk High Reward


Principle number three of the Agile Manifesto says, “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale”. Delivering working product (software, hardware, services, etc.) is the measurement in an Agile Transformation, where business value becomes a reality. Customers, internal or external, respond value by buying our product, not buying it, or giving us feedback on what they would like to see us do different.

When looking at what is next for your organization and your products, the list will likely seem endless. Where do you start? Counter to intuition, we propose you start with a High Risk, High Reward product or product feature. “But won’t that invite failure?” you might ask? And the answer is “YES!”.  If you want to learn what your Scrum Team is capable of, give them the biggest problem to solve where they stand to learn the most.  Risk, when realized, is a learning. Agility is about how fast can you learn if what you are doing is working or not, and then how quick can you adapt accordingly.

Product Owners should repeat this question to themselves, their Customers, and their Stakeholders on a regular basis: “If you could only have one product feature next, what would that be and what value will that give you?”  This question forces us to prioritize our features based on value and not on and individual opinion. As each new feature or value increment is produced, we need to ask this question again.  Just because the #2 feature is on top of the backlog after delivering the #1 feature, it doesn't automatically mean the Development Team should start working on that. Delivering feature #1 may have introduced a new opportunity not even on our radar until we have seen how the market has responded.  Remember, in Agile we are constantly learning, planning, and re-planning based on empirical information. 

If we can understand how long it takes our Scrum Team to deliver the most complex product feature, we can understand how long it will take them to deliver the next features. Release Planning, Sprint Planning, Stakeholder Management and Client expectation setting becomes predictable and consistent. At that moment, you will be entering the world of “Fearless Planning”.

Please reach out to me at Christain@CoLeadTeam.com if would like to have a deeper conversation about this or anything you are encountering with your Agile Transformation.

Video Transcript:

Hi. I'm Christian Antoine. I'm an Agile Instructor & Coach with the Collaborative Leadership Team. I want to talk to you about principle number three from the Agile Manifesto. Delivery of working product with preference towards a shorter time scale. Why do we want that shorter time scale? It's because of the feedback loop. We're going to learn quicker whether we're building the right thing or not.

A lot of times teams are asked to do a lot of things, so how do we know which thing to do first? Everything's important sometimes, but sometimes we have to take a high-risk, high-reward approach. We did this with one of the first teams I was on, and the learning is what really cemented why we want to deliver working products sooner.

We took the highest risk, highest reward item. We completed it during that sprint, and with the learnings that we got from building that, we were able to have a conversation with our sponsor just two weeks into the effort to explain that what they had asked us to build and the knowledge that we had just gained with that previous experiment told us we did not have enough money to build all that they wanted to build.

Prior to that, most times I experienced that conversation happening towards the end of an effort, where the time was short or gone or the money was gone. This was a much better feeling. Although it was a difficult conversation, it started to build trust between us and our project sponsor because they realized that we understood what it was going to take to deliver something, and we got that learning by forcing ourselves to build something within the first sprint even if it was a high risk, high reward.

For more information, please go to our website, CollaborativeLeadershipTeam.com

About Collaborative Leadership Team:

Collaborative Leadership Team (CLT) is the premier Agile Consultancy. We believe in the Values and Principles of the Agile Manifesto. Our mission is to train and coach Individuals, Teams and Leaders. This will improve their ability to deliver valuable, consistent, working product. Companies that adopt this way of working will reduce their cost of change and keep up with the evolving demands of their Customers. CLT helps you achieve your goals through Assessments, Training, Coaching and Mentoring.

Since 2010, CLT has had a significant impact on the way people and organizations achieve higher levels of productivity:

  • Over 15,000 Students trained in Agile & Scrum

  • Over 100 Organizations (Fortune 500 to family businesses) are achieving their goals by transforming and adopting Agile & Scrum

CLT brings Agile experience from all areas of business and technology. The Executive Suite, Software Development, Hardware Development, and Team Dynamics & Optimization.

For more information including Training offerings, Coaching offerings, Client Feedback. and more, please visit us at http://collaborativeleadershipteam.com