Preston Smith's Corner

In general, how do I improve the flexibility of my product development?

January 2007 Quick Tip

You may have noticed several recent Quick Tip messages on flexibility, which is because I am writing a book on flexible development, to be released by Jossey-Bass in September of this year. Each Quick Tip has been a mini-summary of one chapter. There are two more to go, but let’s take a break and consider, in general, how one enhances flexibility.

Flexibility is the ability to react to change effectively during development.

One technique is anticipation. This is different from forecasting. Rather than trying to predict the future, anticipation is being sensitive to trends, patterns, and things that seem unusual, which are the harbingers of change. Then, when change happens, you are waiting for it.

Another is responsiveness, so that the organization can act quickly when change occurs. Beyond the mindset needed that change is often beneficial, this requires that people and systems are not overloaded so that queues are short to provide quick reaction.

Skill in delaying decisions (see an earlier Quick Tip “How can I develop products more flexibly by changing our decision making?“), while simultaneously collecting information to make a better decision when its last responsible moment arrives, is critical for enhancing flexibility.

In general, the approach is to keep the cost of change low for as long as possible and to recognize areas that have high costs of change so that change can be avoided in them. This implies actively building and maintaining options.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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