Preston Smith's Corner

How can we keep from being blindsided when world priorities shift?

October 2001 Quick Tip

The tragic events on 11 September 2001 prompted changes for all of us. Beyond the enormous human toll, many businesses faced a new and different world. In many cases, the products and services they offered no longer fit the new circumstances. They needed to make changes – quickly.

To me, the prime benefit of a rapid development capability is this agility to make changes in product offerings quickly. This is not the majority view. When time to market was a hot topic nearly a decade ago, most managers believed that it was something they should apply to every one of their projects.

Instead, we advised that rapid development was a kit of tools – a capability if you will – that should be applied selectively only when the economics of the project at hand demanded it. Few managers have appreciated the latent benefit in being able to move quickly if their market demanded it. Today, many wish that they had cultivated such agility.

Many companies have pursued a Web-enabled, do-it-right-the-first-time, stages-and-gates development process that is efficient in stable times. But such processes often have baggage built into them that channels every project through the process in the same predictable way. They lack the agility to put certain projects in the fast lane.

Many of the publications on this Website will help you build agility into your process. To learn more about the limitations of gated processes, read our last Quick Tip “Should we be using a stages-and-gates product development process?“. For more on the fallacy of do-it-right-the-first-time, see our PDBPR column.

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

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