Agile is a mask for the mediocre

Fail fast, fail often!” recommended the Lean Startup Guru.

“No risk, no innovation!” warns the Agile Expert.

“Don’t worry, we will fix that in our next iteration!” assures the Scrum Master.

Behind all these seemingly well intentioned statements lies a systemic problem. Some Agile folks are in a tearing hurry to get somewhere. However most of the times, they end up nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been part of some great Agile projects and I have seen some real success stories first hand. The problem I have, is with impatience and impetuosity leading to bad decisions. In the race to go-to-market, there is a risk for these bad decisions to actually kill the market for you.

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

Thomas Merton

Do Design Sprints suffer from the same problem?

I need to clarify something first. A Design Sprint is not an Agile Development Process. It is, however, a time bound process that forces you to arrive upon a prototype at the end of the five day sprint. The process is structured to help you reach the goal. However flawed understanding and improper implementations can be very detrimental and lead to bad results.

To start with, some teams are not ready to spend the full five days on the process. Sometimes they will rotate between team members. And more often than not, group dynamics can be tricky and lead to biased results. Finally at the end of it, if the prototype is validated, the team will not be motivated to iterate any further.

A prime example of the last problem is the Savioke Relay robot which was an excellent outcome of a documented Sprint, but has hardly seen any innovation post the initial development. Meanwhile the KLM Care-e robot seems a feel like a much more useful and delightful experience.

Finite time boundaries and linear processes do impel teams to move forward. However some teams, under the pretext of keeping pace, cut corners. While others fail to reflect and learn from the past. And a lot of them refuse to take it forward after the first round of innovation has been achieved. This results in half-baked products and sub-par experiences.

Is there any value in being Time bound?

I’m certain you don’t need any convincing about the value of having goals and aiming to meet them. It is important, but like any other part of life, an unreal emphasis on goals can cause a lot of heartbreaks. Instead if the goals are more organic in nature, the project will flow a lot smoother and will meet the goals that matter the most. Those of satisfaction and revenue.

We need exactly such an organic process if we want design to flourish. Design Thinking process and Design Sprints were not developed with these goals in mind. Hence the process seems much more like, well, a process.

Instead what we need is something more natural. And this is what we are working on. It is a process called Design Flourishing.

If you wish to join in building the process, do get in touch.


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