written for Pearson Education
It’s time to take the pressure off striving for perfection, to survive current fast paced markets, businesses, and their teams need to be agile over being perfect. It takes time and repetition to achieve perfection, and that is a luxury we cannot always achieve in today’s ever evolving business world.
Being agile is an effective way to get the job done by achieving satisfaction, by valuing solving the problem over building the perfect solution.
Being agile means to accept learning & collaboration as a way to embrace change and continuously improve our work. Imperfection is a part of the process in our work and in creating, growing and sustaining a successful business.
Get your ideas out of your head, share them with your colleagues and get out of the office and share them with others too, understand better the problem you are trying to solve and test drive your ideas. By sharing your ideas early you’ll begin to build a community around your idea, gaining buy in to your solution and help in developing it further. Validate your ideas, verify your assumptions and build your solution based on real metrics of feedback and behaviour, your definition of success may not be identical to others.
Early feedback is essential in developing good work quickly that is fit for purpose. Don’t lock yourself away trying to create the perfect product, get the concept out there early, share your minimum viable product to gain feedback. Naturally we tend to want to get it right before we show anyone, and release a perfect product to the world, but if we share our work early we can find out what people think and how to improve, we can correct ourselves early, reducing the amount of rework needed later.
Once there is a minimum viable solution that validates our ideas and delivers value, we can make small incremental improvements to refine and scale that solution.
The closer to perfection you wish to be the more that will cost, in time, resources and cash, while you may be adding value the returns will diminish as costs escalate. There comes a point where the effort you put in exceeds the value you get from further improvement, know when to stop, don’t spend so long coming up with the solution that the moment of opportunity has passed and the world has moved on.
Wilfredo Pareto an economist in the early 20th century presented a theory that 80% of the value we create comes from 20% of the effort put in. Identifying this 20% helps to ensure we focus on what creates the most value quickly and effectively.
Agile is a value-driven method, with success measured on value created. It focuses on the creation of working solutions that create the best return on investment.
Give yourself time to reflect and analyse your business models and solutions and use the Pareto principle to help you to identify the 20% that is of the most value, optimise the amount of ‘work not done’ to reach your objectives.
Perfection is hard to implement and even harder to maintain, it requires a lot of control and discipline. Processes and tools can become a constraint, making systems rigid and over complicated in the name of achieving perfection. Use agile methods to maintain flexible and adaptive systems that allow for change, growth and improvement.
Agile works by integrating change on a regular basis, whether it is driven by internal or external forces. It is a learning-based method and builds continuous improvement into the daily workflow, with slack built in to enable time to improve and respond to changing circumstances.
Tracking our work with agile tools to identify the blocks, barriers and limitations means we can continuously improve our work and our working environment. Success metrics should inform us about what we can do better and not just what’s going well. Agile provides a structure to build viable products in small iterative improvements rather than one solitary perfect solution.
Perfection is an ideal, and we must value agility and the ability to change and adapt over the ambition to achieve perfection. We should ensure we satisfy needs and look to optimise our performance and value delivered, and that may not require perfection.
Belinda Waldock is a leading business coach who has worked to help hundreds of small to medium sized businesses to overcome the challenges of fast growth by adopting agile practices to create a culture of agility.
Being Agile in Business provides simple, jargon-free advice that is designed to be read in an agile way – in short bursts that can then be put into action in the real world. The book walks the reader through agile, explaining how the strategies and tools can enable organisations and individuals to work faster and smarter and navigate the uncertainty that all businesses face every day. As well as tactics, tools, templates and other practical guides, Being Agile in Business provides real life case studies to illustrate just how agile can enable leaders to find their own way to thrive in any situation.