The 3 Guiding Principles for bringing your best ideas to life
Value. Flow. Quality. These three ideas weren’t just chosen because they make for a nice acronym; they’re the guiding principles that we live by and champion.
We developed VFQ as a way to make changing the way you work more effective. All companies are overwhelmed by the need to change at speed and implement every new methodology that has been launched, regardless of whether it works or not. To streamline this, we decided to synthesize all of the new modern ways of thinking into a simple set of principles. These encompassed design-thinking, product management, agile, lean startup and systems thinking, among others. We chose a small set of principles because it’s easier to remember and make relevant across a wide variety of people.
The Agile Manifesto – developed in 2001 by a wide-ranging group of agile experts who hoped to make software development more practical – is four value statements and 12 principles. Each one of these is useful and relevant. The problem? No one remembers all of them. Not even people who really, really care about them. Suffice to say, that is not an ideal way for engaging large groups of people across an enterprise.
VFQ distills this all into three key agile principles that bring a new way of working to life in relevant, contextual techniques and practices. It creates an anchor for all other methodologies to hang off.
But, what exactly do value, flow and quality mean, practically, in the real world? What do they look like in action?
Value: Delivering early and often
Creating real value means changing how we think about timelines for delivering value. It’s time to say goodbye to the days when projects were laid out in big, elaborate timetables that meticulously spelled out deadlines for each phase of a project.
All too often, setting timelines in stone means creating opportunities to get jammed up on those deadlines and miss them altogether. The aim of committing to timelines was always more about managing costs than it was about ensuring the right value was being created. Ultimately, big projects and programs lead to added costs, wasted time and the risk of flat out project cancellations.
Instead of grouping everything together in one lump-sum timetable, simply deliver as early and often as possible to keep the momentum going. Incremental changes pave the path for more practical and achievable benefits.
Flow: End-to-end workflow optimization
Too much time is spent focusing on… well, time. Analyzing the amount of time needed to complete projects misses the point. How do we get our best ideas to market fastest? And, how do we get the most value from our limited capacity?
Rather than concentrating on how long something takes, focus instead on optimizing the flow of work from points A to Z. If you can pinpoint and eliminate the constraints that inevitably lay somewhere along the way in those workflows, you can also improve how quickly that work can be delivered at the same time. Two birds, one stone.
Quality: Fueled by fast feedback
Many companies take a “I don’t know art, but I know what I like” approach to their projects. In other words, they don’t know what they really want until they finally see it.
We can hone this approach to the innovation process even further, by creating systems that quickly elicit feedback from a product’s target audience and users, and then direct that feedback right back to the project team. This ensures that companies are building the right things, in the right ways, to meet their customers’ exact needs.
How often are you delivering value? What are the constraints slowing down your workflows? How big a part of the equation is customer feedback for you?