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The Joys of Designing Agile Solutions for New-Age Problems

My talk at the first regional Scrum Gathering India in Pune, July 26-27, 2013

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The Joys of Designing Agile Solutions for New-Age Problems

  1. 1. Tathagat Varma VP, Strategic Process Innovations [24]7 Innovation Labs The Joys of Designing Agile Solutions for New-Age Problems
  2. 2. Discussion Topics New Product Development (“NPD”) What’s new? Why it sucks? How to make it joyful…
  3. 3. How it all started?
  4. 4. With the advent of mass production …
  5. 5. then somewhere down the line…
  6. 6. …and now!
  7. 7. • Task: Visualize your creative / innovation / new product development process • Time: 2 min • Tip: Keep it simple
  8. 8. Does it look like this?
  9. 9. Or, like this?
  10. 10. Why is NPD such fun  Problem: Design an effective lighting solution for Dharavi homes.
  11. 11. Problem: How to help farmers get best prices for their products?
  12. 12. and a world of exciting new ideas…
  13. 13. New Product Development: Old vs New Old NPD Developed markets Industrial Enterprises Large R&D $$$s $(Technology) >> $(People) Closed Innovation Technology-driven Forecast based Production Long gestation period Top 3 / Land grab Mostly Commercial Slow upgrade cycle New NPD Saturated + emerging markets Knowledge-based enterprises Small Startup $s (and ¢) $(Technology) << $(People) Open Innovation User needs-driven Feedback based Design Short experimentations Long tail / Zero Billion $ Often Social Innovations Fast upgrade cycle
  14. 14. Our Charter? Build next Gen Faster, Better, Cheaper… mousetrap!!!
  15. 15. Our challenge… Design, Develop and Deliver Successful Products and Services Continuous Innovation • UX • Features • Performance Deliver at Speed • TTM • Support • Upgrades Manage Total Costs • Idea to Launch • Sell „Free‟ • Protect investment Images:,
  16. 16. Our Odds…
  17. 17. Many reasons, but my 2¢… Uncalibrated assumptions about the constantly changing opportunity, market, products and customer needs Stealth mode mindset that gives no opportunity to get early real-world feedback for course correction Poor collaboration among internal stakeholders leading to conflicts, delays in decision-making and execution, duplication of efforts and diffusion of responsibility, among others Premature Scaling up too soon before all aspects of opportunity, market, products and customer needs have been validated
  18. 18. Sample these beauties…
  19. 19. How to make it better? There’s a way to do it better… Find it. Thomas Edison
  20. 20. What are we trying to solve?
  21. 21. How about the scientific method… “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses”
  22. 22. Would it solve all problems? The scientific method is a pattern of problem-solving behavior employed in finding out the nature of what exists, whereas the design method is a pattern of behavior employed in inventing things of value which do not yet exists. Science is analytic, design is constructive.” (Gregory, 1966)
  23. 23. …and how does our product development process look like? “The Stage-Gate system assumes that the proposed strategy is the right strategy; the problem is that except in the case of incremental innovations, the right strategy cannot be completely known in advance. The Stage-Gate system is not suited to the task of assessing innovations whose purpose is to build new growth businesses, but most companies continue to follow it simply because they see no alternative.” Clayton Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”
  24. 24. Does Agile help?...yes, but… What if you didn’t know if you wanted a painting, a sculpture or a mousetrap, a Monalisa or a Facebook or a Porsche? How would you design and develop something the world hasn’t known yet?
  25. 25. So, what else can we do?
  26. 26. Learn from children!
  27. 27. How Children Learn? Holt observed hundreds of children and came to an interesting conclusion. He found that the best learners are also the ones that are having the most fun. The best learners are the ones that like to play with the noise around them. Play doesn’t work if it isn’t fun, which means that learning in times of chaos and change will tend to work best when it is fun as well. Play minus fun equals labor, which doesn’t have the same learning benefits.
  28. 28. Customer Development
  30. 30. Minimize TOTAL time through the loop Instead of making complex plans that are based on a lot of assumptions, you can make constant adjustments with a steering wheel call the Build- Measure-Learn feedback loops. Through this process of steering, we can learn when and if it’s time to make a sharp turn called a pivot or whether we should persevere along the current path The MVP is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort or development time. The MVP lacks many features that may prove essential later on. MVP is not a minimal product!
  31. 31. Validated Learning • Validated learning about customers is the measure of progress in a Lean Startup – not lines of working code or achieving product development milestones. • Process in which one learns by trying out an initial idea and then measuring it to validate the effect. Each test of an idea is single iteration in a larger process of many iterations whereby something is learnt and the lessons applied to the succeeding tests.[1] • Typical steps in validated learning: – Specify a goal – Specify a metric that represents the goal – Act to achieve the goal – Analyze the metric - did you get closer to the goal? – Improve and try again
  32. 32. Pivot
  33. 33. In the end, it‟s about “Double-loop Learning”
  34. 34. To conclude… Solving a problem makes us happy  Happy minds are better learners Continuous feedback amplifies learning Experimentation is a great way to solve problems and get feedback
  35. 35. References and Pictures • Cover slide: • • put-reading/ • • • • • • • started-in-stealth-mode-and-launched-to-success/ • • about-it/ • • • • • • • •
  36. 36. And remember…in the end, there is no such thing as a „problem‟ 
  37. 37. Thanks…