Staying Agile at Corevist
“Der mentsh trakht und Gott lakht” – Man plans and god laughs.
That proverb separates the Agilists of the world from the Traditionalists.
Agilists truly believe that you can spend as much time as you’d like planning a project, but the only thing you can count on with 100% certainty is that the plan won’t unfold as planned.
The Traditionalist’s goal is to conform the project to the plan.
Agilists conform the plan in order to realize the project’s goal.
Today’s post is about those rare occasions where no amount of planning, or adjusting the plan, is going to rescue the project. That’s not a happy thought, but it’s important to have a plan up front for how you’re going to sense that you’re on a death march project and develop your action plans before you need them. That’s because odds are, when you’re in the midst of battle, you’ll do your best to convince yourself that with only a little more time, or with only a few more resources, or if you give that teammate/partner/contractor one more chance…all things will be good again.
Today’s post is about the Agile rules for failure at Corevist.
We’re about to partner with a company in Belarus to extend our engineering team. Our business is strong, it’s growing and we need more technical resources to help us meet the demands of our clients. The folks in Belarus are smart, motivated, experienced and affordable. So we’re going to invest our time, money and energy to develop these resources. They are critical to our growth plans. Since we’re experts at working virtually, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge for us.
Overall, we’ve planned the project optimistically, we’re going to manage it skeptically (show me) and we’re going to adjust ruthlessly. If we get to the other end having produced the work product we agreed to, and still enjoy working with each other, than we can declare victory and move on to the next project.
We’re Agile and it’s all good.
But…what if? What if things aren’t working the way we plan and we’re not able to steer it back on track ? How will we know when it’s time to call it quits and move to plan B (which we already have in place)?
We’ve put together the following 5 Rules that will guide us through this (hopefully not to be realized) worst case scenario. These are non-negotiable.
- Lack of communication/response – No response to inquiries or communications (during business hours) within a 24 hour period constitutes a “strike”. Two strikes and you’re out.
- No Surprises allowed – At Corevist, we’re agile. We know that failure is part of the process and, when managed properly, can be a very positive milestone towards success. We understand that failure is going to happen and milestones will be missed at times, but they should NOT be a surprise. Declaring failure for the first time AT the milestone is not an option… obstacles and challenges should be communicated as early as possible. Finding out about a failure at the deadline for delivery constitutes a “strike”… Two strikes and you’re out.
- Lack of Integrity and Professional Courtesy – This one is pretty straight-forward. Lie to us, steal from us, put our clients at risk in any way or any illegal activity will trigger an immediate “one strike you’re out” rule.
- Lack of Delivery – As stated in #2, failure early is positive, if it is followed by success. Consistent and repeated failures with little to no subsequent success is a definitive cause for separation. Failure to deliver as expected across 2 consecutive milestones constitutes a strike. “Two strikes and you’re out”.
- Not taking our relationship seriously – We are looking to make you a critical part of our team and expect you to operate as such. It’s understood that in an outsourced scenario, the dynamics and members of the remote team may change. If the dynamics, availability or members do change, please communicate and manage accordingly. We expect to be notified as soon as the change is necessary… Arriving at a milestone or deadline review meeting to find new team members or missing team members for the first time is unacceptable. This will constitute a “one strike you’re out”
In the meantime, I look forward to making new friends and extending our development team. But I won’t be traveling to Belarus in the winter :-).