In your Business, what are you Optimizing for?
Blog: Agile Adoption Roadmap
One example of optimizing for a plan or process (instead of the customer) is purposefully avoiding customer feedback because it can force you to adjust the plan which can be messy. Another example that I’ve witnessed several times is when actual customer feedback is captured that indicates a change to customer needs, yet the feedback is ignored since sticking the plan is an easier path. This is a sign that the organization may be optimizing for their internal processes or the comfort of sticking to the initial plan. When paired with management objectives of sticking to a schedule, this often leads to a mindset of avoiding any change. Does this sound familiar? Be careful not to fall into this trap. It can be very easy to do. It can lead to losing touch with the customer and poor business results.
There are several ways to gauge if you are optimizing for the customer or for your internal plan or processes. A first way is to identify how often you actually engage with customers (and how many) in ceremonies like demos and sprint reviews. Engaging with many customers indicates you are optimizing for the customer while none or few indicates a leaning toward the internal plan. A second way is to capture how often you actually incorporate customer feedback. Methodically incorporating feedback indicates that you are optimizing for the customer while incorporating little feedback may indicate a leaning toward following the plan. As you look around your project, product, or company, ask yourself, who are you optimizing for? Who should you be optimizing for?