Unlock the Full Value of Agile Development Using the Lean Startup Methodology

Agile development is becoming ubiquitous in the development world.  By defining requirements as small, self-contained user stories, developing them in short (2 or 3 week) sprints, and iteratively deploying the latest code in order to get early testing and acceptance by users has made development teams much more efficient at building software.  No longer do developers receive thick specification documents that are rarely, if ever, read and fully understood, and no longer do developers lock themselves away and work on something for months on end, culminating in a big bang high-stakes release.  With agile development, problems are found quickly and adaptions can occur as needed to fix them, resulting in more efficient use of development resources.

Many companies have found value in adopting Scrum or other agile development methodology.  But are they missing out on some of the overall value of agile development by stopping at the development team?

The Lean Startup Methodology essentially takes the principles of agile development and applies them to the whole business.  In Eric Ries’ book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, he talks about how companies can “achieve failure” by successfully executing a flawed business plan.  If companies are not iterating their product development, and not getting their product in front of users/customers early and often in order to learn what works and what doesn’t through real metrics, then agile development by itself is simply allowing the development team to more efficiently build what could very well end up being the wrong product.

I highly recommend that people working at any company using agile development read Eric’s Lean Startup book to see if there are ways the business can become more agile and unlock the full value of agile development.

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