"Why Iteration is not Innovation"

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How to move fast without blowing your budget

Despite the buzzword status it has achieved, velocity is more than just a fancy word we throw around at board meetings. Moving fast is a measure of our teams’ productivity and efficiency, a fundamental cog in the machinery of innovation. And boy, does it need some oiling.

So how can you crank up the speed dial without blowing your budget? Here’s my take.

First things first…

We put together an entire webinar getting into the really nitty gritty of how to achieve maximal velocity without breaking the bank. If you’re more of a visual learner (or just want the deeper dive), check out the video below:

If you learn by reading (or don’t need all the details), please carry on!

Anyway, here’s the actual takeaways:

Strategy 1: Know How Fast You’re Going

Imagine your team as a spacecraft — you can’t reach exit velocity without knowing how fast you’re going. Gauging your speed is critical. I use story points to evaluate our pace and decide if we’re jetting fast enough.

Adhering to sprint measurements gives you an accurate velocity picture. Throw in daily accountability, and you’ve got a comprehensive performance dashboard that helps monitor team efficacy and speed. But, remember, this isn’t just about speed — it’s about sustained momentum.

Strategy 2: Chart Your Course

You can’t reach your destination without an accurate roadmap. That means sprints conceptualized to the T, tasks prioritized ruthlessly, planning detailed down to the last dot, and dates set in stone (or at least planned in stone… we know that life happens).

Much of the velocity issues I’ve come across aren’t from developers but rather from the work items handed to them. Tasks have to be optimized, actionable, and free of unresolved dependencies. Without these, you’re only setting up your team to fail.

Strategy 3: Team Alignment is Crucial

A unified team is a productive team. Ensure your team has a clear vision of short and long-term goals. Set validation gates for incremental objectives, and then be open and honest about whether you’re hitting those validation gates and why (or why not).

But the real magic happens when everyone rallies behind a shared “why” — this can significantly increase stakeholder buy-in and commitment from the team. After all, nothing fast-tracks a project like having everyone row in the same direction.

Strategy 4: Steady is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

There’s a saying from military circles that I came across in the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg — slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Now, that doesn’t apply to software development quite perfectly, but a version of it does… steady is smooth, smooth is fast.

Avoid the mad rush. Stick to the core pieces of your process. Sure, process ceremonies may seem mundane, but they’re the secret sauce to an efficient workflow.

Regular retrospectives are another non-negotiable. Use them to identify what’s working and what’s not. They often fall by the wayside, but consistency here can lead to continuous improvement of your process.

Strategy 5: Optimize Your Team

Building a team is like solving a puzzle — the pieces need to fit. Ensure the right resources are in the right roles, and cover key roles proactively. You can’t treat essential roles like an afterthought.

Remember, not everyone can play every position. A star developer doesn’t automatically make a top-notch architect. Sometimes, it might be beneficial to consider flexible resource options to ensure you have the right expertise when you need it.

Wrapping Up

In the tech world, speed matters. But remember, the goal isn’t just to be fast — it’s to be effective and efficient. You’re trying to build a product that users will love without breaking the bank while doing so. Knowing your velocity, creating an actionable roadmap, aligning your team, maintaining a consistent process, and optimizing your team are the tools you need to accelerate your innovation efforts without skidding off the track. If you need help navigating these strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ve helped dozens of teams boost their productivity and can do the same for you.


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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