If you want to innovate in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, you need to get to market as quickly as possible — or someone else will beat you to it. You don’t always have the luxury of checking off a 15-point list and hoping that you have something that works by the end of your development process.
This is especially true in the tech sector, where software can achieve success or failure in less time than it takes people to get tired of SXSW. More and more companies are turning away from linear development methods such as Waterfall and turning to the Agile and Scrum implementation methodologies to stay ahead of the game.
Scrum for Innovation
The Waterfall development method emphasizes a top-down approach, where all the requirements are gathered beforehand and the entire development process is mapped out before it begins. Only after a product is completed in full does the big reveal take place. What happens at that point if it’s a failure? Your company has lost a lot of money, and you’re now averse to taking risks, which is an innovation killer.
That just won’t work in today’s fast-paced marketplace. If you want to innovate, the Scrum framework — which works off the Agile methodology — is what you need so you can try new things, iterate faster, and kill off your fear of risk.
Scrum makes the assumption that software development is constantly changing and adapting to new requirements, unforeseen setbacks, and consumer feedback — which it is. Innovation is achieved by getting your products in front of your customers quickly, collecting their feedback, and responding.
This short feedback loop gives you a higher tolerance for risk. Getting smaller deliverables out to customers and receiving feedback at regular intervals can also help reduce the intimidation of working on a new product. This confidence leads to employees being more likely to take risks and accept constructive criticism that can improve the software as a whole.
Work in short bursts, put something out there, and collect feedback as you go. You’ll keep improving, and you won’t be afraid to try cutting-edge ideas in this type of cycle. When you’re the one trying new things and getting users on board, you won’t be playing catch-up in your field — you’ll be leading the pack.
Enter the Rat Race to Win
But if you want to win the race, you have to enter. This could be the only hiccup; it can be difficult to get people to change. In fact, up to 70 percent of all change initiatives fail — a number that has remained fairly consistent for decades.
If people have always done things the Waterfall way, transitioning to Scrum might be painful for some. After all, if someone has a year to work on a project, the psychology of procrastination will probably have set in. But there’s no room for procrastination in Scrum. You’re always working at optimal productivity levels by churning out a better product every three weeks.
The result is a system that provides important market feedback from your users and stakeholders that you can use to make your product a better fit for your customers — and a better product than anything else on the market.
This is why startups and established companies alike are increasingly turning to Scrum over traditional linear methodologies. The competition will continue to be fierce, and technology will continue to advance at a rapid pace, but companies that have a Scrum framework in place won’t have to worry about being left in the dust.
Kevin Castle is partner and CTO of Technossus, a technology consulting firm in Orange County, California. For the past four years, Technossus has experienced more than 100 percent year-over-year growth; the company enjoys relationships with customers such as Disney, SpaceX, PetSmart, GE Healthcare Worldwide, Abbott, and VIZIO.