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Predictable project or innovative project?

by Joe Little, 23 May 2013 | The Agile Blogosphere

This post is from LeanAgileTraining by Joe Little. Click here to see the original post in full.

Mike Cottmeyer spoke at Agile Carolinas last night. And said many good and useful things.

One thing he talked about is this:

What kind of project do you have?  At one extreme, do you have a project that is pure innovation?  Or, at the other extreme, do you have a project that it completely ‘predictable’, and the main problem is good professional execution?

By ‘innovative’ we mean that the project or effort starts off with barely a vision, and we discover ‘what we want to be when we grow up’.  Barely a vision, and only a minimal, inadequate sketch of the scope.  And we innovatively get a bucket of money to go discover some business value in that general area.

Predictable means that the managers feel, at least, that the scope and the business value are pretty well defined. They feel, at least, ‘this is clearly what I want you to do….just do it.’  Usually at a fairly high level, but in their minds, it is a known, predictable thing.  Nothing close to ‘pure R&D.’

Now, in practice, if you constrain a poet into sonnet format, give him a scope or domain of love and summer time, still, to him, he has realms and realms of room for creativity.  In fact, if you only said ‘write a poem’, he would be far less creative. But let is avoid for the moment the contradictions of creativity, beauty and innovation.


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