Early Continuous Delivery of Value

This is the first week of my experiment to try and live each of the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto. It’s day one of the first week, principle #1:

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

So what does that actually mean? Right now I don’t have any plans to go out and write valuable software every day. That could change, but it looks like this may take some rethinking on my part. So how can I live by this principle in a meaningful way? There are a few questions that arose for me as I considered this principle. First, who is the customer? In my case there are many possible candidates for the customer:

  • My Family
  • My Team
  • The Folks Who Read My Blog (both of you)
  • My Friends

That’s actually not such a bad list. The big question is what do they really value? If I intend to deliver value for these folks early and often, then I better figure out what they want. As I pondered that thought I realized that I was going to have to ask a lot of questions. So, with more than a little trepidation I spent my day asking the question, “How can I add value for you?” As you’ll see, results were mixed:

  • My wife: “Don’t ever wake me up to ask that question again. And put on a pot of coffee.” Done and done! This is going to be easier than I thought!
  • My kids: “What’s value? You mean like candy? And TV? Can I have an American Girl doll?” No, no, no. This is not going well. I’ll write you a nice story kid.
  • The folks who read my blog: So what represents value in this blog? I presume it has something to do with the writing. Maybe I can do more of that?
  • My team: Oh boy…I’ve got a lot more questions to ask
  • My friends: “You add value when you buy the beer.” OK, point taken.

You know, this sort of inquiry could easily lead you to the conclusion that most customers have no idea what value is. It seems as though this is going to require some of my own vision of what providing value is. Otherwise I will end up chasing my own tail in short order. Maybe I just need to focus?

All of this running around asking people questions seems to lead to a very external sort of mindset. I spent much of my day concerned with what was valuable to others rather than what was valuable to me. It was a curious sort of re-orientation that took place. Of course it is just day one. The good news: so far no one has asked me to deliver software. But the next challenge is perhaps more daunting, “How do I deliver value early and continuously to my customers” Identifying the value is only the first step. Now I have to figure out how to deliver value – a LOT of value. Fast.

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