INCEPTION OF AN AGILE INITIATIVE

Inception is really a misunderstood ceremony.

A MISUNDERSTOOD CEREMONY

Many people take exercises like Pre-inception or Inception workshops or even a project kick-start in SDLC setup as chores or occupational hazards and necessary evils. What they miss out to see is the real opportunity to set the tone straight for the project/initiatives success and to create something unique.

I understand the standard the drag and many times people have seen the process over and over and it adds to the process fatigue people carry on their day jobs. Many times the organisational politics is on the big display in the room. Stakeholders coming with their own agendas or perspectives which not necessarily matches the sponsor’s take the workshop on a detour and the real focus is lost.

We need to accept these challenges and be open for the possibilities of becoming something that we originally didn’t foresee. The original idea was just a thought, which is existing in the Utopian world of the visionary’s mind where none of the external factors and political influences exist. When the idea hits the real world it creates ripples and displacement and sometimes we don’t foresee the undercurrent that can move the needle ever so slightly that will change the course of the program. (Apologies for becoming philosophical but I have seen this happening many times myself).

Organizations have a huge process drag. No matter how smooth processes are, a new project can be considered as a new startup coming about and Project Managers / Product Owners or Scrum masters have to embrace the struggle same as a Start up founder. Certain things can be given like a set budget and resources (two biggest pain points for a Startup Founder) but it doesn’t mean rest of the challenges won’t make your life miserable.

One biggest challenge that a new project brings in a Corporate setup is stakeholder management and expectation setting. For startups that piece come in a slightly later state, as they challenges start with issue / conflicts resolution within the team first, but for Corporate projects, many times the sponsors & stakeholders might be having non linear thoughts or even conflicting goals. That makes life really tough for the Project manager.

Wouldn’t that be great if you can put all those guys in a box and seal the box for some time till they are comfortable with each other or at least reach to the level of maturity of agreeing to disagree than turn the minor difference of opinion as a blood feud. Now imagine your meeting room as that box and consider the Inception as that game that bring all on one page. Difference of opinion on execution may still be there but they all agreed or at least are in tune of the overall business objective.

Like any important meeting Inception need to be conducted with very focused things in mind.

DON’T LET THE IMAGINATION KILL THE INITIATIVE BEFORE IT STARTS

As the participants are coming with fresh mind (yes they got the hint in pre-inception about the agenda and what to expect, still details are sketchy), Inception always run with the danger to running off-track if the primary goal of what the original big idea of the initiative was. We are charting new territory with this initiative and trying to build something that is not being offered in the firm yet, which means there could be number of things people want to achieve. With expectations running wild, keeping the scope and overall focus is very important.

MVP: DON’T CONFUSE BUILDING TO LEARN WITH BUILDING TO EARN

With changing technology capabilities many times organisations when setting their eyes to new frontiers are driven by what technology has to offer. Simplest example is defining an MVP, but expectation of users is to use it as a stable production release. Yes MVP should be stable but expectations need to be set to the correct level on what features will be part of the MVP and how beneficial it would be to use it as a full blown Production system. Highlight the trade offs so people can have an educated decision for the usability of MVP on Production system for standard use.

There are many more aspects I want to cover under Inception as Inception is a small microcosm that brings the entire vision to the picture. Wait for my next entry about Inception where I will cover the Agenda, how to set it and what to keep in mind while navigating with the Agenda setting of Inception. Do Let me know what you feel about Inception exercise in your organisation or the Inception workshop that was run for your projects.

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