APPLYING A DISCOVERY MINDSET: UNLOCKING CREATIVTY IN AN AGILE BUSINESS
- November 7, 2022
- Posted by: mealone
- Category: Uncategorized
APPLYING A DISCOVERY MINDSET: UNLOCKING CREATIVITY IN AN AGILE BUSINESS
The discoverers of the new worlds ventured to explore space because we wanted to know what lay beyond. The European and Asian explorers of the earlier centuries, among others, discovered uncharted regions on earth before space travel. Discovering the unknown and managing risks required a discovery attitude. Each Portuguese mission went further than the previous. This mindset allowed lessons to return to Portugal. Cartographers updated maps with new information from explorers about the landscape, sea hazards, tides, local flora and fauna, and sailing lanes. Space explorers shared experiences. For the first time, humans broke through the earth’s atmosphere but did not reach the moon.
Each rocket launch tested the technology’s ability to go further into space. During earth and space exploration, innovations allowed for the next step. A discovery mindset acknowledges uncertainty and uses a variety of thinking approaches to learning more incrementally. The discovery mindset requires curiosity and innovation. A discovery mindset is not haphazard but systematic, leading to an informed journey.
A discovery mindset involves:
- Learning as we go.
- Focusing on what we do not know.
- Using different thinking approaches to gain customer value-oriented knowledge.
A discovery mindset avoids certainty and upfront/big-batch approaches. Instead, it focuses on learning what we can, improving our learning incrementally, and updating our knowledge bases as we go.
Business Mindset for Business
From a commercial standpoint, the discovery mentality means you are not spending money on false assurance but learning the best direction for the businesses. You change your course when you realize you are down the wrong path.
Applying this mindset has four distinct advantages:
- It helps you adapt to customer value and product success.
- Since we only know so much initially, we learn to discover and apply what is valuable to the customer as we proceed. This approach will necessitate the application of Customer Value Discovery.
- It is easier for people to commit to a short-term experiment than a long-term, often unknown future during a transformation (since discovery involves working in increments).
- It promotes an empirical and disciplined work approach.
The Agile culture emphasizes discovery. Practising the discovery approach reinforces this culture in the organization and its teams. We discussed, in earlier articles, the importance of fostering an Agile culture. It is essential that all roles and functions in your businesses should incorporate the Agile and discovery mindset.
Discovery attitude and thinking techniques open a world of discoveries in the organization. It also encourages team members to pursue new findings without fear of making mistakes. The discovery approach complements developing the right culture and values that enable success in a changing environment. The discovery mentality encompasses how people might use to understand what the customer values carefully. Both promote the development of healthy behaviours. While the right culture helps you better serve the customers, the discovery mindset helps you continually discover what the customer considers valuable, enabling the business to understand its starting point and focal areas.
Imagine starting your Agile transformation with a discovery mindset and thinking approaches. Leading with a mindset focus sets the tone for people’s behaviours. It avoids the misconception that Agile means mechanically applying processes or practices. Instead, agile should first focus on developing the right mindset, culture, behaviours and values. Only then can the application of techniques and methods be of any effect.
A mechanical Agile implementation ignores its cultural components. Since Agile is a cultural change, start your Agile transformation with a discovery mindset. The discovery mindset, thought patterns, and Agile values and principles condition the mind, so processes and practices are applied with the right behaviours. What are some discovery-minded thinking approaches? Incremental, experimental, divergent, convergent, feedback, and design thinking. These concepts used together help to achieve the best results. For instance, design thinking applies elements of incremental and divergent thinking. Experimental thinking incorporates both incremental and feedback modes of thought. All of them are discovery-minded.
Thinking in smaller pieces and shorter timeframes is incremental thinking. It is riskier to make big bets with limited understanding, and much less risky to take smaller bets and course-correct for the next increment. This approach reduces risk and prevents mistaken long-term investments.
In Agile, it is essential to differentiate between iteration and increment. Some people confuse these two concepts because they are often used interchangeably. A team builds something in iterations. In Scrum, a sprint gives a team 1-4 weeks to produce a deliverable. The deliverables of an iteration are called increments. An increment should produce a working software or product if aligned with Agile values and principles. In incremental thinking, the goal is to move away from big-batch delivery and think in smaller batches, aligning with the Agile focus of “delivering a product that works in shorter regular time-frames, often spanning a couple of weeks to a few months. Emphasis should be on achievement within the shorter timeframe.
Incremental thinking helps learn what customers value. Incremental thinking allows us to shed pretend or arrogant certainty and explore customer needs. Instead of fixing customer needs up front, build increments of products that the customer can inspect and provide feedback on.
Experimental thinking is a systematic way to reach certainty. Instead of guessing, you hypothesize your next move. It aims to improve customer value identification. For example, you have the tiniest information or evidence of customer needs at the beginning of a project. Instead of guessing, you establish a hypothesis based on available information and the right direction for the following work increment. Next, you experiment and use measurable data and feedback loops (such as customer demos) to identify what you have learned. The results either confirm or reject the hypothesis, which informs your next steps. Then, the next incremental experiment is adapted based on what you discovered.
A discovery mindset helps you learn if a business or product idea has customer value. Each change should start with a hypothesis, whether new, changed or removed.
Feedback thinking is the notion that feedback gives essential information. Feedback may shatter assurance because it highlights gaps between what looks like customer value and what a consumer values. Input thinking involves obtaining consumer feedback and applying it to improve customer value. However, feedback thinking can be a hard transition for some firms that adopt a certainty attitude, don’t already collect and implement customer feedback, or don’t intuitively see the benefit it will give in producing products that the customers value.
Feedback thinking uses several feedback loops to confirm the path and course-correct toward customer value. The business should prioritize customer feedback. The customer’s voice shapes the product. Customer input should drive most choices and establish customer value direction. Feedback thinking provides real-time knowledge of what consumers value, which varies over time. Incremental and feedback thinking to develop customer value helps you discover what customers desire and detect market shifts. Real-time data (feedback) helps you react to a changing client landscape. The discovery mentality includes feedback thinking. Feedback complements incremental, experimental, divergent, convergent, and design thinking. Chapter 14 explains how to use feedback thinking and consumer feedback.
Design thinking gives teams room to evaluate problem-solving solutions. It empowers experts to solve problems. Iterative and verified consumer learning works for this kind of thinking. It blends aspects of incremental and divergent thinking in its approach. Design thinking starts with understanding the problem or opportunity through empathizing with the consumer. Observe consumers dealing with the situation or speak with people who may benefit from the opportunity to align with them. Then, based on your research, characterize the issue or opportunity.
Design thinking uses alternative perspectives to address problems. This thinking includes research and brainstorming. Then, collaboratively converge on a solution or opportunity from the top suggestions. Some Convergent approaches such as affinity and red-dot voting may help the team to select an option.
As you prototype the selected solution, use a hypothesis to confirm or deny it for increased assurance and consumer value. Then, iteratively and incrementally test the option to see if it increases customer value. The iterative framework is one of the Agile processes. Examine experiment results afterwards. Based on the results, continue with the original choice or adjust. This framework requires consumer input to ensure you are doing the right thing correctly. Design thinking helps employees and customers collaborate. As staff are engaged and empowered to produce customer value, consumers are brought in via feedback loops to validate if it satisfies needs.
SUMMARY: Creating a Discovery-Focused Leadership
The discovery mentality and thinking processes develop Agile behaviours to shift the culture toward agility. They help set the tone for customer-focused behaviour. Leading by creating the right mindset and culture prevents the assumption that a mechanical execution of the Agile methodology makes you agile. It is a better approach to acquire Agile behaviours that may help your company adopt an Agile culture and deliver customer value.
As you approach your Agile transformation or recognize you need an Agile mentality injection, try teaching leadership and teams how they can develop the discovery mindset. Consider including incremental, exploratory, divergent, convergent feedback, and design thinking early in your Agile transition.