Getting better

“Nothing works better than just improving your product”

Joel Spolsky

Staying relevant is a challenge

Technology is evolving faster and faster. This is placing demands on individuals and organisations to get better at learning how to adapt to a dynamic “environment”. The challenge for us all is remaining relevant when everything around us is undergoing change.

An example of an entity that epitomises adaptation to a dynamic environment is startups. A startup company is an entrepreneurial venture that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product or service. Startups emerge because of gaps. As society and technology and business change, gaps appear between what people need or want, and what existing organisations provide.

Startups provide some clues how to manage change

The success of startups is founded on 4 principles.

  1. Identify unmet needs of customers and set out to meet them (this becomes our goal) then;
  2. Hypothesise solutions that could meet those needs, and turn that into a plan
  3. Develop those solutions into products
  4. Observe the results to see if we have met the need

They then repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until the gap between what people need and what is being provided has been closed. The world and what people need is constantly evolving so this cycle never stops.

The improvement cycle takes us from here to better

This 4 step process is a called the improvement cycle and is a formula for staying relevant. Software development itself has largely moved from a pipeline model of development to a cyclical model. “Agile Development” is an iterative and incremental software development methodology that shares the basic shape of the improvement cycle. Both the general improvement cycle and the Agile development cycle recognise that change is inevitable, and iteration is the best way of responding to this. No matter where we start, as long as we continue to repeat this process we will improve our relevancy.

One Key Performance Indicator to rule them all

An accurate measure of being true to our best work is our sense of pride. The happiness that comes from achievement is a compass that tells us that WHAT we are doing is important and HOW are doing it is effective. (Pride can also have a negative association of excessive high self-regard but that is not the meaning of pride we are referring to here).

The perspective of strategy tells us how we will achieve our purpose, whilst the perspective of pride tells us we actually are delivering on that. We will know that we are each achieving what we are called to achieve when we each feel a sense of pride in how we working, and what we are creating.