Iterate, Validate, Calibrate, Commit, Repeat.

"No methodology can guarantee success. But a good methodology can provide a feedback loop for continuous improvement and learning." - Ash Maurya

Ideating Apropos - Part 1

Throughout our careers we have been in many roles in many projects, programs and initiatives.  These have been governed and executed using a range of processes and methodologies from Software Development Life Cycles (SDLC) such as Waterfall, Agile in its variants though most commonly Scrum & Kanban; Product, Program and Project Management methods and techniques (PLDC); Lean Manufacturing, Development and Start-Up and User-Centered and Design Thinking processes.  Sometimes these have been diligently adhered too, while others were the wild west.  

Continuum Education has adapted three methodologies to build and operationalize our Apropos product.  When stakeholders ask what developing a tool like this entails we typically describe it in the following groups; Lean Business, User Centered Design and Agile.  We assume that the horizon for our planning in the product process is about six months and we will make decisions at the last responsible moment, taking in as many inputs and variables up to the point a decision needs to be committed.  Iterate, Validate, Calibrate, Commit, Repeat.

Lean is used to iterate over the aspects of the business model and the Apropos’ differentiation.  In this case the business model and the customer engagement model is the product.  The product cannot survive in a vacuum without considering the problem/solution fit, product/market fit, how customers engage, competitive differentiation and how customer segments must be engaged to delight them to achieve scale.  

User-centered design as we have implemented it consists of user research and engagement of subject matter experts (SMEs), educators and learners.  At the macro-level we test concepts with our focus groups, stakeholders and advisors and at the micro level with adopters and users of the toolset. 

When developing our software we have adopted Agile, specifically scrum for managing the iterations of our software developing a set of user stories that offer the engineering team the flexibility and opportunity to be creative in their approach to developing our features and functionality.   Continuous Integration and deployment were put in place early on so our team could view their changes in the context of the larger system and not only at the unit level.  Promoting code is automated and never manually executed.  This gives the team confidence that what has been tested is what is being promoted.

We are going to create a series of posts that describe the steps we have gone through up to this point and will use this forum as an opportunity to talk about what we are doing, what works and when something doesn’t and what we will change to improve, iteratively.