There is a lot of conversation about the value of agile process and iterative design on the wire these days. Over the years, we have seen how difficult it can be to trust software developments agile process and its key tenant, iteration. It’s still fairly unfamiliar to many of our clients looking for a big idea for digital transformation or the next big app idea. While many of our clients speak agile many of them don’t understand its fundamental value. Because, culturally, we aren’t trained to see the value of a process.
We’re trained to value the big, shiny, complete, blockbuster releases on opening weekend.
The idea of an agile release can strike fear in the most forward-thinking leadership. Imagine seeing the latest Marvel film with all the “features” in its early “iterative” form – still as animated sketches, or with green screens still visible, or paying full length feature price for what turns out to be a conceptual short story – 20 minutes of bang. Many companies trying to develop a product are afraid this is what agile releases will do to their big ideas. We all believe in our big, blockbuster software ideas. But we only believe people will love them in the final, full-feature 3hr epic event – surrounded by all the fun, enthusiasm and months of viral marketing and PR events.
But this belief is just a myth. There is a lot of work that happens years in advance to build up to the big release. And the vast majority of it happens sequentially and behind the scenes. Films are a great metaphor for this. And the latest Marvel proves it. Marvel’s “Avengers – Infinity War” was a brilliant culmination of 10 YEARS worth of fine storytelling, or if you will, iterations.
Beginning in 2008 with Iron Man, each “release” was a well planned epic and seen as an individual blockbuster. 18 films in 10 years, each with an individual sense of finality, while tipping us into the next big release. All leading toward the one grand product release – the Avengers Franchise of films. THIS was the big product idea. But no one pitched the public the big product idea. The Marvel Studios were clever and brave enough to create their big idea into individual epics so we could accept and understand the master product idea.
Imagine if “Infinity War” had been held from the public until its final full-featured 50HR film released into to theaters. (3hrs x 18 movies) Behind the scenes, there are a number of studios, investors and theatres backing that financing for a decade of unproven market validation. A revolving door of technology and tools changing over that 10-year period — and the difficulty of maintaining consistency. Or the continuity of all the writers, editors, directors and actors turning over – all with varying product visions and ideas. It’s fair to say this would have followed the path of many software startups and digital transformations that sink many companies before their big summer blockbuster idea ever gets off the ground.
The truth is we DO see the value of iteration every day. We just aren’t trained to see the fun, excitement and value in the process. But,
your process is the single most important factor in determining your outcomes.
The next time you embark upon an idea for digital transformation or have a big blockbuster app idea – be diligent about the process first. Plan your story arc, build a roadmap and break it into epics – make each and every individual release is so cool and valuable people will want it by itself. All while planning the sequel and secretly planting the teasers and easter eggs that thread together your master story arc.
….Iteration. Infinity. And beyond.
- Agile iteration does not mean putting “animated sketches” live. It’s about releasing fully functional features in a planned sequence
- Agile does not mean everything now; quality software takes time to build regardless of the methodology you use. Agile iteration get the first features to market early.
- Agile, and the process iterations, enables you to make sure there is box office demand before investing in sequels.
Accomplice specializes in creating consumer experiences for today’s brands – from digital to physical spaces. Visit our website to learn more about the Accomplice team.