Delivering the Least Scope

One common misconception of agile is that it simply allows you to get everything done faster. This is simply not true. Agile allows us to plan a much smaller scope of work, delivering iteratively and incrementally to deliver the least amount scope needed to solve the problem/capture the opportunity. The speed comes from only delivering what the customer needed. This is in contrast to how we used to scope a release when we delivered everything we thought they might want. 

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

Focus on being skeptical and delivering the minimal instead of trying to deliver everything in the release.

This is stakeholder debt. I define stakeholder debt as the difference between everything they scoped for the release subtract what the customer uses.

The only way we can do this is we relentlessly support the team to get to done in each review. You might not decide to release yet, but you could if you wanted to. Currently, you likely have a lot of overhead in getting a release out which makes it more expensive to release. Hence, you try to put as much in a release to justify the overhead. Invest in reducing this cost.

What can a leader do to support this?

Continuously remove/minimize organizational legacy processes. Chances are they have not been challenged or updated in years.

Invest in dev ops, tooling, and automation.

Ask what you can do to help them make done possibly. As a leader, when was the last time you asked what you could do/invest in doing their job better.

The purpose of modern product delivery is to go from vision, to value, to validation in the shortest time possible. This allows us to sense and respond to our understanding of customer and user behaviours. We need to prioritize metrics for learning. We need to make learning a first-class citizen.

How can you support this as a leader?

Create learning metrics, quantitative and qualitative.

Prioritize these metrics alongside financial.

Invest in innovation and research based on these.

Build enough, not everything. Challenge yourself to build the minimal to either meet the goal or maximize learning.

Every keystroke is precious for a leader with Cerebral Palsy so I will end here. Below is my recent Vlog that touches on some of these.

Lead how you would like to be led!

Learning has to be a first class citizen (1 minute, 50 seconds)

A common misconception about agile is that you get everything done faster. The speed comes from delivering less. By delivering the most important thing early and stop when you met the goal. This allows you to shift from defending the scope to being continuously skeptical if you want to invest more as you already met the goal.

Leadership for the Knowledge Work Era

In working in today’s knowledge work economy, it surprises me that many leaders still use traditional ways of leading their people. Leaders still put most of the focus on the work to be done instead of focusing on the people to create an environment where great work can be done. 

My suspicion it has to do with legacy industries and businesses. They still see work as straightforward and the leader has the most experience to break down and explain the work so many people can execute on it to finish it.


In today's complex, rapidly changing landscape the team you build better be supported to rapidly learn and have an environment that fosters continual validated learning if they have any hope to survive. The team needs to be more knowledgeable than the leader in this new era. This is the complete reverse from the industrial era where managers were the most knowledgable. Furthermore, leaders need to continually foster and grow their people. Customers and technology are changing at an incredible speed. Not only in skill but more challenging opportunities. Don't worry about losing them, as they move on they serve as your ambassador and recruiter for their replacement.

Leaders that create a learning and courageous environment will have people with a variety of domain expertise greater than their own. Their job changes to inspiring people to go beyond their expectations and creating the safety and space for that learning to happen.

Having Cerebral Palsy I had to learn to give up control to move forward. Accepting to not having to know more than your team is giving up control.

In everything complex, it is all about balance. Focus on your people, but keep an eye on the objectives to ensure you are headed in the right direction.

Things you can do as a Leader:

Move from focusing on the work to focusing on growing the people to do great work.

Move from giving the solution to asking open questions to unleash possible solutions.

Move from having to know everything before allowing the team to move forward to setting guardrails to allow teams to innovate ahead of you know all the details to learn.

Lead how you would like to be led!

Typing is very challenging for me. In an attempt to share more I’m starting a Vlog of quick videos on #Leadership — Here is my first one on focusing on #Growth. Hope you enjoy. (2 mins)