Managing partner Andy Poulter explains why 'develop by doing' can help organisations find solutions more quickly.
There’s a lot to be said for detailed, thoughtful planning if you’re building a new power station, but few projects require that level of rigour!
We see too many businesses over-planning projects – too much detail and too far into the future , beyond what we can possibly know. We’ve seen project teams regularly re-planning their detailed Gantt charts, which consumes resources and doesn’t get us any closer to solving the underlying issue.
April believes in developing by doing. It means developing a prototype you can test with customers and other stakeholders as quickly and cost effectively as possible, testing it to get their feedback and iterating the solution as we learn.
This way the solution meets the original need, and we have more certainty around the benefits being realised. And these days, testing can be fast and relatively simple using online tools and often completed in-house.
It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to do.
Corporate governance isn’t always aligned to this agile way of working, and project teams are often told to deliver the solution, rather than being given the freedom to solve the underlying issue.
What it means in practice is that project teams need to plan for the cycle of develop-test-learn-iterate in their business cases, and the organisation needs to approach it with a growth mindset – approaching every failure (and there will be some!) with the mindset of ‘what can we learn?’ not ‘whose fault is it?’.
For example, with one of our retail customers who wanted to upgrade their chilled food proposition we took over one of their London stores, brought in and unwrapped products from other retailers and brought customers in to get their feedback on potential range options – helping our client focus on what to develop, before commencing the NPD process.
Developing by doing means getting to a prototype as quickly and cheaply as you can, getting feedback from your customer, and iterating the solution with them to deliver something of real value.
Read more about April's principles on our website's how page.