What drives the desire to achieve big?
Despite this, many businesses and organisations want to achieve “big” – or are coping with it already. The economics make sense – large operations can be efficient and effective.
The real challenge lies in getting there from small, or changing something which is already big and may resist change. In both cases, there is an unmissable opportunity to act small.
How do we implement this magic mix? While every piece of work in digital and data transformation has unique circumstances, at ENGINE we always apply the scientific method. We develop robust hypotheses that target the big picture and impact we want, then use real-world testing of small iterations to check their accuracy.
We use three catalysts in every case, all of which are underpinned by a culture of acting small:
We’ve found that transformation is best when each element is used at the same scale to explore the change that’s needed and reactions to change as they happen. Here’s how:
Culture eats Agile for breakfast
If we don’t engage hearts and minds with our vision, change is something going on “over there” – especially among “everyone else”.
To prevent a big transformation becoming prone to death by “a thousand small rejections”, you need a human-scale sense of engagement. We do this by collaborating with stakeholders.
Collaboration – we’re all smarter than any one of us
“Why can’t everyone just work together?” people frequently ask. Many views and many voices can make it hard to agree. This gets worse when people are given vague aims for collaboration – or feel they’re expected to agree too quickly on big issues.
Despite what we hope, early collaboration is a negotiation. You must build consensus from a small base. We ask, “what’s the smallest change we can agree to make to prove (or disprove) the value of this direction of travel?”
Turning small wins on consensus into real progress through iterative change
How can small iterations lead to big transformations?
Agile development techniques have become the method of choice for most digital implementations. Agile can attract an offputting evangelical fervour among practitioners. Team members talk of Sprints, Story Points and Velocity. These are not really the beating heart of Agile – central is iteration.
Engaging with Agile and the Power of Small is a great way to engage an organisation before they are asked to buy into a big change or its benefits, then deliver things in small but complete packages of working “things” – features, services, prototypes.
This way, each change can be seen and understood at a glance – or at least more easily than a “big reveal” at the end.
Frequent feedback in small doses
How do we confirm we’re on track? With a big plan, this would be by checking progress against the plan and realigning to “the plan”.
Working small, we check our direction to improve and fine-tune our course. Why? Because we now know a lot more than we did when we started. We test our change or new feature with users, clients or stakeholders.
While some people may have extensive views, not everyone may be able to or want to say so much. So try to generate small, frequent feedback.