Like most people, you've probably heard of lean manufacturing, but have you heard of agile manufacturing? And do you know how you can implement the principles of the concept in your day to day life?
The concept came out of the software industry, due to a need to ensure that new products were not being released after they had already become obsolete due to the blistering pace of technological advancement. In addition, companies learnt that it was more effective to shape a product to the tastes and usage patterns of the target market than to try forcing it down their throats via aggressive advertising.
In essence, the concept dictates that companies adopt an adaptive planning outlook, with a focus on short-term implementation.
Of course, it doesn't do away with long-term roadmaps, but they have to be in general terms and very flexible to be able to adapt to inevitable disruptions that will take place in the industry.
Basically, instead of being a bloated corporation that takes months to conduct surveys and focus groups; running feasibility study upon study before making any change, you ought to be like a startup that disrupts an industry by constantly adapting to meet the consumers where they need change the most.
Mozilla and Tesla are very good examples of this, and here are three ways you can implement the principles they run by in your life and business decisions.
Three-Point Plan to Efficient Project Management
1. Set Deadlines for Planning - Ideas are a dime a dozen, and you probably have one (or two, or ten) great idea that has been stuck in your mind for a few months or years. You think it's going to be great, but you want to make sure you work all the kinks out before starting.
No. It doesn't work like that.
You won't ever make the idea perfect, and if you wait too long, you'll see it out there with someone else's name on it. You'll see the flaws you had in mind, but you'll also watch as they get built upon into a solid business or organization.
Instead, set a deadline by which you are going to begin implementing, no matter what's still unclear. This would be similar to Mozilla's six-week update schedule, at which they'll send out the updates they had successfully implemented in that time frame, rather than waiting for years to get everything right.
Having a deadline will make you focus on the brainstorming or consultations you have to do, and you'll see that when time's up, you'll have clarified your idea much more than if you had just worked on it without any pressure.
2. Prioritize Feedback - Of course, you have a picture in your mind of what your product or program should look like, but you must be willing to prioritize the wishes of your target market over yours if you want to get them to buy into it en-masse.
Ask for feedback from everyone you can, and follow-up consistently to make sure that you hear their thoughts on what could be better.
In the early stages, there's bound to be quite some negative commentary. Instead of letting it get discourage you, take notes of every single complaint and implement the ones that form trends.
The key here is to understand that while you might disagree with a particular thing, you won't be patronizing yourself. In a world of short patience limits and shorter attention spans, rigidity is the quickest way to obsolescence.
3. Review Regularly - Set a specific day and time at which you (and your team, if you have one) will evaluate the progress you've made and set the targets and course of action for the next period.
These evaluations are the core of an agile mindset, and how you handle them will mean the difference between a half-finished project that goes nowhere and an exciting, rapidly-evolving one.
Ensure that you cover all the data you need to make informed decisions, but don't get bogged down in the minutiae or long-term projections. Your readiness to adapt will help you deal with any new factors that come up.
In implementing the agile doctrine, consistency is key, as is an objective mind. With those two attributes, you'll be able to keep up with your industry and get ahead of any major changes, maintaining relevance while companies that act like slow-moving behemoths become a thing of the past.
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