Progress Iteratively

The ITIL 4 Guiding Principle that we are going to talk about today is “progress iteratively with feedback.”

As leaders and people working on projects, we are drawn to the allure of delivering a smash hit that everyone loves. We work hard to create a project plan that builds to a crescendo where we whip back the curtain, and everyone is speechless. I have often observed a mute group when someone makes a big reveal of their product or project results. But people generally aren’t struck dumb because the results were everything they wanted and more. Stakeholders are speechless because the result is so far from what would be helpful, and no one asked them for their opinion.

As you are delivering your project, start with a small step forward. Create a minimum viable product. Create something that people can get their hands on and use. Once they have something, they can use, learn from their feedback to make the next small leap forward. When you move iteratively, some good things will happen:

  1. The stakeholders will have something that they can benefit from right away. They will continue to be engaged with the project because they are anticipating the next good thing. 
  2. You will hear immediately from stakeholders about what is good and what needs improvement. 
  3. If you do deliver a piece that the stakeholders don’t like (and this will happen), you will only have wasted a small effort on the work. You can easily course-correct and learn from what the stakeholders are telling you. 

Take one step forward at a time. Get feedback from your stakeholders as you go. Create the project result together. The project team’s next move is the result of the customer’s direction and the team’s expertise. Both are necessary to create a good result.