Think you need to wait for skills to kick start your programme? Think again.

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Waiting for perfect? The finely tuned team consisting of stellar talent with every skill set under the sun, perfectly poised to deliver on your meticulously defined transformational programme?

It’s a nice idea. But the reality is that perfect – more often than not – is the enemy of good. 

And the time you spend waiting for everything to fall into place is time that your competitors are putting to good use. Getting on with the job and winning the customers you haven’t even reached yet.

Plus, the longer you wait, the more out of date your initiative is likely to be. And, if you’re really taking your time, you might wake up to discover your budget has been pulled.

Sometimes, what you have is where you need to start.

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The false certainty trap

If agile practice teaches us anything, it’s that we very rarely (probably never) have all the information we need upfront. But humans like certainty. We like knowing we’ve got everything we need for whatever journey we’re about to undertake. We like knowing what to expect at each juncture, and, especially, how things are going to end.

In the context of a big programme, it can be easy to have a false sense of security. Just because you’ve got a masterplan doesn’t mean the navigation is going to be any smoother. Nor will having a team of 50 compared to a team of five cement your success.

Large-scale projects or new product lines involve big risk, big cost and offer less opportunity to change course. Break them down – into smaller, manageable chunks of value  – and your risk profile changes immediately. Your ability to course correct is immeasurably improved. And the pressure is more evenly distributed.

So while it can be tough to break away from the big-bang approach, it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t offer any guarantee that you’ll reach the outcome any faster. Or at all.

Trust the team

The value of a good team – and here we’re talking about motivation and engagement rather than cold hard skills – is that they figure stuff out and gain (or borrow) the skills they need as they go along. In pursuing a full set – DevOps, front-end, back-end, BA, UX, and on – you’re also underestimating the power of a capable team that understands their goal.

But it’s important to flag that trust isn’t the same as abdicating responsibility. Intelligent leadership knows that trust is about empowerment. Balancing the axis of autonomy and alignment, if you like. Providing just enough guardrails, just enough direction.

The bottom line is, it’s in the DNA of a good product delivery team to experiment, fail and learn. Specific skillsets can be worked around. Just let them get on and build in the way they know best.

Still waiting?

After all that, if you still reckon it’s a good strategy to wait for perfect, just reflect, once again, on the fact that your competitors won’t be.

When it comes to responding quickly to what your business and customers need, starting with what you’ve got is always going to be better than sitting around waiting for perfect to happen.

If you’d like to chat further about anything covered in this blog, just give us a shout.