Why over Way!

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Why over Way!

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I often see something that I re-post on my blog. Something that I think is thoughtful, compelling, and useful in our agile journeys.  

Some folks influence me more than others. John Cutler is one of those. Here’s one of John’s posts that I just had to share with you. I like it that much…

I continue to encounter agile coaches / transformation coaches who position the Why of “digital transformation” as “agility” or “learning faster” or “a mindset shift”. When I ask what the burning business need is for agility, outcome-centricity, product thinking, learning faster, or a mindset shift, they often don’t know. When I ask about the existential threats to the business, they don’t know, or they respond with something very high level like “innovation”.

I ask more questions…”will the business exist in ten years if the status quo remains?” … “what is the biggest product fail of the last year?” … “where would learning faster and experimentation have helped?” Not sure. “Would you invest in company stock? Why? Why not?” Not sure. “If things were working, what would you observe?” “Well, more empowered teams”. Why? Not sure.

To me, this is putting the Way before the Why. The goal isn’t product transformation. The goal is what product transformation will enable!

You have to know the business reality. For example…

“At the moment our commercial business accounts for 60% of revenue, and consumer business accounts for 40%. We’re paying more and more to keep that 40%, and despite our efforts, we’re losing to upstart fintech companies that know that demographic better, and aren’t saddled down by the weight of a commercial business. If we can’t figure this out, we’ll continue to lose market share, and our share price will plummet. Meanwhile, the commercial side of the business is rife with opportunities to use data science to streamline operations and eek out margin. Supply chain disruption will eventually get us there as policies come up. The three major efforts from last year fell flat with no outcomes. We need to do better in a highly complex environment…”

“And this is how product thinking can help….[here]”

You have to know this stuff like the back of your hand. Listen to every investor call. Know the existential threats to the business. You have to think like a business person and an entrepreneur. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself just going through the motions.

The goal isn’t agility. It is what agility enables. Same with product thinking, DevOps, rate of learning. Etc. Why over Way.

I hope found it valuable. Stay agile my friends,


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