A Tale of Two Hedgehogs

Over Christmas I introduced the Hedgehog strategy for Agile Transformations. Unlike the fox who is very clever, the Hedgehog does one thing well. The Hedgehog strategy I suggested was to “Reduce Lead Time”. This is a great strategy for an IT Director or CIO. It is not a very good strategy (on its own) for an organisation. In particular it is not a good strategy for the business or product leadership. An organisation needs two Hedgehogs, one for delivery, and one for product.


The Product Hedgehog strategy is very simple…

Insist that every investment delivers value by increasing a business value metric.

Why is this so important? The answer is because of what happens when you do not. When you do not insist on improving a metric, the team will do the easiest thing which is to agree a list of functionality to deliver instead. This leads to all sorts of naughtiness. Some common symptoms of failing to focus on value are below:

  1. The team focus on delivering functionality rather than something of value to the customer.
  2. Teams build what they can build easily rather than build what the customer needs or wants.
  3. An executive with no detailed knowledge of the investment will decide on the functionality of a product after being presented the “options” by the team.
  4. No consideration of the customer’s needs. Although everyone will talk about customers, they will have no empathy or understanding of the customer and their needs.
  5. A rapid turnover of User Experience Researchers. It is obvious when you do not use a designer, but UX Researchers are easy to dismiss. UX Researchers are highly sought after and will move if you do not value them and use them.
  6. Executive steering committees are spent discussing functionality rather than metrics and value (mainly because the team have no metrics and can demonstrate no value… other than in the “Business Case”).
  7. User Testing always results in success as teams value “being right” over learning about the customer.
  8. No interest in establishing a baseline for the business value metrics.
  9. Large Waterfall Style releases of “value” as teams see no value in releasing small increments to learn from customers.
  10. Success of the product is based on the opinion of the Executive Steering Committee rather than based on facts and data.
  11. No investment ever fails. No one is ever sacked for the failure of the investment… which is the whole point of not using metrics in a risk averse culture.

Do you recognize any of these symptoms on your “Agile” project? Or perhaps you have other examples that I you could leave in the comments.

So do your organisation a favour and unleash the Hedgehogs of Success:

  1. Reduce Lead Time.
  2. Deliver Value (as evidenced by Business Value Metrics).

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

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