(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)
So for the next few weeks, once a week, I’m going to be looking at the Twelve Agile Principles of Software, the Principles behind the Manifesto, and what they mean for creative works. Though twelve of them sounds pretty hefty, it’s worth examining each They’re dense, pithy pieces of advice that really help you be Agile – adaptable and productive – and are worth studying.
The first Agile Principle states the goal of having all of these principles:
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Now as a creative you might not be delivering software. So let’s tweak this one a bit:
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable creative works.
There, that’s your goal. Make your customer happy by giving them stuff they value regularly. It’s a simple sentence, but you can spend a long time taking it apart and learning Agile lessons. In fact, that’s just what I’m going to do – because there’s a lot of lessons in here.
Your Goal Is To Deliver Something Valuable.
Your focus as a creative (or anyone doing something really) is to deliver something that brings value to someone. All other means and methods are just tools to do this. Anything that doesn’t do this or gets in the way should be dropped, minimized, or addressed. Anything that helps meet this goal should be considered.
Remember, whatever you deliver when at all possible should be usable, but that doesn’t mean perfect. It may not be complete, like a first chapter. It may have revisions coming, like a logo. But make it usable.
These kinds of deliverables are important as:
- They allow the customer to evaluate the work and give you feedback. Remember, even if your work is perfect, the customer may find they made some mistakes and need revisions.
- This feedback lets you quickly deliver improved work.
- It keeps up constant customer contact.
EXERCISE: Pick a creative kind of work you do – writing, art, etc. What are different ways you can deliver part of that work that still have value for a customer?
You Do It Continuously
Delivery should be something you do continuously and possibly even regularly on specific schedules. This continuous delivery means that you’re also getting feedback as continuously you deliver work. Or you should be at any rate.
Delivering work continuously can be challenging, especially if you’re used to thinking in complete projects. This means that you’ll need to figure out ways to break down work, deliver features incrementally, and find ways to get something to the customer. How you work now isn’t as important as finding a way to work so the customer gets value.
I find this to be very healthy for creatives (and anyone) as it keeps you from getting into static habits about work. Something that shakes you up and makes you think about how to deliver helps you find new ways to do work.
You Do This For a Customer
Your target audience (even if it’s you) has something they value. You make sure they get it in your work – they’re the reason you’re here.
- You should communicate with them so you know what they want – what’s valuable.
- You should talk to them regularly (with continuous delivery) to navigate towards what they need.
EXERCISE: Take a creative work you create. How can you break it down in ways that still give a customer value? For instance art can have various drafts, a book can come in chapter by chapter, etc.
This is your Highest Priority
No other tool, method, etc. is more important than actually getting the customer results they want and need. Now this may mean you have to help them find results. This might mean helping them understand that legal issues like trademark searches are something they want. But this is your highest priority, and all other methods and work centers around this.
EXERCISE: Write down five things you can do right now to focus on the priotiyt of delivering value in your given creative field?
The First Principle Is Important
Yeah, I know that’s one sentence and it becomes paragraphs. The Manifesto and Principles are pretty precisely written, so they pack a lot in. A lot like good Agile.
So let’s review:
- You Deliver something valuable.
- You deliver value continuously
- This is done for a customer who you communicate with.
- This delivery is the highest priority.
Got it? Good. We got 11 more principles to go, and there’s a lot to learn.