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Lean Enterprise by Jez Humble, Barry O'Reilly, Joanne Molesky

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Chapter 9. Take an Experimental Approach to Product Development

The difficulty in defining quality is to translate future needs of the user into measurable characteristics, so that a product can be designed and turned out to give satisfaction at a price the user will pay.

Walter Shewhart

Up to now, we have spent the whole of Part III showing how to improve the speed at which we can deliver value to customers. In this chapter, we switch focus to discuss alignment—how to use the capability we have developed to make sure we are building the right things for customers, users, and our organization.

In Chapter 7, we showed how to use the Cost of Delay to prioritize work. In an organization where IT is essentially a service provider, this is an effective way to avoid working on low-value tasks that consume precious time and resources. However, in high-performance organizations, projects and requirements are not tossed over the wall to IT to build. Rather, engineers, designers, testers, operations staff, and product managers work in partnership on creating high-value outcomes for customers, users, and the organization as a whole. Furthermore, these decisions—made locally by teams—take into account the wider strategic goals of the organization.

In Chapter 6 we described the Improvement Kata, an iterative approach to process improvement in which we set target conditions for the next iteration and then let teams decide what work to do in order to achieve those target conditions. The key ...

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