The future of your business depends on IT. You want to deliver innovative IT projects that put you ahead of game. But bugs, delays and feature shortfalls can leave you playing catch up. Don’t like the game? Here’s how to change it.
1. Be agile
Agile projects greatly accelerate time to market by reducing the delay between alpha and beta testing and delivering a viable product. Swap lengthy processes for smaller, faster scrum teams that run through sprint cycles to deliver smaller but functional feature improvements on a repeatable basis.
2. Accept the mistakes
You will hit a roadblock. In fact, you will likely hit several of them and often all at the same time. No project in history has found success without overcoming some problem along the way.
Take NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter – it crashed because two teams used different units of measurement. It happens. It was a very expensive error to make, but it didn’t stop NASA from launching future missions. Accept the mistake, learn from it and move on. Tap into NASA’s experience with this list of 100 rules for project managers.
3. Get the timing right
You have an idea for a game-changing IT project but the timing isn’t right just now. The important thing to do in this situation is to step back. Don’t press on with the project, despite how keen you are to start.
Take underground trains. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Doug Most explains that the first underground train opened in London in 1863. It used steam power, which was ‘filthy, sooty and smoky’. As such, the concept wasn’t brought into America ‘until electrification was perfected’ 30 years later. Sometimes, a little patience breeds a much cleaner, smarter outcome.
Similarly, you sometimes need to accept that what you’ve got now is more interesting than what you might build later. For example, Flickr started life as a tool for an online multiplayer game. Sometimes pivoting is smarter than persistence.
4. Avoid scope creep
The key to delivering a game-changing IT project is keeping within your initial scope. Of course, if you realise that what you’re trying to achieve is impossible then a scope change is necessary. Scope creep – the tendency to add more requirements to a project as it progresses – can be very damaging. You can use minimum viable products to test demand and feasibility.
5. Be bold
When it comes to true visionaries of today, the first that comes to mind is Elon Musk. He has achieved an incredible amount of innovation from PayPal to landing a rocket on a boat.
In this TED Talk, he discusses his electric car and SpaceX ventures, but towards the 19-minute mark (though we recommend watching the full video) he gets into his ‘framework of thinking’ that is vital for anyone who wants to change the game.
The winner takes it all
The real competitors in business are the ones who look for ways to beat the game they’re playing. It won’t be easy, and it sure won’t happen overnight, but when you win it’s definitely worth the effort. So don’t just play along; be a game-changer.