Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Agile: Strategy or Methodology

Before LinkedIn was launched, the start-up team had a prototype which they were working towards. In line with this week's topic which discusses generic factors that frame executive decision making, we would take a look at Reid Hoffman's strategy when LinkedIn was launched.

Prior to the launch, the LinkedIn team were working on actualizing five (5) features before the product launch. Reid Hoffman was quoted as saying "If you are not ashamed of your product when you launch it, you launched too late.” In line with this, LinkedIn was launched with just three of the proposed five features it planned to launch. Today, those initially "un-launched" features haven't hurt and LinkedIn is a very successful company.

After the initial launch, the founders of LinkedIn went back and kept on iterating on the product and getting consumer feedback. This brings to mind the Agile methodology. How can we explicitly classify Agile? Is it simply a methodology or is it more than. My take on this is that Agile can be broadly classified as a strategy which closely matches with the Lean strategy for entrepreneurship.

According to Ries, in his book, "The Lean Start up", 
"His premise is that we start with a testable hypothesis – where your idea is possible and can be built, and customers will want what you build – and then test it with the least effort possible. This least effort product, known as the Minimum Viable Product (or MVP), validates the hypothesis using the least amount of resources you can. The goal is to quickly verify that people are interested in what you plan to create, before you sink your time, energy and money in creating it. The MVP isn’t perfect, in fact, Ries likes to say that if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product then you’ve waited too long." [1]
However, in our bid to adapt an Agile strategy, how do we balance the tendency of wanting to develop a viable and ready product without much customer feedback and following the strategy of just launching what you have in a good-enough-state?

[1] Hoffstein, Brian. "The Exponential Rise of Lean Business - Forbes." Information for the World's Business Leaders - Forbes, 5 July 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <>. 

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