Have We Taken Agile Too Far?

Agile is a highly effective tool for product development, especially software-driven offerings. But as companies expand its use into new areas (budgeting, talent management), agile is too often used an excuse to avoid careful planning and preparation. Instead of taking time for the careful thinking a breakthrough product requires, teams get locked into the process of two-weeks sprints, thinking in bite-sized chunks based on the resources that they already have. Amazon takes a different approach, which it calls “working backwards.” It requires a fully realized vision of a proposed product, embodied in a written press release and an FAQ that explains to colleagues, customers, and senior management how Amazon could create this wonderful offering at an affordable yet profitable price. Only when company executives were satisfied with these documents can teams start writing code and actually assembling the product.

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