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.
About a third of the employees of a regional bank have returned to working onsite, and the president holds a weekly all-staff town hall meeting by videoconference. Employees are encouraged to submit anonymous questions for him or other senior leaders to answer. For the past six weeks, an increasing number of people have asked, “How do we know if the people who are still working from home are actually working?” Some employees have even suggested specific technology-based monitoring approaches to track remote workers’ onscreen time and activities.
What do a human rights negotiation in Afghanistan, a crisis negotiation in Calgary, and a business dispute between a Brazilian and a Frenchman have in common? At first blush, nothing. However, when we dig deeper into these high-stakes negotiations, there is a common thread that connects them all. The concept of face.