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Delivering Faster Is a Good Start, But Not Enough

While many organizations turn to Scrum to “deliver faster,” once they start delivering to customers and measuring the results, they discover that the real benefit of Scrum is getting feedback sooner to drive faster improvement. In fact, if faster delivery alone could solve the problems that organizations face in meeting customer needs, a traditional approach with many very small releases would suffice.

The problem is that, to paraphrase John Wanamaker, more than half of our ideas deliver no value; we just don’t know which half.1 To improve your ability to deliver value, you have to not only improve the speed at which you deliver value, but also measure what you deliver to determine its value, and you must use that feedback to improve the value you deliver in the next release.

Studies have shown that 65 percent of features are rarely or never used (see Figure 4-1).2 In a similar vein, a 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review stated that “the vast majority of [new ideas] fail in experiments, and even experts often misjudge which ones will pay off. At Google and Bing, only about 10% to 20% of experiments generate positive results. At Microsoft as a whole, one-third prove effective, one-third have neutral results, and one-third have negative results.”3

Figure 4-1

Figure 4-1 Most features are rarely or never used

Value is easy to understand when measured in terms of revenue, income, and direct costs, but not all value is monetary in nature. Market share growth rate, diversity of the customer base, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and employee turnover rate are also important measures of value. Likewise, ease of use and ease of product adoption can be important measures that inform product improvements.

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