Dynamic Steering and Sprinting
Remember the oil tanker dynamic? Operating in a command and control structure means turning the ship around can take 5-10 years. This approach gives teams the impossible job of predicting the future and leads to lots of pressure to “pick the right thing and build it once” – not very forgiving of mistakes!
Dynamic steering is the process of continuously moving towards a purpose, but accounting for environmental changes along the way. In order to steer dynamically, we need to empower others and continuously test and learn. Instead of an oil tanker, we need to act more like a fleet of skiffs, all moving in the same general direction, but able to tack and jibe as the context changes. We can’t predict the future, but we can adapt with it.
In order to steer dynamically, we need to create processes that allow us to break large chunks of work into smaller sections. This way, at the end of each sprint, we can look at what we’ve created, compare it to the market, and adjust the subsequent work based on this feedback.
To bring this to life, we break work down into chunks that we call ‘weekly sprints.’ When we steer dynamically, we’re never done creating but it is important to ‘ship’ (or share) progress with the rest of the team on a regular basis. Don’t get bogged down by long timelines and large projects. Focus on what needs to get done this week and share our work with the entire team at the end.
The rhythm feels like this:
- Monday Action Meeting: capture and prioritize tasks to be accomplished within the week
- Accountability & Collaboration: make sure that each person has something to do, and knows what their responsibilities
- Friday ‘Ship’: each team member delivers on their progress on tasks by Friday (at the latest)
- Iterate: Make changes to the work based on any feedback. Incorporate into Monday Planning
Breaking work into sprints allows to ensure people are working on the right things over the right period of time. It helps to prioritize tasks, eliminate feelings of being overwhelmed, and keeps project timelines flexible for the "expected unexpected.”
This approach is what makes Rapid Experimentation and Continuous Iteration possible.
By embedding regular rhythms of delivery and iteration into our organizational DNA, we create a bias for progress over perfection. Nothing is ever finished, there’s simply a new version to test and learn from.
Maintain the weekly rhythm no matter what!
Pro-tip: Sprinting means we’re often shipping works-in-progress. We must become comfortable with sharing and seeing work that’s still in development. It enables teams to incorporate feedback early and often, making the final product that much better.