Applying Agile, Lean and Scrum Methodology

I recently wrote in this blog about the current digital transformation in the museum industry, and emphasized the need for any organization attempting to thrive in the digital world to create a holistic digital strategy.

However, not all industry experts agree that strategy is that important.

Michael Edson, Web and New Media Strategist at the Smithsonian Institution, says that strategy is overrated.

In a SlideShare presentation entitled “Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast: Digital Strategy in a Changing World”, Edson lists ten reasons why:

In his opinion, strategy is over-glamorized, it is too inward-looking, it is too slow, it is too static, it overlooks crucial activities, it is incomplete, it has the wrong audience, it is dishonest, it fails to inspire, and, most importantly, strategy almost never succeeds.

In his presentation, Edson quotes Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electrics: “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.”

The main issue here is that the implementation of the strategy “almost never succeeds”.

Why is that?

And more importantly, what, if anything, is there for the organization to do in order to not fail in the implementation phase?

Edson suggests that the common issue here is the methodology is flawed. As a potential solution for this problem, Edson strongly recommends implementing agile methodology.

In “The Agile Manifesto”, the main points of agile methodology are listed as follows:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • responding to change over following a plan

For Edson, this ideology of strategy implementation translates to “Think big, start small, move fast”.

In this context, Edson also recommends applying the lean startup model.

The lean startup model is based on the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop. This model is useful in developing a so-called minimum viable product, just to set in motion the feedback loop and the process of learning. What Edson recommends here, is to attempt to create an open, iterative workflow in the organization.

This, in his opinion, is a key factor in creating a healthy balance between “planning” and “doing”.

Ok, so your organization is now implementing the strategy via agile methodology and the lean startup model. But how to measure success?

In his presentation, Edson quotes Jim Collins, and concludes, that “What matters is not finding the perfect indicator, but settling upon a consistent and intelligent method of assessing your output results”.

I couldn’t agree more on this one.

What I would add to Edson’s suggestions is applying scrum workflow.

That would translate into having a sprint planning session, preferably applying daily scrum methods, and having sprint review and sprint retrospective events in the digital project development team as well as on the organization level.

I am very curious to see if the Museum Industry will find these methods useful in achieving strategic goals in the near future.

Author: Iiris Konttinen

I am a digital service design and digital marketing professional based in Helsinki, Finland.