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Storms of Neglect The Perils of Not Delivering Usable Products in Agile Iterations

August 3, 2023

In light of the importance professional teams place on delivering usable, working products, I find myself compelled to address the woes that befall teams that need to adhere to this crucial tenet. We understand the need for working products; now, let us dissect the perils of straying from this righteous path.

Storms of Neglect


Neglecting to deliver a usable product at the end of each iteration breeds an ecosystem of compounding issues. From eroding trust to technical debt and from sluggish adaptability to misaligned expectations, the outcomes go from bad to worse. Inspection and adaption should be our guide, helping us navigate towards professionalism and quality.

What happens when we ignore usable working product?

Erosion of Trust with Stakeholders: Imagine walking into a store to purchase a laptop, only to be handed the bits and pieces with a pat on the back for your ‘future’ computer. The retailer can’t fathom why your faith dwindles. Similarly, with each iteration bereft of a usable product, the trust vested in you by stakeholders wears thin. Like sand slipping through fingers, trust is painfully hard to regain once lost.

Tsunami of Technical Debt: With each iteration that lacks a tangible product, you’re essentially signing IOUs against your future. This accrues as Technical Debt – a mammoth wave looming on the horizon. The resources required to address this increase exponentially as the interest piles on. Continuing down this road with abandon results in nothing but pain and suffering for everyone involved.

Sluggish Adaptability – The Quicksand: In the ever-changing landscape of customer needs, adaptability is key. Delivering usable increments is akin to the agile footing on uncertain terrain. When teams neglect this, it is like walking in quicksand – the more they struggle without clear direction, the deeper they sink. The lethargy in adaptation will drag them down as the world moves on; without them.

Misaligned Expectations – A Compass Gone Haywire: A usable product at the end of iterations acts as the compass, keeping stakeholders and the team aligned. Without this neither you nor your stakeholders have any transparency of what is going on and where we have arrived. The stakeholders expected one thing but got another, and the chasm between them widens with every iteration that the expectations are not validated.  We often get so far apart that we can’t see how we bridge that gap!

Decreased Morale – The Fading Flame: Morale is the lifeblood of creativity and productivity. Delivering a working product is the kindling that keeps this fire alive in the team. Being able to see how the stakeholders use the product, are engaged by what we are creating, and care about the outcomes are the foundation of team morale. If we can’t see the stakeholders care about what we are creating, Im not sure why we would care…

Feedback Drought – direction-lessness: How do we know that we are heading in the right direction without feedback. When we encounter an obstacle and have to go around, how to we reorientate on the direction to go? Our usable working product is like our compass, allowing us to orienteer as effectively as we can towards our destination.  Without it, you’re navigating blind, guessing the direction based on our assumptions.

Usable working product, every iteration, including the first, is the bedrock upon which we build the pillars of trust, alignment, adaptability, and quality. It is the very foundation of inspection and adaptation. Without it, we have no transparency, inspection, or adaptation!

Without it, we are not agile.

NKDAgility can help!

These are the kinds of issues that lean-agile practitioners love and most folks hate, and if you need help getting a usable increment every iteration, including the first, my team at NKDAgility can help you or help you find a consultant, coach, or trainer who can.

If you have issues that are undermining the effectiveness of your value delivery, it's especially important to find help as soon as you can and not wait!

Which you can do right now. You can request a free consultation with my team or sign up for one of our upcoming professional Scrum classes. Because you don't just need agility, you need Naked Agility.

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