In this episode, we reach the fourth and final value statement.  There is a larger value in responding to change than following a plan.  Planning is essential but reacting is even better.  Thus, we have another value of the Agile Manifesto that compares two things in a “1 A” and “1 B” prioritization.  However, these two concepts work together to provide us an effective way to navigate project challenges.

…Through this work we have come to value:…

Responding to change over following a plan

Make A Solid Plan

Planning has many benefits.  While we may not enjoy the process, few argue that it is a waste of time.  I like to view it as a form of practice for the event or function we plan.  When we plan, we run through steps in our mind and write down (i.e., plan) or capture how we want to approach each one.  Planning can involve many resources.  However, it boils down to a design process.  We look at a step or event and then plan out what we need to accomplish it.  A solid plan tells us what to do.  This pre-work on the applicable tasks helps us to iron out challenges and improve our odds of success.

Change Happens

All of that work on a plan may be limited in value when things change.  We could even say that time was wasted.  On the other hand, let’s focus on what we did when we created a plan.  It is a design process.  Thus, we consider the task, approaches to completing it, and then choose the best approach.  That means we have at least thought about alternate paths and resources.  When change happens, those alternatives help us.  We already have some options we have considered that can be used in responding to change.  It has been referred to as “go to plan B.”

That secondary plan does not need to be documented.  We already have some mental work that has been done along those lines.  That is a head start on getting the task completed in a different context.  We have already spent time to find a solution in a world where some or all of that change exists.  We are more nimble when we have experience in a situation.  That is true even when the experience is only a mental exercise.

Know Your Destination

A plan is a map to take us from where we are to a specific destination.  The change that occurs during that journey may alter the goal.  Nevertheless, we have a rough idea (the plan) of how to make the journey.  Therefore, we can adjust to change in incremental ways by adjusting milestones and our path in small ways.  This approach is far more reliable and accurate than resorting to large adjustments that are almost as bad as a shot in the dark.

The Twelve Principles and Overall Manifesto

Challenge of The Week: How do you handle responding to change?

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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