POSTED : July 5, 2016
BY : Sridhar Peddisetty

A police officer found a perfect hiding place for watching speeding motorists. One day, the officer was amazed when everyone was under the speed limit, so he investigated and found the problem. A 10-year-old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand-painted sign which said: “Radar Trap Ahead.” A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy’s accomplice: another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading “TIPS” and a bucket at his feet full of change.

All problems are opportunities in disguise. Having said that, not all problems are well understood and therefore not all right opportunities are identified to act upon. One of the main incentives seen of Agile adoption across organizations is in identifying & acting upon the opportunities in a disruptive & fast-changing new world.

Below are a few tips in identifying the right opportunities to act upon and successfully delivering the results using the Agile philosophy:

Define clear problem statement(s) mapped with customer(s)

Define clearly problem statement(s) mapped with customer(s) and what matters to them the most. This can be accomplished by engaging, observing and working closely with your key customers in identifying the opportunities with their changing demands. It seems very obvious, but if the upfront effort is not put into defining customer needs and they are not aligned with the key problem statements, which need to be solved, there will be an immense waste of time, effort and organizational resources.

For defining goals iterate enough to identify milestones

While identifying the problem statements, it’s important to clearly define the criteria for success. Plan to break down the success into a journey and not necessarily a destination. This should be achieved by identifying the milestones and iterating through the milestones in achieving the goals. In my earlier post Be Too Agile To Be Governed By Fear Of Change, I shared how Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Design org. strategy for maximizing learning to manage risks

Design your organization strategy in identifying and defining internal processes, tools & technologies, which creates an environment that maximizes learning to manage risks. It’s important to anticipate changes, which may affect achieving your goals but with the right environment, problems can be converted into opportunities. Encourage experimenting, then reinforce and build on what works. Enlist and inspire your organization around a compelling purpose and grant project team(s) the autonomy and resources to continuously adapt and adjust course.

Start small, think big & scale fast

It’s important to focus on developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for early validation of the product. Formulate the philosophy of starting small, thinking big and scaling fast. In my earlier post Minimum Marketable Features: An Agile Essential, I shared how product innovation is tied to change and often the need for change appears midstream in a project, so decomposing the requirements into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF) is key for the successful execution of solutions for the right opportunities.

If you have to fail, fail fast

In the fast-paced changing trends, ideas for product innovation needs constant nourishing. For the success of pursuing the right opportunities, it’s important to generate alternatives and make fast, fact-based decisions about which to pursue. So if you have to fail, fail fast. Iterate to build new capabilities shed what doesn’t fit and take the first steps in a new direction as needed. In my earlier post, Every (failed) project has a ‘success’ story to tell, I shared how it’s important to identify & share the ‘success’ value of a project even if it failed to meet its main strategic goals.


In the past, organizations very diligently use to spend quality time in formulating a strategy and then sticking with it through the thick & thin. Today we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in which we are talking about Cyber-Physical systems and in these interesting times, organizations rapidly surge ahead, rapidly fall behind, or even rapidly disappear. So in these interesting times for an organization to survive, it needs to continuously evolve, change and stay a step ahead of its competition. And for that survival, organizations need to be in an advantageous position of identifying the right opportunities to act upon.

Share your thoughts in the comments section on how you normally ensure identifying the right opportunities to act upon while practicing Agile.

Read more ruminations on the philosophy of being Agile.

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