Our Customers Don’t Care if We Are Agile

This quote by Steve Jobs, “It Just Works,” sums up the long winning streak that Apple had from when Jobs came back to Apple until he unfortunately passed away.  During that time Steve and teams delivered innovation after innovation and continued with wins like OS X and iOS from a digital media standpoint, not to mention some underrated killer work like Aperture and Final Cut.  But do you know what I never heard?  What methodology Apple uses.  I also never heard how many people are on each of their teams.  And I never heard about their team agreements.  Matter-of-fact, all I know is that when I get a product, it just worked; it did what I needed it to do, and if there were bugs they got fixed.

Oh and sorry about the seemingly harsh headline – my wife warns me about my propensity for the dramatic but alas, here we are. Then again, maybe this is what we need to start focusing on what matters. For the past several years we have seen a movement where how a product or service is accomplished the creation/cultivation/delivery mattered for than the quality of the product itself. We care about organic, non-GMO, antibiotic-free. We care about fair-trade or sustainable farming. We even care about intelligently sourced materials. And these are important. But you know what no one screams about? Whether we use waterfall or agile practices to deliver digital products. Why is that? Because, in the end, our digital products are different that food, cars, and coffee and our users want high quality products delivered regularly with updates that work.

Why do I bring this up? Because, unfortunately, Agile has stopped being a word that heralds speed, quality, and innovation, and has become some buzz word that is used for garnering more clients or additional funding from investors. We have watched as more and more folks have created an industry where agility is not a mindset but is a sales pitch. Consultants are “versed in agile methodologies” and yet do not want to partner with their clients to make the hard decisions and find the real problems. And, because in the end, our users want high quality products delivered regularly with updates that work.

Usually in the third paragraph of a blog like this, there is a call to “return to the principles of the original manifesto,” but I would say that this is overplayed. It is time for us to move forward and focus on what our customers and our clients’ customers want – good products with great features faster. If that means we use different methods and we address different problems using different tools, then so be it. Whatever it means, the ultimate goal is not agility, it is valuable products. And why is this (repeat after me): because in the end, our users want high quality products delivered regularly with updates that work.

One thought on “Our Customers Don’t Care if We Are Agile

  1. Hi Josh,

    Great post. I don’t think the title was too harsh at all. We could use a some straight forward reality in our lives. I think you hit a great point with this post. It can be difficult for clients to get on board with the different of Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Delivery Team. They may not always understand that we’re in a specific “Sprint”. They just want a product that gets the job done and makes their lives easier.


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