Investment Thinking vs. Cost Thinking

I have a new column up on projectmanagement.com, 3 Questions to Ask Before Estimating an Agile Program. Often, management wants an estimate for the program. I suggest that before a program manager ask the teams to estimate, she learn the answers to these questions from management:

  • How much would you like to invest in time, money, or learning before we stop?
  • Are you ready to watch the program grow as we build it so you can stop us when you don’t want to invest anymore?
  • What is the value of this project or program to you?

One of the commenters said that getting answers to that first question is “like getting blood from a stone.”

In serial approaches, with only one deliverable at the end, we need to provide cost information to management. How else can they manage the risks of not finishing the work?

However, the more you deliver—at least internally—the more you can ask questions about investment.

Too often, we think in terms of “how much” can the teams do. Instead, when we focus on investment, we can think “how little” and think about who received value from which features and when.

Hope you enjoy the article.

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