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Sunday, September 13, 2015

4 Ways entrepreneurs optimize time

Agile thinking is similar to playing chess!

Thinking agile is a bit like playing chess.  Many moves are possible, but planning several moves ahead and considering possible counter moves is essential to beating advanced players.  The same is true in fighting a battle.  The opponent is working to achieve a victory.  It takes advanced planning and consideration of potential responses to win in addition to agile reactions since the enemy never reacts as expected.

Even simple events may benefit from agile thinking.  Taking a trip to visit a relative is likely done by taking the same route used numerous times in the past.  What happens if there is an accident and the normal route is blocked?  Learning of the accident in advance allows for selection of alternate routes.  Filling the car with gas before the trip may save you from running out if the unexpected happens and you become trapped in traffic and unable to move for a few hours.  Perhaps you threw a few bottles of water and snacks in the car just in case.  You are more likely to weather the bad event with less pain and suffering by a little advanced planning.

Events can sometimes be predicted and sometimes they are unexpected.  Agile thinking is the ability to find the best route(s) to success, or “pivot” when meeting an unexpected event.  Agile thinking encourages seeking a goal by exploring more than one path and not by being stuck repeating the things over and over simply because it worked the first 9 times.  Consider that it may not work the 10th. 

As stated in Think Agile, “Man plans and God laughs.”  Entrepreneurs plan extensively but not all entrepreneurs achieve their ultimate goals.  Agile thinking can increase the chances of success by identifying roadblocks and alternatives in advance.  The art of Agile Thinking is a skill that can be learned.  The ability to consider, evaluate, and make plans rapidly is part of the process.  It also includes some of the following characteristics:

  • Trusting the people working with you
  • Relying on other peoples’ skills and knowledge in the areas where you may be lacking
  • Short working cycles to deliver a minimally viable product
  • Inspect and adapt your plans constantly
  • Fail Fast and Fail Often so you can learn what doesn't work and then move towards what will.

Agility is a factor that can be a great asset to entrepreneurs. Developing agility requires some willingness to explore and take risks. Not high risks, but risks in trying something different and unfamiliar. It is with an agile approach that new paths and greater successes may evolve more readily. The following are steps that may help you start to develop your agility in running a startup.

1.     Study & Learn – Any route to a goal or destination likely has multiple paths. Sometimes, interim steps are adjustable or have alternate paths. Only by understanding the objectives and routes can one identify the best alternate paths. 

2.     Plan – It is always essential to plan, otherwise, you never know where you will end up. Planning helps cement concepts and identify at least one possible route to the end. Making alternate plans is where you began to develop some skills that may make you more agile. Alternatives and preparation help build the needed confidence to make a shift in direction when needed.

3.     Experiment – Skill and knowledge is helpful, but occasionally experimenting with alternatives can provide new insight and direction. Experimentation can be as simple as discussing ideas with the team or partners.  Their input may lead to better approaches and less risk. Experimentation will enhance your awareness of novel alternatives that may arise. Your goal must be to recognize new alternatives that increase your success and act quickly! The process of learning, planning, and experimentation will embolden you to make more agile adjustments in your activities.

4.     Adjust – It is usually not possible to pick the perfect direction or activity on first try. Monitoring and adjusting can often help improve a mediocre plan resulting in an improved performance and greater return on investments. Staying on a rigid path is ok in many cases, but learning to be agile in your thinking will allow you to move faster and smarter toward a greater success level.

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon