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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May Startup Blog Insights - Entrepreneurs Get Agile! with Taffy Williams

Taffy Williams can be found on Twitter @twilli2861, ColonialTDC ,  photo  website, Google+ Facebook, and Startup  Group on Linkedin.  He writes the Startup Blog and articles for the Examiner: Charlotte, NC- small business. More on the agile concepts may be found in soon to be released book:  ThinkAgile

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Focus is important but so is agile thinking

You must learn when to take your "eyes off the ball"!

Entrepreneurs must learn to balance two skills and know when to use them; a) Focus and, b) Agile Thinking.  Focus is driven into entrepreneurs by investors and experienced managers.  The ability to be more agile in one’s thinking comes from practice. When the situation dictates, agile thinking should take the lead over focus. 

Examples of these two skills are found in discovery experimentation in a laboratory.  Scientists must conduct extensive literature to learn about the field they pursue.  They then develop a hypothesis that requires testing.  Proper experimental design forms the preparation leading to the testing and results that either confirm or refute the hypothesis.  A high degree of focus is used in the execution of the experimentation to ensure proper procedures and completeness of the tests.  However, the agile thinking comes into play during the learning phase and interpretation phase.

The learning phase is the time when a scientist may let their mind run wild.  The goal is developing a hypothesis that covers the total of all facts known to date.  Once the tests are complete, the interpretation of the results and any future experimental designs require agile thinking.  It is through this agile phase that new hypothesizes or amazing discoveries become apparent.

The same is true for business.  The art of preparing a business plan requires extensive learning about the sector and business.  The plan will contain a course of action requiring the entrepreneur to focus.  However, since the business landscape changes on a regular basis and things rarely go as planned, the entrepreneur must remain alert and use the agile thinking skills to make corrections and chart new courses.  Thinking agile also is important for the entrepreneur because they learn to monitor the surroundings and possibly evade road blocks.

It is important to keep ones “eye on the ball” so to speak!  But, observation and adjustments are sometimes needed depending on the situation.  Focus on the end goals ensures you know where you are going.  Being alert and using agile thinking may help you plan more than one path to achieve your objective.  Alternatively, the agile thinking may allow you to see superior opportunities and identify a means of capitalizing on them.

Focus and Thinking Agile are two skills that if used properly can work to your benefit.  Learning to use these two skills takes practice or you may become too diffuse in our efforts and fail to make real progress!  The ability to analyze any situation and identify the smartest path to success can help you go further and achieve the success you desire. 

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Agile thinking helps entrepreneurs achieve success

Choose your path wisely!

It is easy to stay locked in to a rigid way of thinking and in performance of activities. When traveling, you see a road and proceed down the path until you find an impediment or blockage.  Then what do you do?  This is where many entrepreneurs get stuck and have problems overcoming problems.  They create a plan and fail to consider alternatives or potential hazards.  Once faced with an impediment, they lose time while deciding how to react.  Alternatively, they may continue with the same old daily activities when a change may create a more dramatic shift in results.  Thinking Agile is critical to enhanced performance and eliminating impediments.

The word Agile suggests an ability to move quickly, easily, smarter and in a clever manner.  An entrepreneur recently asked me how Agile was different from The Pivot.  A Pivot is a subset of Agile in that one makes a quick change.  Agile thinking is involved in determining whether to pivot or not.  Agile thinking leads to use of all available information and advanced planning.  Agile thinking is important to recognizing a situation where a Pivot makes sense and may work.

Take a look at the photo.  The far off region appears to be in the same plane as the high nearby rocks.  If you were to completely survey the site, it would immediately become clear that the near rocks are on the edge of a cliff.  Moving in a straight line would be a severe hazard.  You can make a quick turn right or left and you will find the same problem of facing the edge of a cliff.  It is only after a complete examination of the total surroundings that backtracking to the rear provides the safest path home. Agile includes survey of surroundings and consideration of alternatives.

The art of Agile Thinking is a skill that can be learned.  The ability to consider and 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.

The article “4 Actions toward becoming an agile entrepreneur” provides other actions that are helpful to becoming more agile.  Learning to become more agile in your thinking will help in identifying novel alternatives and strategies that may increase your chances of success.  Agile thinking is important to new and experienced entrepreneurs especially in a startup!

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