Experimentation is the New Planning, taken further...

This article in FastWeek, “Experimentation is the New Planning,” inspired me to write this.  Not only is experimentation the new planning, but it’s really the only way we can ever be sure we’re ever building the right thing.  

There is a strong legacy mindset to develop “the whole feature.”  I still see it even on mature agile teams.  We still think that if we spend some time refining it, understanding it, and detailing it, then it must be valuable to build it.  

What I’d like to see is more experimentation at the micro level: for every theme, feature, even every PBI.  Why assume we should take the time to build the whole thing just because it’s on the backlog?  Let’s instead break everything up into smaller pieces - the first of which is an experiment to prove that the whole feature is actually valuable.  

I think PO’s would love this approach.  Invest the minimal amount of time and money into designing an experiment, and then only once we’ve proven the feature is valuable, invest in building the whole thing out.  You can be reasonably assured to avoid the dreaded “60% of features are rarely or never used” statistic by employing this technique.  

Envision a feature -> Test for Value -> Build