Related Concepts to Agile Planning
Agile Wayfinding and the PMDAD cycle borrow on many concepts and processes from a wide array of disciplines and domains. The following list of concepts provides some background on some of these sources and offers links to online articles that can provide more information. The essence of agility is to be adaptive. Agile rejects the idea of the “one-size-fits-all” world, and I encourage you to modify the process I describe to fit the needs of your culture and context. These source materials will provide you some additional raw material for your journey.
Jobs-to-be-done is a theory from innovation that describes how someone will use a new solution to accomplish a “job.” For example, students attend college not for the classes or degree, but for the job that college solves. That job might be developing skills for a career, learning about certain topics, developing their sense of self, or for the status of being a college graduate. These two resources provide much greater detail on this idea:
The Model-Decide-Act decision-making cycle is based on military strategist John Boyd’s OODA loop. I changed the “orient” step to “model” for two reasons. First, in wayfinding, “orient” is a related but different concept. Using “model” reduces confusion. Second, the idea of a “mental model” is important in Senge’s work on learning organizations and in psychology. When we make meaning of what we observe, we are creating a mental model of the world. For more information on Boyd’s work, this is a great article:
One application of the idea of a “model” is a “logic model.” The “logic model” is a concept in program evaluation. The logic model provides a description of how a program works, what inputs are required, and what the outcomes are. Models may take many forms, and “logic models” represent only one form. The “logic model” can be a useful way to organize and communicate the model stage of MDA. For a more detailed explanation, this is a useful resource:
The concept of a design sprint from Google Ventures was one of the influences for the PMDAD process. The traditional design sprint is a 5-day process. Few of us can lock ourselves away for five whole days, so the PMDAD process is designed to be implemented over time in smaller time blocks. If you are interested in learning about design sprints, this resource provides an outline of the process:
User Story and Use Case
A “User Story” and a “Use Case” are similar concepts. Process purists will spend expand a great deal of energy discussing the difference. The article below covers the highlights. Being agile often means moving fast and not getting bogged down in semantics. The key concept is that we need to think about who our user is and how they will use the solution we are crafting. The most important idea is being user-focused in what we do. This ties back to the idea of what is the user’s “job-to-be-done.” Both concepts come out of software development, and user story is the more recent concept, tied to agile software development. Use what works for your work.
Time boxing is a concept that comes from agile scrum software development. It is also useful as a personal productivity and time management tool. The key idea in both contexts is that rather than being driven to finish tasks, you drive to finish what you can do in the time allocated for the task. This may mean that somethings do not get done. No worries. You can allocate another time box later to add additional features or revisions, if doing so would create more value than other uses of your time. Time boxing forces projects to focus on what can be delivered within the time available, and when we are being agile, we want more loops through the OMDA cycle to increase learning speed. These resources provide more details on time boxing:
After Action Review (AAR) provides the bridge from Act in one cycle of PMDAD to the Model phase in the next cycle. During AAR, we will look at both went well and why and what did not go well and why. The risk is that if we only ask “why” once, we can stay at a superficial level. The “Five Why” process leads us to dive deep into rout causes. While AAR has its roots in military operations, the Five Whys process comes from the Japanese quality movement and is a tool in the Toyota Production System. Essentially, we ask why five times. Why did something go well? Why did that happen? Why did that happen? And so on. To maximize the learning from the AAR, we want to uncover these root causes. It does not always take asking why five times, but this is a useful target to stretch our thinking and awareness. This resource provides more details:
The idea of a pivot comes from the world of entrepreneurship and start-ups. The idea of the lean start-up provides one of the influences behind agile wayfinding and PMDAD. The idea of the lean start-up was a reaction to the original dot com bubble burst in 2000. Rather than a start-up requiring substantial investments only to fail after burning through the cash, the lean start-up focuses on establishing a business model that works then scaling. The concept of a pivot is when experience shows what is being done is not working. The first resource below provides an overview of the lean startup method and the second resource provides a description of different types of pivots. In the PMDAD process, sometimes when we ask if we have reached our Destination, we may identify the need to pivot by learning from what we have done and changing direction. Alternatively, we may determine we have reached our destination and it is time to celebrate, or we may need to do some minor tweaks to what we are doing to make it better or even just expand it by doing more.