Technology is quickly changing in today’s digital age and speed, agility, and collaboration are key in developing innovative solutions. The “waterfall method,” which is a sequential and linear process going from step to step without any feedback, is no longer the best way to create new value. Rather an agile software approach leads to successful results and allows technical teams to scale fast and quickly adapt to change.
We have seen this approach to be the most effective in the context of a dynamic development environment that is necessary for innovation to thrive. For example, in our recent work with Herman Miller, Twisthink quickly assessed many existing and emerging wireless technologies, then implemented a Bluetooth based mesh technology for their first enterprise-ready system of connected furnishings. The number of connected devices and the volume of data required many iterative development cycles to perfect. We employed multiple early prototypes to validate design assumptions and performance estimates.
The continuous feedback loop offers many benefits to the development cycle that helps guide the product innovation process:
With this agile method, the stakeholders play a large role in shaping the trajectory of the final product. Whether its aesthetics, usability, or clarification of requirements, the “voice of the customer” is present at each stage, guiding and structuring the development.
At the conclusion of each phase, a snapshot of the evolving product and feature set can be exercised and evaluated. This fosters early feedback and allows room for adjustments while the product is still maturing. Addressing issues early is always cheaper and less disruptive than to do so later on.
Most of our projects at Twisthink involve applying an existing technology to a new domain. When doing so, there are often unknown or unexpected behaviors that are difficult to predict or implement. By creating early prototypes and deploying them into their intended operating domain, these challenges can be uncovered early with enough time to address them without excessive disruption to the software or architecture.
Few projects have the luxury of early, well-defined, and unchanging requirements. By constructing the product incrementally, requirement changes typically have less of an impact. A key here is to evolve a flexible software architecture from the beginning that accommodates later changes with as little disruption as possible.
We believe this agile development process focused on continuous improvement, flexibility, input from key stakeholders, and adaptability to change is the best approach for product innovation.