How development teams work in the Economy of Speed

Jun 14, 2016 / by Hannele Kuitunen


Economy of speed, digitalization and focus on customers are the driving forces in today’s business. They are discussed in board meetings and shown up in company visions and strategies. They have also attributed new roles such as Head of Customer Experience and Chief Digital Officer.

Successful businesses deliver better customer value faster than other companies; that is why they thrive in the economy of speed. In the hectic new world there is a need for fast learning, productivity, prioritizing, prompt decision-making and action.

When you ask the teams – who develop and deliver products and services to customers – how this shows and feels, you get a kind of funny laugh and eye rolling. Not everything they do works as expected, forcing them to do it again differently.

Sometimes the teams forget to share information or take shortcuts in processes, which causes problems later on. In some days you wouldn’t believe that soon your product will be ready and that customers actually like it.

Learn to protect your work time

Whether you call it agile, ad hoc or storming, we have been working in small bursts for several years now. Some people have several on-going projects simultaneously on top of their other, unrelated duties.

Personally I like working in the agile way. I love to-do lists and get kicks from moving tasks from the “to-do” column to “in progress” and “done” columns in the agile board. Work organized into smaller tasks is generally easier to estimate and manage.

Unfortunately, our thinking time is interrupted frequently due to chat applications, emails, phones or calendar reminders. Also general noise in an open office environment can be disturbing. Some productivity experts advice that email should be checked only once or twice a day, which isn’t always an option if important information or work related interaction takes place through it. Email is still a reality for many of us.

Humans are not built to multitask, which is why it is important to learn to protect your time and focus on one thing at a time. Being in a hurry and the lack of perseverance in expert work can backfire due to bad decisions. It can be more productive to do things right in the first place than trying to sub-optimize and risk in leaving something out, such as documentation.

Economy of Speed brings teams and customer closer

One of the biggest change brought by economy of speed is that the customer is always close. Development teams talk about customer’s requirements and wishes every day, and lean their decisions on them. Customer’s reaction to demos or pilots matter a lot and positive feedback can create an unbelievable motivational burst that carries a long way.

Economy of speed has forced team members to co-operate more closely. We have noticed that things progress better and problems get solved faster this way. We do amazing new things together that we could not have done alone. At the same time, while working together and developing better products in short iterations, we learn from each other in so many ways. If all goes well, we don’t repeat the same mistakes again in new projects.

We learn to tolerate different kinds of people and different opinions. In fact, the best results often come when people bring different views into discussions, even if we don’t always agree with them. We also learn new technologies, tools and productivity hacks.

All in all, economy of speed brings new challenges and opportunities to companies and to individuals. We just have to accept that change and fast pace are the new status quo, and focus on doing the right things while automating the routine work. And first and foremost we have to support each other to succeed in the new environment.

Topics: Agile, Software Development

Hannele Kuitunen

Written by Hannele Kuitunen