Maximize Learning Through Short Iterations

Alfred Maeso Aztarain

Alfred Maeso Aztarain

Maximize Learning Through Short Iterations
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Now that we are immersed in the organizational tsunami that is agility, I think it’s worthwhile, from time to time, to do the exercise of extracting ourselves from our daily work and getting back to the basics to ask, “Why are we doing what we’re doing?” When I try to define what Agile is for me, I always come to the same conclusion: all this is about reducing learning cycles. It is about learning fast, maximizing learning, and minimizing effort. For this, the iterative development approach of agile is, I believe, one of the essences of the entire model.

Iterative development is based on the gradual construction of a solution, starting from a very high-level vision until converging on the final necessary detail. Through short cycles in which an initial hypothesis is considered, the solution is developed based on that hypothesis and is revised through conversation to define the hypotheses for the next iteration.

I think it’s worth noting that we should not confuse the concept of “iterative development” with “the division of work into iterations or sprints that consist of two to four weeks”. Iterative development requires collaborative work with a lot of interaction between all parties (especially between business and technology) and is essential to bringing both worlds closer together.

An Example

PMI® Guide to Business Analysis Infographic

I would like to illustrate the concept with a concrete example: the creation of our infographic about the PMI® Guide to Business Analysis.

I worked with our graphic designer for a month to create the final product. In that period, we made different iterative cycles before converging on the final infographic. I want to present those six iterations.

The first two iterations served to narrow the scope, at a very high level of what should appear in the infographic and to propose different design options. At this point it was important to understand not only what content should be offered, but how we intended people to use infographic.

We concluded that it should:

  • Offer different levels of reading and understanding.
  • Be an aid to understand the global vision (high level) but also to prepare for certification (detailed information).
  • Be very visual and allow understanding without help or additional explanation.
Iteration 1
Iteration 2

In iteration 3, we opted for a base graphic of the product life cycle as the guiding thread to explain the Business Analysis function. We didn’t enter content details into our work at this point, only a visual structure. This approach allowed us to use the space around the cycle to incorporate additional information, beyond processes (external and internal influences, areas of knowledge and the role of the business analyst).

Iteration 3

From this sketch, the designer worked on an initial prototype (iteration 4). This simple structure allowed us to learn that, although the product life cycle approach did seem to work, we also need to incorporate an element to show the relationships between the knowledge areas.

Iteration 4

From there, we went through multiple revisions, with each version going deeper into structure and content until we came to an infographic that satisfied us all (iteration 5).

Iteration 5

All that remained was to work on the aesthetic aspects, refine details, and put a stamp on the final version available for download.

Iteration 6

I hope you found this interesting!

Gracias,

— Alfred

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About the Author

Alfred Maeso Aztarain

Alfred Maeso Aztarain

Alfred, Netmind Lead Expert in Business Analysis, Change Management, Portfolio, Program and Project Management, has over 15 years’ experience in leading IT projects and IT services for different organizations and public administration. Alfred's focus of interest and expertise is on Business Analysis and Program and Project Management. He holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineering and is certified as a MSP, MoP and ITIL Approved Trainer. He works to inspire change in organizations and believes that knowledge and continuous learning are the pillars of change. Alfred is passionately dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge with the people he collaborates with. His certifications include CBAP, SAFe® 4 Certified Program Consultant, AgileBA Practitioner, Change Management Instructor, PRINCE2 Agile Instructor, CSM Certified Scrum Master, PMI-PBA®, and PMP® Project Management Professional. Connect with Alfred on LinkedIn.

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