One of the seven principles behind the Disciplined Agile (DA) framework is Delight Customers. For a value stream to succeed the delight of your customers must be your key priority. In 2001 the writers of the Agile Manifesto told us that “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software” – this is a good start, but disciplined agilists prefer the lean philosophy that to succeed it isn’t sufficient to simply satisfy the customer but instead we must regularly delight them if we wish to keep them as a customer.
We delight our customers when our products and services not only fulfill their needs and expectations but surpass them. Consider the last time you checked into a hotel. If you’re lucky there was no line, your room was available, and there was nothing wrong with it when you got there. You were likely satisfied with the service but that’s about it. Now imagine that you were greeted by name by the concierge when you arrived, that your favorite snack was waiting for you in the room, and that you received a complimentary upgrade to a room with a magnificent view – all without asking. This would be more than satisfying and would very likely delight you. Although the upgrade won’t happen every time you check in, it’s a nice touch when it does and you’re likely to stick with that hotel chain because they treat you so well.
Successful organizations offer great products and services that delight their customers. Systems design tells us to build with the customer in mind, to work with them closely, to build in small increments and then seek feedback, so that we better understand what will actually delight them. As disciplined agilists we embrace change because we know that our stakeholders will change their minds as they learn what they truly want as the solution evolves.
This article is excerpted from Chapter 2 of the book An Executive’s Guide to Disciplined Agile: Winning the Race to Business Agility.