A popular mantra in Agile is deliver fast, deliver often. In some domains this may be applicable. Where we work and where agile is becoming the norm, we have another view.
Deliver as planned
The Plan for the delivery of value is shown in the Product Roadmap and implemented in the Cadence Release Plan, or sometimes in the Capabilities Release plan. Fast is a term replaced by Planned. The Plan is based on a Capabilities Based Plan. This Plan shows the increasing maturity of the Capabilities produced by the project. These Capabilities are needed by the business to accomplish the business case or fulfill a Mission.
Showing up fast is defined by showing up when needed. The need is defined in the Capabilities Based Planning process.
A Capability is the ability to accomplish something of Value. Here's a sample of what a Capability sounds like.
These are mission and business case terms, defined by the owners of the mission or Business Case. If y9ou show up Fast, that also means you can't show up early. For a simple reason - early means you may not be able to put that Value to work. It may mean that Value is not needed yet, and that Value may have to change when we get ready to use that Value. This is the role of the Plan.
In what order do we need what Capabilities - and all their associated technical and operational requirements having been fulfilled - for the needed cost, effectiveness, and performance requirements as well.
A final example - one of my favorites is the notion of the intent of the commander as the basis of defining capabilities. I have a colleague, who was General Schwarzkopf's logistic person in the first Gulf war. She was an Army Colonel and one of a small number of women combatants at the time. There are many more now, but she was a pioneer. One of reasons the US Army was able to move up the coast prior to crossing into Iraq in rapid time was because of her and her staffs planning skills. The notion of agile is the basis of all military process, not just 5 coders in the room with their customer.
So this statement says it all in terms of needed Capabilities
So when you hear deliver early and deliver often. Ask a simple question - what are we delivering? Is that deliverable arriving in the right order for the end user - the customer, the warfighter? Are there any predecessors to that deliverable that have to be in place for the FAST deliverable to be of any use?
This is the role of a Capabilities Based Plan. If your project has no interdependencies, if everything that is produced can be used as a standalone deliverable - arriving in any order - than Capabilities Based Planning is not likely to be of much value. And that's fine. But when we enter the Agile At Scale domain - ERP, Enterprise IT, Software Intensive System of Systems - we've got a separate issue. Order does matter. Fast is no longer of much value. As planned and as needed are the Critical Success Factors.
And a final thought
If you're going to Deliver Fast, do you have a Plan for how to do that? No, then how in the world are you going to deliver fast of you don't know what you are going to deliver, when that delivery will be done, and how you are going to deliver that value? Without a plan of some sort, how can you assert the naive notion of deliver fast and deliver often can ever be executed? It's just a platitude, without any actionable outcomes without a Plan on how to do that.