Discovery and Delivery: A Balancing Act

November 22, 2014

Agile, Video Game Development

Sculpture of three stacks of smooth rocks

After returning to work and the world of video game development, I continued to reflect on David Hussman’s point about balancing discovery and delivery when leading agility. In creative industries like video game development, that balancing act is part of our daily lives. We can always make it better or try something new… up until we ship. I poked around the web a bit to see what other thought leaders discussed on the subject.

There are a lot of articles on innovation and discovery. There are even more articles on delivery. Unfortunately, there are very few on how to transition from discovery to delivery or on how to balance between the two. This is quite surprising, considering all product development needs to go through a discovery phase to figure out what the product is and, at some point, transition to a phase where the focus is on delivering something to market. Many products never make that transition, which Sam McNerney discusses in The Discovery-Delivery Gap: Why Implementation Does Not Proceed From Invention. Unless someone needs to challenge the status-quo, invention does not move into implementation.

But business depends on selling products and services, which means something needs to be delivered to market. As Hal Gregersen explains in his video: Balancing Discovery And Delivery For A Sustainable Future, you can find balance by partnering innovation-focused people with “get things done” people.

When you have “ideas” people partnering with “get things done” people, you still need to ensure that both have the time and space to do their part. Bryan Rees recommends using Dual-Track Scrum, where the Product Owner, Designer and Lead Programmer are sprinting on discovery stories, refining those stories and handing them off to the delivery team to create the shippable product. This ensures that both discovery and delivery are happening continuously, but as Rees points out, there may be communication and team assignment challenges that happen when two teams are working on the same thing in parallel.

When creative ideas can come from anywhere, you may miss out on a great idea when only a small part of the team is focused on discovery. The team learns from the consequences of their decisions first-hand, so it is important that the team has experience in the entire development process. In Dual-Track Scrum, you could rotate team member between the tracks.

Next week I’ll discuss some ways to integrate discovery and delivery.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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2 Comments on “Discovery and Delivery: A Balancing Act”

  1. Snoskred Says:

    Hey there, I found you via the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    As part of NaBloPoMo I try to comment on as many participating blogs as I can, and I am also adding participating blogs to my feed reader. So I’m just dropping by to let you know I’ve added your blog to my feedreader, whenever you publish a post I will see it. 🙂

    I have created three bundles on Inoreader so that bloggers can easily visit other participating NaBloPoMo bloggers which you can find here –

    Your blog is in the second bundle.. I also have a link up going at my place so my readers can find participating blogs which you are more than welcome to add your blog link to.

    Looking forward to seeing your posts. You may see me drop by again during November, but it might be December before I finish my first drop by to blogs if I don’t get faster at leaving comments. 🙂

    Happy NaBloPoMo to you!



  1. Using Agile In Data Science Research | Sockets and Lightbulbs - July 31, 2019

    […] Discovery and Delivery: A Balancing Act […]

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