Jun 25, 2024
Time Is A Requirement, Not A Resource: Three Radical Ideas On Iterative Engineering
Parikshat Singh

The next-generation of space companies are all betting their companies on one idea—Agile. Webinar Recap.

Time Is A Requirement, Not A Resource: Three Radical Ideas On Iterative Engineering

Leaders from Hermeus, Planet, and ABL discussed Agile vs. Waterfall with me at our last webinar. Here are three sets of wisdom they shared:

Skyler (COO, Hermeus)

It's faster to make a 3" telescope, then a 6" telescope, than to make a 6" telescope straight away. Learn by doing, not by thinking.

You need to build "reps" with your team on the full lifecycle to build it into the culture. Everyone from engineering, to manufacturing, to test. They need to start learning together and the best way to do that is to ship something smaller faster. They started with a rocket powered go kart and are now building the humanities fastest aeroplanes.

Build "reps" with your team on the full lifecycle to build it into the culture. Everyone from engineering to manufacturing to test needs to learn together. The best way to do that is to ship something smaller faster. Hermeus started with a rocket-powered go-kart and are now building humanity's fastest airplanes.

Think of time as a requirement, not a resource. Then force as much scope into that time as you can, not the other way around. The biggest cost in development is time (large team * salaries).

Hermeus ship a new iteration of an hypersonic aeroplane a year—every year.

Quinn (VP Eng, Planet)

Waterfall is about doing what the requirements told you to do. Agile is about having an impact on customers. If the requirements are wrong, change them.

Ship frequently to test your validation hypothesis. Waterfall focuses on "did it work" vs. Agile's "did it impact the customer?"

Markets and customer needs change. Investors want to see you're adaptable to market needs, which means iteration speed. If you can't iterate fast, there's a risk the market will change, and you won't keep up. Planet needs to see impact fast, so the 10-year NASA approach can't work.

Ian (VP Eng, ABL)

The role of a leader is to say what you're not going to do, as well as what you are going to do.

Building a culture of responsibility is everything. Tools help, but it starts with people.

Change happens bottom-up with insurgency. Build traction on culture change with "I did this in an agile way and it worked" rather than theorizing.

Me (CEO, Flow Engineering)

Downscoping is the most important thing a leader can do.

Get to the heart of what you're trying to learn or demonstrate in this iteration. If you build a machine that churns out iterations, you'll know that if you miss it on this one, you'll get it on the next.

A huge 💜 to Quinn, Skyler, and Ian for the awesome conversation and to Payload (CC Jack, Audrey, Mo, and Ari) for being the coolest team in town.

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