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Could aggregation of
“marginal gains”
lead to
innovation?
Tathagat Varma
Knowledgepreneur
http://thoughtleadership.in
How does a project
get to be a year
late?
Fred Brooks,
The Mythical Man-Month, 1975
…One day at a time!
The Mythical Man-Month
“…When one hears of disastrous
schedule slippage in a project, he
imagines that a series of major
c...
Her goal is not easy!
Needs
8,000
cals a
day!
…and neither was his!
Lost 108
kgs in
18
months!
So…
If a day-by-day delay can
eventually hurt a project that
bad, can we also reverse it?
…maybe build something by
day-to...
Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect
1972: Does the
Flap of a
Butterfly’s Wings
in Brazil Set Off a
Tornado in
Texas?
Small changes
can...
Team GB
• No British had ever won Tour de France till 2010.
Dave Brailsford, GM and Performance Director for
Team Sky, was...
So, what did he do?
• “The whole principle came from the idea that if you
broke down everything you could think of that go...
Aggregation of Marginal
Gains
http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains
The simple math behind it
that “compounds” it…
(0.99)^365 = 0.03
(1.01)^365= 37.8
1%…same as Kaizen?
“…As an MBA, I had become fascinated
with Kaizen and other process-improvement
techniques. It struck me...
does it work outside
sports and fitness?
But…
Some famous examples…
• Toyota: 40 Years, 20 Million Ideas!
• Intuit’s SnapTax team iterated eight time in eight
weeks
• D...
MiG-15 vs. F-86s
• Colonel John Boyd was interested not just in any dogfights, but specifically in dogfights
between MiG-15s ...
Boyd’s OODA Loop
Boyd’s Law of Iteration
Speed of iteration 

beats 

the quality of
iteration!
The agile way…
http://agilemanifesto.org/
Using Scrum as a problem-
solving framework…
Your scrum implementation should
be about “double-loop” of learning
http://www.selfleadership.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/1...
Some “marginal gains” to try
in each sprint…
• reduce CI build speeds by 5 mins
• improve code coverage by 2%
• increase t...
Recap
• Innovation requires a mindset of continuous improvisation:
progress over perfection.
• Agile way, and Scrum framew...
References
• http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains
• Marginal Gains Interview with Dave Brailsford, https://
youtu.be/gBY3q...
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Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 1 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 2 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 3 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 4 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 5 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 6 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 7 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 8 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 9 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 10 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 11 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 12 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 13 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 14 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 15 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 16 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 17 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 18 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 19 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 20 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 21 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 22 Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation? Slide 23
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My talk at OpenScrum event at Pune, Sep 10. In this talk, I explore the idea of "marginal gains" in the context of agile development, and how scrum as a framework could be used to incrementally innovate.

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Could aggregation of "marginal gains" lead to innovation?

  1. 1. Could aggregation of “marginal gains” lead to innovation? Tathagat Varma Knowledgepreneur http://thoughtleadership.in
  2. 2. How does a project get to be a year late? Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month, 1975 …One day at a time!
  3. 3. The Mythical Man-Month “…When one hears of disastrous schedule slippage in a project, he imagines that a series of major calamities must have befallen it. Usually, however, the disaster is due to termites, not tornadoes; and the schedule has slipped imperceptibly but inexorably.”
  4. 4. Her goal is not easy! Needs 8,000 cals a day!
  5. 5. …and neither was his! Lost 108 kgs in 18 months!
  6. 6. So… If a day-by-day delay can eventually hurt a project that bad, can we also reverse it? …maybe build something by day-to-day, or an incremental progress?
  7. 7. Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect 1972: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? Small changes can lead to big results!
  8. 8. Team GB • No British had ever won Tour de France till 2010. Dave Brailsford, GM and Performance Director for Team Sky, was asked to change that. • Dave’s plan was to win in five years by optimising every aspect of performance. But they did in 2.5y! • Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win Tour de France in 2012. Chris Froome won Tour de France in 2013. • British Cycling Team, also coached by Dave, won 70% of Gold Medals at 2012 London Olympics.
  9. 9. So, what did he do? • “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together” • Started looking for “1% improvement”. In everything. • Started with…nutrition of riders, weekly training program, bike seat ergonomics, weight of tires, …and continued with….pillows that offered best sleep, most effective massage gels, even how best to wash hands to avoid infection! http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/19174302
  10. 10. Aggregation of Marginal Gains http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains
  11. 11. The simple math behind it that “compounds” it… (0.99)^365 = 0.03 (1.01)^365= 37.8
  12. 12. 1%…same as Kaizen? “…As an MBA, I had become fascinated with Kaizen and other process-improvement techniques. It struck me that we should think small, not big, and adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement through the aggregation of marginal gains. Forget about perfection; focus on progression, and compound the improvements.” https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-1-performance-improvements-led-to-olympic-gold
  13. 13. does it work outside sports and fitness? But…
  14. 14. Some famous examples… • Toyota: 40 Years, 20 Million Ideas! • Intuit’s SnapTax team iterated eight time in eight weeks • Dyson’s 5,127 Iterations over 5+ years • Lexus LS400: 450 iterations and 900 engine prototypes over 5+ years
  15. 15. MiG-15 vs. F-86s • Colonel John Boyd was interested not just in any dogfights, but specifically in dogfights between MiG-15s and F-86s. As an ex-pilot and accomplished aircraft designer, Boyd knew both planes very well. He knew the MiG-15 was a better aircraft than the F-86. The MiG-15 could climb faster than the F-86. The MiG-15 could turn faster than the F-86. The MiG-15 had better distance visibility. • The F-86 had two points in its favor. First, it had better side visibility. While the MiG-15 pilot could see further in front, the F-86 pilot could see slightly more on the sides. Second, the F-86 had a hydraulic flight control. The MiG-15 had a manual flight control. • The standing assumption on the part of airline designers was that maneuverability was the key component of winning dogfights. Clearly, the MiG-15, with its faster turning and climbing ability, could outmaneuver the F-86. • There was just one problem with all this. Even though the MiG-15 was considered a superior aircraft by aircraft designers, the F-86 was favored by pilots. The reason it was favored was simple: in one-on-one dogfights with MiG-15s, the F-86 won nine times out of ten. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa479371.aspx
  16. 16. Boyd’s OODA Loop
  17. 17. Boyd’s Law of Iteration Speed of iteration beats the quality of iteration!
  18. 18. The agile way… http://agilemanifesto.org/
  19. 19. Using Scrum as a problem- solving framework…
  20. 20. Your scrum implementation should be about “double-loop” of learning http://www.selfleadership.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/AL-2.jpg
  21. 21. Some “marginal gains” to try in each sprint… • reduce CI build speeds by 5 mins • improve code coverage by 2% • increase test automation on legacy code by 2% • reduce tech debt by 5% • cross-skill team members • improve NPS / market-facing metrics by 1% • Increase employee happiness by 5% :) • …etc.
  22. 22. Recap • Innovation requires a mindset of continuous improvisation: progress over perfection. • Agile way, and Scrum framework in particular, facilitates iterative thinking that could be used effectively to progressively eliminate the pain points (and track the results to ensure that efforts are aligned to results!) • Over time, such “aggregation of marginal gains” could lead to a significant innovation. • Next time you want something big…try something small!
  23. 23. References • http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains • Marginal Gains Interview with Dave Brailsford, https:// youtu.be/gBY3q8TqoXY • http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/racing/olympics/ maginal-gains-british-cycling-didnt-think-275219 • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Brailsford • https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-1-performance- improvements-led-to-olympic-gold
  • RahulSingh1786

    May. 29, 2017
  • sarab27us

    Feb. 18, 2017
  • bhuvanmisra

    Sep. 10, 2016

My talk at OpenScrum event at Pune, Sep 10. In this talk, I explore the idea of "marginal gains" in the context of agile development, and how scrum as a framework could be used to incrementally innovate.

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