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Disciplined Agile Continuous Improvement: Speeding Up Organizational Learning


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Disciplined Agile's Continuous Improvement process blade is to enable people within your organization to easily share their improvement learnings with one another in a systematic way. Systematic knowledge sharing is important because it increases your opportunity for radical improvements, shortens the time from idea to implementation, maximizes your "failure ROI", and spreads learnings more widely.

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Disciplined Agile Continuous Improvement: Speeding Up Organizational Learning

  1. 1. Disciplined Agile Continuous Improvement: Speeding Up Organizational Learning Scott W. Ambler Senior Consulting Partner scott [at] @scottwambler
  2. 2. Agenda •  Our principles •  Our scope •  From adoption to continuous improvement •  Team-based improvement •  Organizational improvement •  Parting thoughts © Disciplined Agile Consortium 2
  3. 3. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 3
  4. 4. The Seven Principles of Disciplined Agile © Disciplined Agile Consortium 4 Delight Customers Pragmatism Be Awesome Context Counts Choice is Good Optimize Flow Enterprise Awareness
  5. 5. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 5 Our Scope
  6. 6. Improvement Occurs At Many Levels © Disciplined Agile Consortium 6 Individual Team Organization
  7. 7. From Transformation to Continuous Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 7
  8. 8. From Transformation to Continuous Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 8 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 … Transformation Continuous Improvement This is a journey, not a destination You may choose to start your process improvement efforts as a “transformation project” To succeed in the long term you must adopt a continuous improvement mindset
  9. 9. Agile Adoption Effort Over Time © Disciplined Agile Consortium 9
  10. 10. Continuous Improvement Effort Over Time © Disciplined Agile Consortium 10
  11. 11. Team-Based Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 11
  12. 12. The Process Goals of Disciplined Agile Delivery © Disciplined Agile Consortium 12
  13. 13. Goal: Improve Team Process and Environment © Disciplined Agile Consortium 13
  14. 14. Retrospectives •  Take time to reflect on what is working well and identify potential improvements or experiments to try •  Retrospectives can be performed individually, at the team level, or across teams •  Success factors: –  Change up your approach to retrospectives to keep things fresh –  Track/measure your progress in adopting potential improvements –  Use the goal diagrams to provide options for potential improvements –  Hold retrospectives when you need to, not just at the end of an iteration/sprint –  Bring in “outsiders” for a fresh perspective –  Aim to get multiple viewpoints/opinions •  Suggested resource: © Disciplined Agile Consortium 14
  15. 15. Value Stream Maps © Disciplined Agile Consortium 15
  16. 16. Value Stream Mapping Session © Disciplined Agile Consortium 16
  17. 17. Value Stream Mapping – Suggested Resource © Disciplined Agile Consortium 17
  18. 18. Running “Improvement Experiments” •  Adopting an experimentation mindset is critical •  Potential improvements can be implemented as “experiments” or “minimal viable changes (MVCs)” •  The goal is to identify what works for you in the context that you face © Disciplined Agile Consortium 18
  19. 19. Measured Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 19 •  The Challenge: –  It is fairly straightforward to identify potential improvements –  You can only adopt so many changes at once –  BUT, it isn’t so easy to continue with the hard work of adopting the improvements over time •  The Solution: –  Track how well you’ve adopted a given change –  For example, a team can regularly rate itself for how well it has adopted previously identified changes through voting/poker/survey strategies –  Wait until your ratings have consistently levelled off before focusing on new changes
  20. 20. Sharing Improvements With Others •  Open spaces •  Hackathons •  Lean coffee •  Practitioner presentations (e.g. lunch and learns) •  Discussion forums •  Capture/document improvements •  Write a blog/article •  Word of mouth © Disciplined Agile Consortium 20
  21. 21. Organizational Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 21
  22. 22. Organizational Improvement © Disciplined Agile Consortium 22
  23. 23. Maximize the ROI of “failures” Increase the chance of radical improvement Shorten cycle time from improvement idea to implementation © Disciplined Agile Consortium 23 Continuous Improvement Beyond the Team?
  24. 24. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 24 Continuous Improvement
  25. 25. Criteria for Effective Agile Coaches Years of experience, not days of training Proven coaching experience and skills Robust agile skills and knowledge Experience in a similar context Suggested Resources: • • • © Disciplined Agile Consortium 25
  26. 26. Communities of Practice (CoPs)/Guilds © Disciplined Agile Consortium 26
  27. 27. Organizing an Agile Center of Excellence (CoE) © Disciplined Agile Consortium 27
  28. 28. Capturing Improvements © Disciplined Agile Consortium 28
  29. 29. Governing Continuous Improvement •  Effective governance focuses on motivation and enablement –  Motivation: •  Celebrate learnings, including “failed” experiments •  Actively share improvements and strategies for improving –  Enablement: •  Provide people with the time to reflect and experiment •  Invest in CoEs, CoPs, and other sharing strategies •  Tracking improvements: –  DANGER: You get what you measure –  Measure desired business outcomes, not adoption of techniques or conformance to standards © Disciplined Agile Consortium 29
  30. 30. Justifying Continuous Improvement •  At some point somebody is going to ask “what did we get for our investment?” •  Co-relate desired business outcomes to investment in: –  Training –  Coaching –  Certification –  Improvement activities •  You likely won’t have a baseline, so track trends over time © Disciplined Agile Consortium 30
  31. 31. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 31
  32. 32. Goal: Improve Team Process and Environment © Disciplined Agile Consortium 32
  33. 33. © Disciplined Agile Consortium 33 Continuous Improvement
  34. 34. Join the DA Community! Anyone who attends a Disciplined Agile presentation or workshop is entitled to sign up at to register for the designation “Disciplined Agilist” Seriously though, the DA designation is an important first step towards earning an actual DA certification, such as: More importantly, it gives you access to our “members only” information and webinars at © Disciplined Agile Consortium 34
  35. 35. Thank You! Scott [at] @scottwambler Disciplined Agile Delivery © Disciplined Agile Consortium 35
  36. 36. Scott Ambler + Associates is the thought leader behind the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) framework and its application. We are an IT management consulting firm that advises organizations to be more effective applying disciplined agile and lean processes within the context of your business. Our website is We can help © Disciplined Agile Consortium 36