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Creating a culture of continuous
improvement at Avvo
Kevin Goldsmith, CTO
@kevingoldsmith
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Starting Point
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• 10 year old company
• Rapid growth over the last few years
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• Good values
• Clear mandate to improve
from senior leadership
• Agile already in practice
B...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• Poor information flows
• Bad habits encoded into myth
Challenges
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Stage 1: evaluate
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• Easy to jump in and start “fixing” things
• Need the complete picture
• Spent the first sev...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• What is going well?
• What is not going well?
• What can I do to help?
Questions to ask
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• So. Many. Silos.
• So many cross-team dependencies
• Transparency without clarity
• A bad c...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Lack of Velocity
(perceived) Lack of
Accountability
Forcing Function
Failure
to Achieve
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Stage 2: Make priorities clear
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• 3-4 Company-level strategic goals
• 6-12 month timeframe
• Decided by Senior Leadership Tea...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• 5-7 prioritized tactical goals
• 3-6 month timeframe
• Revisited every 6 weeks
• Cross-team...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Stage 3: replace dates with data
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Date-driven projects should have real business meaning and
consequences.
On dates
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• Track metrics, not dates
• Not “are we making the date?”, but rather “are we learning?”
Acc...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Created a data-driven decision-making framework and
educated the company on its use. All proj...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Stage 4: Continuous
Improvement
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Building a practice of having retrospectives beyond the agile
ceremony cycle and focus.
Retro...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Central repository for retrospective notes. Make it easy to
find the lessons.
Collect the lea...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
• clear priorities
• removal of artificial cadences
• metrics-driven teams
• data-driven deci...
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Lack of Velocity
Lack of
Accountability
Forcing Function
Failure
to Achieve
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
becomes
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
DATA
VISION
EXPERIMENTSLEARNING
PRODUCT
INFORMS
GUIDES
GENERATES
DRIVES
PROVIDES
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
DATA
VISION
EXPERIMENTSLEARNING
PRODUCT
INFORMS
GUIDES
GENERATES
DRIVES
PROVIDES
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Dziękuję Ci
@kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
Questions?
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Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement at Avvo

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Avvo is a 10-year old company that is in high growth mode. In June, Kevin Goldsmith joined Avvo as its CTO after three years at Spotify. He will share learnings of how the team is bringing a lean and agile culture to this rapidly growing company. How do you scale the tools of transformation from the team to the company? In a company eager for change, how do you decide where to invest and how fast to go? Kevin will also share some of the programs that have been put into place to begin the transition from a top-down to bottom-up culture.

Published in: Leadership & Management

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement at Avvo

  1. 1. Creating a culture of continuous improvement at Avvo Kevin Goldsmith, CTO @kevingoldsmith
  2. 2. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Starting Point
  3. 3. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • 10 year old company • Rapid growth over the last few years
  4. 4. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
  5. 5. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • Good values • Clear mandate to improve from senior leadership • Agile already in practice Benefits
  6. 6. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • Poor information flows • Bad habits encoded into myth Challenges
  7. 7. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Stage 1: evaluate
  8. 8. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • Easy to jump in and start “fixing” things • Need the complete picture • Spent the first several weeks with every team in the company in every area. Evaluate
  9. 9. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • What is going well? • What is not going well? • What can I do to help? Questions to ask
  10. 10. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
  11. 11. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • So. Many. Silos. • So many cross-team dependencies • Transparency without clarity • A bad cycle had developed What I learned
  12. 12. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Lack of Velocity (perceived) Lack of Accountability Forcing Function Failure to Achieve
  13. 13. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Stage 2: Make priorities clear
  14. 14. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • 3-4 Company-level strategic goals • 6-12 month timeframe • Decided by Senior Leadership Team Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)
  15. 15. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • 5-7 prioritized tactical goals • 3-6 month timeframe • Revisited every 6 weeks • Cross-team/functional effort • Proposed by the organization • Led by someone from the organization with Lead Team sponsorship • Clear Definition of Done Sub-WIGs (SWIGs) @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture
  16. 16. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Stage 3: replace dates with data
  17. 17. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Date-driven projects should have real business meaning and consequences. On dates
  18. 18. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • Track metrics, not dates • Not “are we making the date?”, but rather “are we learning?” Accountability without dates
  19. 19. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Created a data-driven decision-making framework and educated the company on its use. All project proposals will use this moving forward. Driving data-driven decision-making
  20. 20. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Stage 4: Continuous Improvement
  21. 21. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Building a practice of having retrospectives beyond the agile ceremony cycle and focus. Retrospectives everywhere
  22. 22. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Central repository for retrospective notes. Make it easy to find the lessons. Collect the learnings
  23. 23. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture • clear priorities • removal of artificial cadences • metrics-driven teams • data-driven decision making • a practice of retrospectives • an archive of learnings With
  24. 24. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Lack of Velocity Lack of Accountability Forcing Function Failure to Achieve
  25. 25. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture becomes
  26. 26. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture DATA VISION EXPERIMENTSLEARNING PRODUCT INFORMS GUIDES GENERATES DRIVES PROVIDES
  27. 27. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture DATA VISION EXPERIMENTSLEARNING PRODUCT INFORMS GUIDES GENERATES DRIVES PROVIDES
  28. 28. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Dziękuję Ci
  29. 29. @kevingoldsmith #avvoculture Questions?

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