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Using the Improvement Kata for retrospectives


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In this session, we will explore the Improvement Kata as a technique to facilitate better retrospectives. The Improvement Kata contains 4 steps which are a pattern for scientific thinking and acting, with structured practice routines. It is built on the idea that change requires practice, often started with small behavior patterns. Many teams struggle to implement retrospective actions successfully, leading to disillusion and questioning the benefit of the meeting. Or sometimes, these actions are contradictory, causing no long term progress. In this session, we will learn the theory behind the Improvement Kata and practice it by using exercises. It will help you to stimulate continuous improvement in your organization and give you tools to facilitate it.

Published in: Business
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Using the Improvement Kata for retrospectives

  1. 1. Using the improvement kata for retrospectives @NickOostvogels
  2. 2. Who? Nick Oostvogels Agile & Kanban coach
  3. 3. Retrospective syndrome • Lots of actions stay untouched • Only minor improvements h"p://
  4. 4. Blindly implementing each idea will lead to: h"p://
  5. 5. Some actions cannot be finished because: - We took a wrong assumption - It is a long term change - It is out of control of the team
  6. 6. Kata : a pattern you practice to learn a skill and mindset. Improvement kata : a pattern for improving, adapting and innovating. It helps to improve continuously towards a goal instead of random hunting for improvements. h"p://
  7. 7. Improvement Kata Current condition Vision Target Condition PDCA PDCA PDCA
  8. 8. 1. Formalize the vision “What is important for us? How do we want to deliver software?
  9. 9. Current condition Vision Target Condition PDCA PDCA PDCA
  10. 10. 2. Use the vision to agree on the next target condition “What is the next step we can take to get closer to the vision?”
  11. 11. 3. Use the vision as a cross-check Does this improvement suggestion help us to get closer to the vision?
  12. 12. Results • Better focus • Long term thinking • Systems thinking • The vision is used as a referee during discussions • It may take several sprints to get to the next target condition
  13. 13. Inspired by
  14. 14. Toyota kata • How to make improvement part of our everyday work? • Use everyone's capabilities • Create a routine to work through obstacles
  15. 15. Toyota kata • Using cost/benefit analysis in a different way • Avoiding sub optimization • Longer term target condition • Experiment to test hypotheses • Coaching by team leaders
  16. 16. Exercise 1 Create a vision: “How would your group of people look like in an ideal world?” Behavior, values, interaction, rules, …
  17. 17. Exercise 2 Use the vision as inspiration “Brainstorm actions to improve as a group towards the vision” From all the ideas, define a 1ste target condition
  18. 18. Exercise 3 Vision poker “Score all branches of the vision”
  19. 19. Summary How to use in retrospectives • Create vision and define next step • Use vision as inspiration • Use vision as cross check in a regular retrospective • Vision poker
  20. 20. Thanks! @NickOostvogels