Monday, July 11, 2011

Continuous improvement

While I would define Agile development as something along the lines of "Delivering the most business value with the least effort" a lot of what Agile is about is continuous improvement. Small incremental improvements done over a period of time that lead to a large improvement in efficiency and effectiveness.

My new job has given me cause to ponder this. Most of my Agile career I have dealt with organisations at the beginning of this process. Organisations implementing Agile or wanting to improve it due to some problems. Now, I find myself in a relatively mature Agile organisation where my team has been practicing Kanban for some two years or so. However, compared to other organisations I have met my teams process could be considered rather sloppy and immature. This has ledd me to ponder the possible causes and my money is on some kind of change friction. Just like a ball rolling will eventually roll to a halt so has the continuous improvement process in my team slowed down to zero. In fact, I would go as far as to say it has gone backwards slightly. The team has shrunk with no change to the WIPs resulting in a large amount of parallelism and the expected lack of focus. The stand-ups are tired and bored (at least that is my feeling) and certainly not indicative of a energetic focused team in a mature phase of Agile implementation. I believe that my team are simply tired of constantly looking for improvements. They have reached a phase where they think everything works pretty well and see no real gains in changing things from where they are. Has anyone else seen this effect? I am now thinking about how to broach this subject at the upcoming retrospective. Anyone got any ideas?

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