Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Process Alphabet: Continuous Improvement

Draft Version



Development context is continuously changing. Technology is continuously changing. Competition is continuously improving. Continuously improving and adapting is a survival concern, not just something nice to have.     

A base for continuous improvement: collaborative work, retrospectives, current life-cycle/process awareness. Retrospectives are fundamental for improvement. Collaborative work is fundamental for retrospectives. 

What should be expected from a method/process approach
  • Continuous improvement goal must be explicitly described as fundamental
  • Support for improvement base should be running
  • Support for improving WoW with guidance for
    • Eliminating Waste: Core Agile Practices & Adapt to Context (selecting life-cycles, practices, shaping the rolling wave in context)
    • Explicit goals for Evolving WoW (short, medium and long-term)
How to improve: we need the base for improvement and then opportunistically change the WoW: learn new practices, tailor the process by shaping our information rolling wave. 

© Copyright Valentin Tudor Mocanu 2019

Continuous improvement in Scrum

Continuous improvement goal - it is explicit, in the definition, but with too few support in the content
Continuous improvement base: Collaborative work - Scrum help teams to start working collaboratively but do not provide real good engineering practices or guidance.  Iteration level meetings are a start for teams that do not collaborate but are too simplistic and too few for professional work.
Continuous improvement base: Retrospective – Scrum has retrospectives but will be better if the impediments will be also a goal of the team and not only for Scrum Master. 
Guidance for improving WoW – there very few and too generic, as selecting one problem to solve from the last retrospective. Mainly are just a few lines of text.

Continuous improvement in XP

Continuous improvement goal - it is explicit, but not “in the title”.
Continuous improvement base: Collaborative work – XP is based on collaboration.  Collaboration with the customer it is supported by several practices, while development is based on pair programming. Anyway, there is no guidance for pair programming alternatives.
Continuous improvement base: Retrospective – XP retrospectives are a kind o Cinderella. They use retrospectives, but they often forgot to mention it in method descriptions
Guidance for improving WoW – XP is good for learning about Core Agile Practices (see Process Alphabet dedicated section) and about principles related to improvement, but there are no options for life-cycle and for core practices alternatives (excepting few “corollary practices”). Here are some of their principles
  • Definition: “It means continuous awareness, responsiveness to feedback, and openness to improvement
  • Barely good enough: “The cycle is to do the best you can today, striving for the awareness and understanding necessary to do better tomorrow. It doesn't mean waiting for perfection in order to begin.”
  • Optimize the whole: “Micro-optimization is never enough. To improve our results, we must look at the whole situation before deciding what to change
XP has no adapt to process guidance and no concrete goals for evolving WoW (excepting the Core Agile Practices).

Continuous improvement in DA

Continuous improvement goal - it is explicit, and there is associated guidance.
Continuous improvement base: Collaborative work – DA offers more non-solo work practices (beyond pair-programming) and guidance.
Continuous improvement base: Retrospective – it is explicit, and the responsibility is associated in the right way with the whole team.
Guidance for improving WoW – this is the most of DA content, guidance for choosing and improving the WoW process goals decisions points, and guidance for Core Agile Practices. 

How to … my custom process

Continuous improvement goal – make this goal explicit.
Scrum users: Inspect & Adapt is a good thing but is too vague and too few to be used only on Iteration Reviews and Daily Meetings. Use Disciplined Agile guidance with concrete goals and options. Here the explicit goals: Identify improvements, Share improvements, Support teams, Organize Communities of Practice (CoPs), Organize Centers of Excellence (CoEs), Govern improvement.
XP users: XP guidance about Core Agile Practices is great, but in DA you can find also some missing core practices such as: Architecture Envisioning, Look Ahead Modeling and Planning, Model Storming.  Also, as in the case of Scrum users, the DA concrete improvement goals will help.
Continuous improvement base: Collaborative work – you will need good coverage for all fundamental collaborative practices: intra-team, inter-teams, and collaboration with stakeholders.
Scrum users: you need to complement the Iteration and Daily Meetings with Pair Programming and the DA practices for collaborative Looking Ahead and Just-In-Time clarifications. For stakeholders collaboration, you will need to complement Product Owner with Active Stakeholder Participations and eventually with On-Site-Customer. Inter-teams knowledge & experience sharing could be done with DA Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Centers of Excellence (CoEs) .    
XP users: as plus versus Scrum, XP has Pair Programing and has additional practices for the collaboration with stakeholders. Anyway, XP does not address well the Retrospectives. For retrospectives and inter-teams collaboration, I have the same recommendation from DA guidance as in the case of Scrum.
Continuous improvement base: Retrospective – must be explicitly defined as an improvement meeting with a Whole Team approach.
Scrum users - The remove impediments responsibility should be extended from the Scrum Master to the whole team. Also should be considered DA idea to invite the Product Owner in the Retrospective and also consider DA associate guidance.
XP users should consider the DA guidance about this subject that is neglected in XP.
Guidance for improving WoW – What you need to improve your WoW?

Core Agile Practices – See Process Alphabet: Core Agile Practices
  • Use XP and DA guidance
Adapt to Context guidance – See Process Alphabet: Adapt to Context
  • Use DA guidance
Explicit goals for evolving the WoW
Scrum users: again, Inspect & Adapt for Iteration and Daily meeting is useful but is too few. Should be used  the DA concrete goals for Evolving the WoW.
Here are some of the DA guidance subject of interest (you will recognize some of the process alphabet topics):
  • How will we collaborate within the team?
  • What lifecycle will we follow?
  • How do we explore an existing process?
  • What processes/practices will we initially adopt?
  • How will we identify potential improvements?
  • How can we reuse existing practices/strategies?
  • How will we implement potential improvements within the team?
  • How will we capture our WoW?
  • How will we share effective practices with others within our organization?
  • What digital/software tools will we adopt?


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