Continuous Improvement and our role in the Agile community.

Last post 06:41 am September 22, 2020
by Prudhvi Teja
3 replies
01:23 am September 18, 2020

I have seen teams and organisations stand proud of their high performance peaks. However upon closer inspection I found some of these peaks plateaued months/years ago. Now missing the continuous improvement that made these teams great. While they have improved from their previous state, they have become complacent.

What does complacency look like? It’s the comments and/or notions of. 

  • "We are already a high performance team"
  • "We have nothing to improve on"
  • "We don't do retros anymore" 
  • "We don't see the point of retro's because we talk about the same issue" suggestions no resolution…
  • Or worst "why do we need to improve?"
  • Etc…

As Agile practitioners we co-own the accountability to instil the ethos of continuous improvement. Ensuring that teams celebrate while striving for greatness. What if, I as an Agile practitioner am no longer feeling this. "I don't see the point of running retrospective" or "I hit an emotional wall" or "I am not empowered to make any further changes" or worst "I show up physically or virtually but I am emotionally checked out". You are not alone, I have been there and have seen others there as well. I have seen the people burnout through mid transformations, at the end of long engagements, etc. A few tips that I have notice that kept me engaged when the novelty has worn off and grit was needed. 

  • Gaining executive sponsorship on the team/organisation improvements. 
  • Transparently broadcasting the wins and impediments that need support. 
  • Building a relationship with the sponsor to such a degree that I can openly communicate what is not working along authentically.
  • Switching my focus to something that energises me for the moment, not forgetting what is left half complete.
  • Trying again to achieve the outcome with a different solution.
  • Taking a short holiday to recharge and recoup. 
  • What are some of the tips that kept you engaged and improving?

To meta these tips. It was really about using the limited energy to directly engage the impediments in different ways. My ask is, to be objective with yourself, how am I as an Agile practitioner engaging with the team? is the team continuously improving? 

08:59 am September 19, 2020

I'm at peace with the idea that a lot can change within a few months; often when I've found myself becoming frustrated with a lack of progress, there's been an increasing tension amongst colleagues, and a developing need for the things I've already been working on, or new areas for improvement.
Once this tension reaches a certain level, it tends to result in a greater sense of urgency – perhaps from management, or perhaps from people across the company – and this sense of urgency breathes life into the things I am trying to do.

I've learned to look ahead at what new challenges might emerge in the near future. As soon as I don't see any significant challenges on the horizon, or I sense there's no desire amongst others to do something about them, then I'll move on. But so far that hasn't happened.

And if there's really one tip I would give every Scrum Master, it's keep your calendar as free as possible. The less busy you are, the more helpful you can be when you're needed. Also, by reducing your own stress, you'll be able to absorb more of the context around you, and develop a better understanding of where more transparency is needed, the breakdowns in communication, the symptoms of organizational dysfunctions, etc. You will almost certainly be much more effective in your role.

In practical terms, this can mean delegating and sharing ownership of initiatives whenever possible, rather than being the go-between, decision maker, or a fixer of all problems. This is almost always going to better for the team.

10:30 am September 19, 2020

Hello, I hope you're doing well!

I know that this is not what you're talking about here, but I need to ask, does the questions are always the same in the PSM-1 exam? Because I failed the first time and I'm a little bit afraid to do it again.

And as I read on the forum, people said they failed on the same 1 or 2 questions, so just to have an idea, are the questions the same?

06:41 am September 22, 2020

Great Tip Simon Mayer.

I have felt that "tension" as well in working in an Agile practice where our remit was to uplift teams and their process or lack their off.

As I read your reply I am reminded by the notion of critical mass and how some organisations need to build pressure point before taking action.