Combining Assessment Insight and the Voice of Your Teams to Build Targeted Improvement Plans
Leaders across industries and geographies are continually being asked to “Do More with Less…”. While this reality isn’t new, it’s definitely not going away anytime soon. The question, then, is how to consistently deliver more value across your teams in sustainable ways…
The good news is that Agile and Business Agility practices can do just that – help you deliver more value, faster, on a consistent basis. The tougher news, though, is that developing mature, aligned Agile capabilities can be a lot of work, and when approached in a “learn as you go” basis, can be a multi-year process. As a result, the question many leaders are wrestling with is:
How can I compress the Agile learning curve across my teams?
While there’s no silver bullet to tackling this challenge, there are definitely patterns that work. The most effective approach we’ve seen at AgilityHealth® is to:
- Start with Education and Awareness. Agile practices can be a bit of a departure for those first being exposed to them. Core practices like visualizing your work, daily stand-ups, and “slicing” work to accelerate value delivery can take time to internalize. The value of these practices, however, are abundantly clear once people see them in action.
- Align your teams on “What Good Looks Like”. Many organizations new to Agile experience significant churn while “norming” and aligning their Agile practices. A much more effective approach is to leverage the AgilityHealth platform and AgileVideos.com to quickly align folks on proven best practices.
- Establish a clear baseline of your current state Agile maturity and performance. Assessing each of your teams’ current state practices and performance metrics against defined best practices will give you a clear qualitative and quantitative understanding of your baseline capabilities. It’s also a key enabler to focusing your teams on those areas where they have the greatest opportunities for improvement.
- Make sure to capture the “Voice of the Team”. Your assessment process should make sure to provide team members an opportunity to voice their perspectives on what’s working and what may need additional attention. “Bottoms-up” feedback also helps with buy-in and is a great way to identify where practices need to modified/tailored to specific needs.
- Leverage your assessment data and feedback from your teams to create focused, measurable improvement plans. The quickest way for teams to work their way up the Agile curve and consistently deliver more value, is to explicitly commit to improving in measurable ways. At AgilityHealth, we recommend identifying these shared improvement commitments as part of a quarterly or semi-annual retrospective that leverages both structured assessments and in-depth team introspection.
- Finally, celebrate improvements and double down where teams weren’t successful in moving the needle. As you reassess maturity and performance, share significant improvements across the teams and any best practices that helped them work up the curve. This is particularly true when improvements in team maturity and capabilities lead to measurable performance gains in areas like Throughput, Quality, and Customer Satisfaction. Equally as important, recommit to improving in areas that didn’t mature significantly and complete a root cause analysis of what impeded measurable improvement. It’s important that this process remain as constructive, positive, and “blame-free” as possible, but identifies the challenges the team encountered. If the team was overwhelmed with unplanned work, consider prioritizing improvement efforts higher next period. If they encountered organizational blockers to their success, work to remove those blockers for them.
Inspect & adapt
At their core, these suggestions are a great example of the “Inspect and Adapt” practices that have made Agile and Lean so successful and impactful. They can also play a key role in helping you “Deliver More, With Less” over time. In addition, they’re a critical enabler to working in sustainable ways, with high levels of commitment across your teams.
What’s not to like?
Increased Performance, Quality, Innovation, Maturity, and Engagement. All are measures of an effective leader and high-performing teams!
by Jason Molesworth, Enterprise Business Agility Strategist, AgilityHealth