Kaizen – “change for better”
A key part of agile software development is the idea of continuously improving how you work. Retrospectives are a common event for any agile team’s calendar where they have the time to reflect on the good, the bad and the new. They give the space for reflection and improvement when normally the team is focused on delivery. So, an effective tool for a team but can it be applied beyond the team? Are hard earned lessons shared between teams? Can the teams take on company wide improvements?
At Naimuri, we have Kaizen sessions which are held fortnightly and last up to two hours. We invite everyone and encourage them to attend regularly. The session’s aim is to bring people from different delivery teams together and use their wide range of experience to improve. The topic for improvement is varied and changes from session to session.
The topic is generally announced beforehand and oversubscribed sessions are repeated to get maximum participation. The topic can be suggested by anyone and the interest in the topic is used to prioritise running order.
Transparency is important to help with engagement so the output is fed back to everyone, be it a proposal, process change or a further Kaizen topic. A write up of each session is done in an informal blog, discussions and debates are encouraged to continue so we have forums to discuss topics after sessions finish. Changes can be of any size, and have found small incremental steps are far easier to adopt than larger leaps.
The sessions show remarkable problem solving power, a vast range of perspectives and have other bonuses. Often as a result of attending, teams have been able to re-evaluate their day-to-day roles and practices, then introduce improvements not previously considered. Tackling wider company issues with everyone being able to contribute leads to far easier adoption than a more traditional top-down approach.
We have talented staff whose daily life is spent problem solving in innovative ways. We use those honed skills to tackle wider issues by giving them time to share their experiences with each other. The result is we all get better.