Continuous Improvement through Experimentation

create nonthreatening experiments that give the team a taste of the success they’ll enjoy if they make the change

Source: An Experiment in Enlivening Stagnant Teams – HBR

I enjoyed this article from HBR for several reasons.  First, how did they go about solving a problem?  They performed an experiment over a time boxed period.  Sound familiar?  This is what agile teams and especially agile coaches should be doing with each retrospective and iteration.  Coaches should be encouraging teams to try out new techniques and approaches to address recurring problems.  If they don’t work, try something else the next time.  Having that time box and proposing it as an experiment can be very helpful.

A second reason I enjoyed this article, it’s a good example of agile values outside of software development.  This HR department is being agile.  They are doing experiments in time boxes, reflecting on the results after the fact, and making adjustments.

Finally, I enjoyed the article simply  because it resonated with me.  I was once an intern in a similar environment.  The intern program had been established already and they already saw the value, but there was a group of tenured employees and then the interns.  Interns were given a lot of freedom on projects and were seen as a great source of ideas, energy, and hard work (especially since they didn’t have to attend a lot of the red tape type corporate meetings).  They too often converted interns to full time employees and I was one of those as well.  It was a great experience in my life and I’ve always promoted internship programs.

So head over to HBR (if you’ve used your 5 free article for the month already they currently have free memberships for a couple months) and read the full article.  Then start thinking about what some of your most troublesome issues are at work and some non-threatening experiments you could try.

The image at the top of this post, “Experimentation”, is a derivative of “Keep Out Experiment In Progress” by Steve Jurvetson, used under CC BY. “Experimentation” is licensed under CC BY by Development Block, LLC.

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