Using Agile/SCRUM Tools for Fast Iteration on Improvement Projects

Posted by Patrick Peplowski on Mar 1, 2021 4:03:39 PM

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As a business leader, are you searching for an environment where high levels of collaboration and innovation meet speed and flexibility to drive your business forward? Although we all want to get there, it seems like that environment is either too difficult to achieve, or when you finally get there, even more difficult to sustain. Fixing problems quickly or dealing with complex customer requirements are constant challenges we all face in today’s dynamic business climate. And based on the last 12 months, it might be fair to say that uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are likely to be around for a while. This means that getting things done will be more challenging than ever. Perhaps there is a new way to work where culture thrives, people grow, and performance excels.      

SCRUM: No longer just for Software

Emerging from software development, SCRUM helped to transform the delivery process of software by creating a new way to work for programmers and designers. Since developers had little exposure to customers, and customers had little knowledge or input until everything was completed, rework and low satisfaction were commonplace. Using a foundation of transparency, inspection, and adaptability, SCRUM sought a better path by tossing aside traditional project management tools and embracing an iterative, incremental approach to product (software) development. Instead of delivering a new process or product after months of team meetings, SCRUM breaks-down the objective into a prioritized sub-list of items, known as a Product Backlog. The backlog items (sometimes referred to as “user stories”) are transformed into working products, and delivered for use to the customer through short, time-boxed events, or Sprints. Since the Sprints last 2 weeks or less, early, and continuous delivery of working products are provided to customers, which enables them to share real-time feedback, propose changes, or identify new requirements. Whether you have a process to improve, or a product to create, SCRUM could be a solution for faster delivery and increased responsiveness to ambiguous customer requirements.    

AGILE: The Real Benefits

Oftentimes, culture is the strategy. When culture is built upon actionable values such as collaboration, learning, and innovation, the speed of trust throughout the organization increases exponentially, and the results are indisputable. Agile is about your culture; you don’t “do Agile”. Agility is a mindset of who you are as a business, as a team, and as a person. Much like Lean is a journey, Agile embraces the same type of journey – a commitment to a future state for your organization. Since many of the fundamentals for Agile tie back to Lean principles, one is not a substitute for the other. The challenge is always…how do we get there. SCRUM is only a tool that supports and aligns with the Agile mindset. By design, SCRUM teams are self-organizing and devoid of a team manager or leader. Because working products are the output, the team gets to decide what to work on next, based upon backlog priority. Quickly, the SCRUM team must figure out how to work together and get things done. As they move through each 2-week increment, team members are accountable to each other and everyone is encouraged to take healthy risks to deliver working solutions. Finally, during blameless retrospect meetings, everyone shares what they learned to make the next Sprint better. As the cycle repeats itself until the backlog has been completed, the delivery team improves their performance. Consequently, people not only experience a new way to work, but they also have real input and control over their work, driving a culture of engagement.

Would you like to continue the conversation about your people and your culture? Are your people waiting for more from you? All of us at IMEC are ready to talk about how we can help drive your business forward, provide a safe environment for your people to develop and grow, and expand opportunities for your culture to thrive. There is value in following a plan, but there is more value in the ability to respond to change.

Get it touch!

Patrick Peplowski

Written by Patrick Peplowski

Topics: lean Manufacturing, process improvement, continuous improvement, culture, scrum, agile scrum, agile

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