This is the short "opinion piece" I wrote to introduce our Skrum topic today. Sharing it here too.

Process improvement happens everywhere, all the time.

Changes to processes and the way we work is done all the time.

A supplier requires additional specifications; a customer has a special request, or we need to accept cryptocurrencies...

We adapt. This is something we do well as humans.

Are all these are these changes actual improvements?

We know by experience in this room, that not all changes are good. What do we mean by good? We certainly don't change a process for the sake of it? Maybe a process is too complex and we will make ou own "simplified" version. We just created a new process! It's better for me, yay!

So let's qualify "bad change":

  • Benefits the parts, not the whole,
  • It's done in isolation
    • may creates more work for others
    • may put the company in a risky situation
    • may set a precedent that will be hard to sustain
  • Doesn't align with strategy (or even contradicts it). We were supposed to move the work from team A to team B and now we realise they both do it.
  • Doesn't solve the problem at its root

Trying to see how these changes emerge, we often see that they are created in "reactive mode". In the moment, without taking the time to think things through.

It doesn't emerge from a pro-active reflection of what should our processes do, what caused the problem in the first place.

Of course, this is easier said than done.

But I do believe there are ways to make this happen in organisation small and large

Creating a culture of process improvement is about understanding that "reactive work" should not be the norm.

Most of our time is dedicated to working in the process.

We need to procure the right materials for our production, we need to deliver good software, we need to serve customers, we need to manage the business.

So what is a good process ? We can obviously start by taking the opposite of the "bad change" list and start there, but a good processes are more than that.

And good processes are invisible, they are the commonly accepted way of working for a business. Most importantly, it is flowing.

It doesn't feel like we are reinventing the wheel for new projects. We don't have to negotiate roles & responsibilities every time something new arises.

Creating this state of flow requires work.

Creating a culture of process improvement is about working IN and ON the process.

This is when a team starts working ON the processes. They start dedicating time to discuss process, as a team. They start to embrase the fact that processes are not perfect.

It doesn't require much. It starts by showing a process on the screen and running through it as a team.

It's about being open about the workarounds that have been tested, about the problems we are trying to solve, the compliance requirements, other teams constraints, etc.

Where to start ?

We can talk about tactics all day, but there is ONE THING we know works: Get people together, make them talk about their processes. Map it in Skore. Magic will happen.