Thursday, December 20, 2012

Continuous Improvement for a Perfect 10

I remember sitting on the basement steps in the summer of 1976 watching Nadia Comaneci win the worlds first perfect 10 in the history of modern gymnastics.  Her command of the whirling routine on the uneven bars was a marvel.

The announcers told us that she had scored a 10, but the scoreboards read 1.00!  Turns out that Omega, the traditional Olympics scoreboard manufacturer, asked beforehand if the boards for gymnastics would need four digits., they were told that a perfect 10 was impossible.

As I watched that fourteen-year-old girl push the limits of how strong and graceful a human body can be, I thought, “I wonder how many times she has fallen as she tried something new?  And how many times she got back up eager to try again.

gymnasticsThe idea behind continuous improvement is that things aren’t as good as they could be, yet.  Things can always be tweaked.  Any process can be improved, if, one is willing to shine a light on every little thing, the good and the not so great.  Laughter helps too.?  And how many times her coach suggested that she do it just a little bit differently?  And I wonder how they exulted when the new routine finally worked?  They work together so she can win 10s!” 

Take a page from the evolutionary process and make small changes rather than giant leaps.  Evaluate.  Did it move us in the right direction?  What might?  Make another change.  Get feedback from stakeholders and customers.  Inspect.  Adapt.

In Scrum, it’s the Team, the people who are doing the work, who take responsibility for continually improving.  It’s their process and they are the ones who know it best.  What is working really well?  Did that last tweak do the trick?  What could be done better?  And in Scrum, it's the Retrospective that provides the structure for ensuring this conversation takes place.

I suspect that after each 10, Nadia and her coach assessed every move she made, the hand twist that so delighted the crowd, how to stick that landing even more surely by lifting her head.  And then, she did it again.

Want to take your team to the next level?  Check out our new guide, 3 Steps for an Effective Retrospective.

1 comment:

scrumcrazy said...

With respect to this advice:

Ask each Team member:
1. On a scale of 1-5, how happy are you with your role in the company?
2. On the same scale, how happy are you with the company?

Are you suggesting that each team member give their answer verbally to the rest of the team in the retro?