Agile LEGO – Toyota Kata an alternative to Retrospectives
My name is Håkan Forss and I’m a Lean/Agile Coach at Avega Group in Stockholm.
But let me first introduce you to the team.
This is a tightly knit, cross-functional and very experienced team. They have been working with agile for a few years, mostly using Scrum.
The team consists of developers, testers, operations and business representatives.
The team has made many big process improvements over the years.
After great resistance from the office manager and human resources the team could last year be fully collocated.
They have adopted pair programming and test driven development.
But lately the team seems to have plateaued and is not improving any more.
At the end of every sprint the team does their agile retrospective
They reflect on what worked well, what did not work as well and what could improve.
They collect suggestions on improvements and add them to the already long and growing list of improvement suggestions.
They prioritize the improvement list and what improvements should be done in the next sprint.
Maybe it is time to try an alternative?
The two Kata-s are:
- The Improvement Kata
- The Coaching Kata
In this story we will touch on the Improvement Kata.
The Improvement Kata guides us in a very focused way from our Current Condition towards our vision. The path goes through a number of intermediate Target Conditions in an iterative manner.
The Improvement Kata contains four steps
- Understand the Direction, so you know where you are going
- Grasp the Current Condition, to get your reference point
- Establish the Next Target Condition, that is your next step on the path towards the vision
- Plan-Do-Check-Act Toward the Target Condition
Having a clear vision, a compass heading, a true north is very important.
This is our guiding star that will make us all go in the same direction and not lose our focus.
As important as our vision, or maybe even more important is to grasp our Current Condition.
And I mean REALLY grasp our Current Condition.
To really understand you need to go to the place where the real work is really done. You need to talk to the people really doing the work.
You need to measure and collect data to grasp you Current Condition.
When we understand where we are and we have our long term vision it is time for the team coach and leader to set a challenging but not too challenging Target Condition.
A Target Condition describes the state of the process when the target is achieved. It does NOT describe the steps needed to get there.
When the Target Condition is set it is the teams turn to come up with experiments, Plan-Do-Check-Act cycles, that will take the process towards the Target Condition.
The team tries different experiments using Plan-Do-Check-Act cycles until they have reached or are close to reaching the Target Condition.
Then the Improvement Kata starts over and a new Target Condition gets set that is a little bit closer to the long term vision.
Now that the team has tried this for a few months, how are they doing?
With Toyota Kata the team can now be more focused on continuously improving their process. They practice the Improvement Kata every day and gets better and better at hands on problem solving. We have created a true learning organization.
Toyota Kata rocks!!
A special thank you goes to Andrea Chiou Adaptive Collaboration for help with my poor spelling.