Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI)

So what can we do to improve on this? The linchpin is the very first step in the process of Figure 1, the identification of a technique to experiment with. As you see in Figure 2, when we improve the likelihood that a technique will work in our situation then our effectiveness rises faster due to more successful experiments. We call this guided continuous improvement (CGI).

GCI - Process

Figure 1. Running an experiment to evolve your WoW (click to enlarge).

GGI - Guided Experiments

Figure 2. Guided continuous improvement increases the chance of successful experiments (click to enlarge).

It’s a simple idea – with better process decisions our average rate of process improvement is faster, as you can see in Figure 3.

GCI - CI vs GCI

Figure 3. Team effectiveness improves at a quicker rate with guided continuous improvement (click to enlarge).

There are three ways that you adopt a GCI-based approach:

  1. Hire an experienced coach (and listen to them). Although it can be
    hard to find an experienced agile coach they do exist and if you’re lucky enough to have one then follow their guidance.
  2. Apply the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit. There are several ways you can apply the DA tool kit to help you to make better process decisions. Instead of prescribing the “best practices” you must adopt, DA instead advises you on process-related issues you need to think about and the options available to you. Such issues include what you should consider when choosing a lifecycle, what you should consider when forming your team, and what you should consider when addressing changing stakeholder needs (to name a few important things). The DA tool kit then presents you with potential options and the trade-offs associated with those options. This gives you an idea as to what techniques you might want to experiment with and what is likely to happen if you do, enabling you to make better process decisions. This site overviews these decisions and the book Choose Your WoW! summarizes the trade-offs for Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). GCI is one of several strategies for applying the DA tool kit, see the process goal Evolve Your Way of Working (WoW) for further ideas.
  3. Both of the above. Good coaches have the humility to recognize that they don’t know everything, and will leverage the DA tool kit to help your team to make better decisions about new WoW to experiment with.