Written by Jeff on March 6, 2017 in concepts

Sharing drives continuous improvement

Efficiency is based on continuous improvement

Efficient teams or organisations have good processes. Efficiency is not created in a day. It is based on continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement requires feedback. Feedback from the process. It could be in the form of measurements or as lessons learned. Feedback is part of an iterative improvement cycle: improve the process, run the process, get more feedback.

This is the basis for Lean Manufacturing. The efficiency of Lean Manufacturing is not accidental. Lean uses continuous improvement, driven by the feedback from the process teams.

This is also the basis for the excellent Kanban method, an Agile approach developed by David J. Anderson. Kanban focusses on process improvement. It applies the philosophy of Lean Manufacturing to knowledge work, particularly for software development. It stresses incremental, evolutionary change and collaborative improvement.

Feedback on a process depends on cycle time

Manufacturing has short cycle times

In an automobile factory, cycle times are short. This simplifies continuous improvement. With short cycle times, process efficiency can be measured. Innovations can be tested. Volumes are high, so feedback is rapid.

Project Management has long cycle times

In Project Management, cycles times are long. A project can last months, even years. There is a low volume of projects, even inside large companies. To get meaningful measurements can take years.

Use social networking to get feedback

In Project Management, social networking can provide the large volume of projects. Scrum has demonstrated this. It has an active community running many thousands of projects. Scrum has evolved by sharing of Good Practice within the Scrum community.

Sharing means that Good Practice must be reusable

Social networking is about sharing. For social networking to be useful in Project Management, then people must share Good Practice. And that Good Practice must be designed for reuse.

Practice that other people can use, and give their feedback on.

That means Good Practice must be simple and modular

  • scenarios are simple high-level project templates
  • bricks are simple low level Good Practice

Good Practice is discovered, not prescribed

Sharing and feedback of Good Practice will drive dynamic improvement. This is the case of Scrum. Scrum is dynamic. It moves forward, driven by the community.

Contrast this to the old ways of working. So-called “Best Practice” is written by gurus, published in a prescriptive book and tested by exams. This is static. This is the case of PMI and Prince2. They are prescriptive tablets of stone, with inadequate feedback loops from the user community.

Sharing – like Wikipedia and Open Source

The sharing of Good Practice using a community approach is not new. Wikipedia is a created and edited by a community of volunteers. Open Source is a community effort. Many software applications result from open source: Mozilla, Chrome, Apache, Android…

Lean3 is in the same tradition.