Improvement theme

In a typical Scrum retrospective, the team identifies remedial action and then tries those in the upcoming sprint. But sometimes, the teams encounter large issues for which the solutions can span over multiple sprints. For example, the team might encounter an issue which needs a fix in how they do requirements, develop and release. It might be difficult to do it all in a single sprint.

Jimmy Janlén at Crisp has created a simple tool to deal with these kinds of situations wherein improvements span multiple sprints. It’s called an “Improvement Theme”. It’s inspired by Toyota Kata (which prescribes a systematic method to create a culture of continuous improvement and coaching in an organization). Jimmy describes the usage of poster in great detail in his blog.

Here’s an example poster
As part of the retrospective, once the team’s reflections are on the board ask the team to group them into topics. E.g.: comments related to bugs discovered during end-user testing could be put under a topic called “Quality”.

The team votes on their favorite topic. And creates a theme based on the topic. E.g.: Improve the quality of the product

An example improvement theme poster

An example improvement theme poster (Click on the image for better readability)

Deviations from the original poster

  • Not using the heading “Definition of awesome”. As cool as it sounds, I think there are already too many “Definition of…” in our community.
  • Added a new review date section to highlight the commitment the team has made on when to meet again and review the results.
  • A Done section to move all the post-it notes from the “Next steps” section when the actions are completed.

Some things to keep in mind

  • The team should not jump into solution after identifying the topics (as typically done during retrospectives)
  • Ensure the next target is actionable
  • Ensure the team agrees upon the next review date
  • The criteria should be good enough to ensure the verification of goal completion
  • We added the action items on our scrum board, so the status of each action item was highly visible
  • Once all the “next steps” are completed, verify the goal is actually met
  • Do not forget to move on to other goals on the same theme

Recovering programmer, Agile software developer & coach

Posted in Agile, Lean Tagged with: , ,

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