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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Dec 4, 2020

Dan Neumann is joined by Senior Agile Coach at AgileThought, Adam Ulery, to discuss the concept of Agile forcing continuous improvement.


Does agile “force” continuous improvement? What does this mean? Is this inherently negative or positive? How does agile implement continuous improvement as a natural consequence? Dan and Adam address these questions and share their tips on how to leverage agile to maximize your continuous improvement in all levels of your organization!


Key Takeaways

What does “Agile forcing continuous improvement” mean?

Agile “forces” continuous improvement because continuous improvement is inherently baked into agility

“Force,” not as coercion, but as a natural outcome of adopting an agile mindset

The frequent use of feedback loops is built into the way you work in an agile environment, “forcing” continuous improvement

How Agile implements continuous improvement as a natural consequence:

Regardless of the framework, there is a feedback loop with the goal being to deliver as much value as possible to the end consumer

Inspecting and adapting the product and the process at regular intervals

Agile encourages and fosters teams to be able to talk about things transparently and openly and not see impediments as an indictment of their performance

Through failing fast (i.e. learning fast through your failures or mistakes) the team will continue to improve

Tips for leveraging Agile’s continuous improvement:

Address the fear of speaking up by teaching leadership roles on how to make the environment safe for the delivery teams

Acknowledge that the environment may have not been safe in the past but that changes are being implemented and it will be different going forward

The shorter the feedback loop, the shorter the risk (so if something doesn’t go right, you’re not that far from recovery)

Deliver early and often, get the feedback loops working so that teams can course-correct as they learn

It’s important to get to a point where it is understood that quick learning is what the team and leadership is looking for (and that failure is not failure; it’s learning)

Leadership needs to be supportive of the mindset shift regarding quick learning/failing fast so that the team can feel encouraged in exhibiting these behaviors

If you are a leader who wants to begin to make their team more comfortable with quick learning you need to educate yourself, believe it, communicate with your team, be transparent that you’re still learning and growing, set your expectations about what you’d like to see, and call out real examples as they happen so that the team can begin to recognize it

As a leader, display vulnerability and acknowledge that you have not done the best with communicating in the past but that it will be different, going forward 

Model the behaviors you want to see as a leader

You need to create safety and support your team in order to thrive and increase performance


Mentioned in this Episode:

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, by Simon Sinek

Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results, by Christina R. Wodtke

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, by John Doerr


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