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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.

Mar 13, 2020

This week on the show, Dan Neumann is joined by Jorgen Hesselberg! Jorgen is the author of the new book, Unlocking Agility: An Insider’s Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation, as well as the co-founder of Comparative Agility — a leading Agile assessment and continuous improvement program.


This episode will be focused on data-driven continuous improvement. Jorgen shares the main reasons to use data to drive continuous improvement, some of the main ways to gather data (and why these methods are used), and important pieces to keep in mind when implementing changes to your team and organization through the data you collect.


Jorgen has a lot to say about this topic as a co-founder of a leading Agile assessment and continuous improvement program so you definitely don’t want to miss his insights and key takeaways!


Key Takeaways

Why use data for continuous improvement?

Data can help guide you and your teams by asking better questions as well as shining a light where there otherwise would be darkness

Helps you reflect on what you’re doing and what you can do better; data helps guide these conversations

Optimizes workflow by making the feedback loop faster so you can take action more quickly and therefore see results faster

As a change leader, data can help you find out where you can be of most use to help your teams

What are some ways to gather data for continuous improvement? And why are these methods used?

Objective data (defects in production, trends, etc.)

Surveys, even though very subjective, can also be very useful because they can hit some important patterns of ways of working (i.e. psychological safety was discovered through a survey) and highlight other points that wouldn’t naturally come up in conversations because they create anonymity and give everyone an equal voice

Structured interviews

Gathering data — whether it’s through structured interviews, subjective data, or collecting data electronically — helps to shorten feedback loops

What is important to keep in mind when using data for continuous improvement?

Subjective, objective, and quantitative data are all great — as long as the data helps you and your team ask better questions, that is the main goal

As a coach or change leader, it is important to ask meaningful questions that highlight the issues and challenges your teams are facing and to give them a voice

Don’t implement changes all at once that you have gathered from the data because you and your teams will become overwhelmed and end up making no changes (i.e. because you are diluting the focus and creating confusion; people don’t have time to adjust too many different things at once)

An important facet to making change based off data is to change at a rate where you can see it ripple through the organization

Combine subjective data with objective data

Measure technical debt simply by asking your developers

Listen to data early on and refresh it periodically to stay ahead of the curve

Don’t continually ask your developers how they’re doing — they’ll get annoyed!

Understand what ‘normal’ benchmarks are for your niche

Data isn’t going to give you answers but it is going to help you ask better questions

Use data for information, not evaluation


Mentioned in this Episode:

Jorgen Hesselberg

Unlocking Agility: An Insider's Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation, by Jorgen Hesselberg

Comparative Agility

The Agile Manifesto

“Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams,” by Amy Edmonson

Mood Marbles

Daniel H. Pink Books

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 58: “How to Get Past the Two-Week Shelf Life of Your New Year’s Resolution”


Jorgen Hesselberg’s Book Pick:

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, by Nicholas A. Christakis


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