Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kaizen Antipatterns or You suck at getting better

I have noticed that people have a bad tendency of blaming Agile for them not being able to do their jobs right. Take Kaizen for example, most of the teams that tell me they are practicing it have no idea what they are doing. They think that Kaizen events are a waste of time because they sit around and bitch for a few hours rather than actually trying to come up with a strategy to get the job done right.
Here are a few smells I think you should watch out for when running such an event:
  • Mistaking Kaizen for Kaikaku (rapid, large, revolutionary change). In my experience, unless the project team has influence across the organization, these plans collapse under their own weight.
  • Tyring to fix too many things at once.
  • Not producing concrete measurable action items and assigning them to the team.
  • Conducting Kaizen events like a therapy session. During Kaizen events, there are opportunities to explore "unreasonable or excessive strain", which often effects team members on an emotional level. The goal of Kaizen is to eliminate the source of the "strain", not to "heal" the teams psychie.
  • Identifying a person or team member as the root cause of the problem.
  • Allowing subjective moderators to conduct the events.
  • Use Kaizen as a platform to push agendas instead of solve problems.
  • Kaizen events take place long after the problem is identified.
  • Not understanding Kaizen metaphors for Software Development.
  • "Not asking for the Check" - This is when the team does not follow up on the Kaizen action items.

No comments: