Two Pollo Tacos

The Ideal Tacos

The world’s economy is suffering a tremendous shock. Every other email that pops into my email box screams crisis. Businesses are experiencing a crisis of cost containment driven by falling revenues coupled with a looming debt crisis. Gallup Research is sponsoring a webinar on May 7th to talk about the problems being caused by rising health care costs. The bottom line, every budget manager is going to be pushed very hard to manage their budget closely, spend as judiciously as possible, and deliver the most value possible. The noise level about cost issues in the computing media, suggests a strong need for integrating lean concepts into agile approaches. Many organizations falsely believe that they are less sensitive to cost considerations. The IDEAL model provides a useful framework for finding ways to generate more value and to prove it.  A quick definition of IDEAL:

Initiate is the starting point for the process. Define the goals, scope of improvements, and the definition of done. Most (should be all) agile teams will be performing some form of process improvement based on outcomes of their retrospectives. This is wonderful but rarely sufficient, true change often needs to involve several teams linked in a value stream.

Diagnose is fairly self-explanatory. The goal of this step is to identify and qualify potential improvement opportunities. Establishing what is wrong with any flow of work is often fraught with anxiety. The process requires assessment and benchmarking. In low trust or high-risk scenarios, formal approaches that are externally facilitated should be considered. The Diagnose step builds a backlog.

Establish a plan to implement the improvement opportunities defined in the previous step. Simply put, pull an opportunity from the prioritized backlog, determine how to break the work down and define an approach to solving the problem. Repeat based on capacity. For large scale changes, this step can leverage ideas from the Scaled Agile Framework’s PI planning event. In more nimble organizations while other organizations might use a Kaizen event or lean canvas to plan improvements. 

Action, like diagnose, is easily defined. Based on the approach established, fix the plan.  Note that continuous or periodic retrospection is an invaluable tool to make sure the improvement being delivered stays on track and meets the needs in the real world.

Learn from what has and has not been accomplished. Feedback from evaluating a change qualitatively and through collaborative retrospection is a powerful tool for improving the improvement process.  

The IDEAL model is a structure for approaching process improvement across teams in an integrated manner. This frightens some and can elicit the cry of “not agile.” In the next few entries, we will review approaches to each step to “agilify” IDEAL.

Remember, we are planning the next book in our re-read Saturday Series and need to help us narrow the field to one book.  The four books we are trying to narrow down are:

  • Tame Your Workflow (Tendon and Doiron)
  • Great Big Agile (Dalton)
  • Fixing Your Scrum (Ripley and Miller)
  • The Lean Startup (Ries)

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