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Small Controlled Experiments

Small Controlled Experiments

http://verraes.net

The project was of to a bad start: an inherited legacy codebase, a waterfall contract, and a projected loss. The promise of Kaizen or Continuous Improvement seemed very appealing. But when we tried to incorporate this into our process, it didn’t catch on. Biweekly retrospectives didn’t seem to expose any problems we could improve upon. The ceremonies we tried, like Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycles, added too much overhead. We were doing something wrong.

Continuous Improvement implies that you know exactly where to focus your efforts. Like scientists, we started to experiment, without deciding upfront what we expected the outcome to be. The rules? Make every experiment as small as possible. No meetings, no consensus, no cumbersome evaluation process. We let the results speak for themselves. This talk explores the successes and failures of a team that went from survival mode to learning mode over the course of a year.

Mathias Verraes

October 03, 2014
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  1. small
    controlled
    experiments
    @mathiasverraes

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  2. small
    uncontrolled
    experiments
    @mathiasverraes

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  3. Mathias Verraes
    Independent Consultant
    Value Object Comm.V
    Student of Systems
    Meddler of Models
    Labourer of Legacy
    verraes.net

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  4. Fitness landscape

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  5. Continuous
    Improvement

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  6. "When changing teams or organizations, the
    trick is not to try and push them out of their
    current behavior. (...) A better idea is to
    change parameters in the environment so
    that their current situation becomes
    unstable and disappears all by itself."
    4 Jurgen Appelo6
    6 Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders

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  7. Retrospectives are too slow

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  8. Unproductive pressure to
    improve

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  9. Daily
    Two minutes, after standup

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  10. Brainstorm rules
    "Yes, and... "
    Divergence
    Convergence7
    7 "Thinking in New Boxes", Alan Iny & Luc de Brabandere

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  11. Avoid upfront consensus
    "A meeting is where ideas go to die"
    Experiments over opinions

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  12. "If we have data, let's look at
    data. If all we have are
    opinions, let's go with mine."
    4 Jim Barksdale

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  13. Avoid upfront expectations
    Expectations determine outcomes

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  14. Low impact
    Small, cheap, reversible, low-risk

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  15. No backlog
    Backlogs kill motivation

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  16. Timeline
    Stickies

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  17. Guarantee veto
    Everybody must be heard

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  18. Measure
    selectively & intentionally
    Avoid optimising for the metrics

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  19. Accept uncertainty
    Non-scientific
    Exposes invisible problems

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  20. Accept gut feeling
    Emotional response is fine

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  21. Accept failed experiments
    Welcome failures as new data points

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  22. Kaizen Mind
    The urgency to improve

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  23. Climate of Doubt
    Assume everything is broken and fixable

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  24. "If an idea is obviously bad,
    find a quick way to test it,
    because if it's not bad,
    then it's really interesting."
    4 Kent Beck

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  25. Experiment
    Deliver
    one story a day

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  26. Experiment
    Atomically scoped
    stories

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  27. Experiment
    Start every story
    in pair

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  28. Experiment
    Testers deploy
    independently

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  29. Experiment
    Core Protocols

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  30. Experiment
    Syncing physical
    boards

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  31. If it's not
    on a wall or a board,
    it's not visual.

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  32. Experiment
    Measure by hand

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  33. Experiment
    Hide the estimate
    from the board

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  34. Experiment
    No more
    sprint deadlines

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  35. Experiment
    No interrupts after
    lunch

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  36. Experiment
    Vizualize cost of
    interrupts

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  37. Experiment
    Wall of
    Technical Debt8
    8 http://verraes.net/2013/07/managed-technical-debt/

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  38. Use experiments to
    detect problems

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  39. @mathiasverraes
    http://verraes.net/2014/03/small-controlled-experiments/
    http://verraes.net/workshops

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