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18 July 2011

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DeanG

But...but...I feel better that we agree to care about change so we must be changing for the better, right? ;-)

Jim Benson

@deang - Of course. Continuous improvement means we need to care about change. But there is a line where we go looking for changes that may not really be there. It is like how we always want to grow, but unhealthy growth is a cancer.

We want healthy continuous improvement.

Aaron Day

Is looking for aliens such a bad thing? We have folks at SETI looking for aliens and applying non-trivial amounts of effort. So far they have come up empty handed, but any odd squeak, beep, or ping gets extra checking and fiddling. Sure, they haven't found any aliens yet, but does that mean it is a complete waste? I'm sure plenty of science has occurred in signal processing and perhaps other benefits.

Along side continuous improvement is the idea of fail fast. Outside the realm of utopia there are always going to be ways to improve. As long as we do not go too far down the road of error (fail fast), tweaking processes can be beneficial. We can learn better what doesn't work when a change fails. But some otherwise good enough process may not change if we do not investigate. It might be a short term loss or it might be a gain, but we won't know unless you try.

I suggest keeping your eyes pealed looking for aliens in your retrospectives. Sure most will be swamp gas from a weather balloon [that] was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus and you can quickly dismiss it. Quickly recognize it was a failure and revert to the prior process. You can't continuously improve if you don't continuously tweak.

Jim Benson

@aaron - Certainly if you continuously improve you continuously tweak by creating small changes that are easy to both implement and back off of if they don't work. What I'm saying here is that sometimes people become fixated on finding certain things and improvement frenzy is very possible.

This leads to things like six sigma waste witch hunts where people fixate so much on finding and destroying waste, that they also ignore the humanity of the workplace.

Continuous improvement is not necessarily about finding inefficiencies as much as it is about finding ways to make the best workplace for the people in it.

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Jim Benson is a collaborative management consultant. He is CEO of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy which combines Lean, Agile Management and Social Media principles to develop sustainable teams.

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