What is a Continuous Improvement Board?
A Continuous Improvement Board is a type of “information radiator” that makes visible options for potential improvements, along with information about progress, such as the results of experiments that have been started in the interest of continuous improvement.
What’s the Benefit?
A continuous improvement board has the same primary benefit as a Kanban Board or a Task Board: to make work visible. An additional benefit of a Continuous Improvement Board is that it sheds light on things that an organization might otherwise easily lose sight of, such as outcomes from Program Retrospectives or other gatherings where areas of cross-team or organizational improvement often surface, often with little to no follow-up.
There are a couple of answers when it comes to a timeframe in association with a Continuous Improvement Board:
- When to create a Continuous Improvement Board: Any time that a team, a working group, or an entire organization has a need to surface and track progress against potential improvements
- When to update a Continuous Improvement Board: Updates typically happen on a particular cadence, for instance, after each Program Retrospective
The attendees who would potentially be present when creating or updating a Continuous Improvement Board are much the same as those who would be present at a Program Retrospective:
- Team members (often one or two people from a team, not the entire team)
- Managers (at differing levels of seniority, depending on the context)
- Stakeholders (often representing business functions such as DevSecOps, Release Management, and Marketing, to name a few)
- Organization or team goals and objectives
- Cross-functional considerations such as compliance or policy directives
- Outcomes/decisions from gatherings such as Program Retrospectives
- A set of potential areas for improvement
- Hypotheses that explore potential cause and effect related to one or more improvements
- Identification of one or more experiments that can be run to realize one or more improvements
Preparing for Success
Before setting up a Continuous Improvement Board, consider the following:
- Solicit/gather inputs on potential improvements. Possible sources include:
- Patterns that emerge from more than one team-level retrospectives (Sprint Retrospectives)
- Outcomes from multi-team retrospectives (“Program Retrospectives”)
- Employee survey results
- Organizational meetings
- Decide on a format for the Continuous Improvement Board
- Decide on one or more physical or virtual locations for the Continuous Improvement Board
- Decide on a cadence to update the Continuous Improvement Board, including:
- Adding new items
- Updating what’s happening with existing items
- Evaluating the results of experiments
Let’s say that a Continuous Improvement Board has columns such as those described below, from left to right:
- Pain Points/Opportunities
- Selected Pain Points/Opportunities
- Experiment Ideas
- In Progress Experiments
- Experiments Needing Discussion
- Experiments to “Amplify” are those where the results align with expectations/have a positive net effect
- Experiments to “Dampen” are those where the results are not in line with expectations
On an agreed-upon cadence, the group of people that manages the Continuous Improvement Board updates the applicable items on the board, and makes sure that others are aware of where to find the Continuous Improvement Board.