We all know that any time you start something new in an organization it takes time to make it stick, but if teams and leaders find value, they will work to keep a program flourishing. The same is true when you implement a Measure and Grow or Continuous Improvement Program within your organization. It takes planning and effort to get it started, but the rewards will outweigh the efforts in the end.
At AgilityHealth®, our Strategists work with organizations every day to help them set up Measure and Grow programs across their teams that will succeed based on the company’s needs and goals. Through their experiences, we have noticed some consistent patterns across our customers, both commercial and government, for-and non-profit. Understanding these patterns can help you set up a program that’s right for your organization.
Before we jump into the patterns, let’s review what a Measure and Grow or Continuous Improvement Program is. Simply stated, it’s how you will measure your progress toward business agility. When we look at how Enterprise Business Agility was defined by Sally Elatta, AgilityHealth Founder and CEO, and Evan Leybourn, Founder of the Business Agility Institute, you can see why business agility is so important.
Business Agility is the ability to adapt to change, learn and pivot, deliver at speed, and thrive in a competitive market.
Sally Elatta, CEO AgilityHealth and Evan Leybourn, Founder, Business Agility Institute
To improve business agility, organizations need to maintain their competitive edge, and in the process, make sure that healthy teams remain a priority. Creating a Measure and Grow Program that allows for a consistent assessment of team health, performance, and maturity, along with easy-to-build roadmaps for growth, is an excellent place to begin.
Patterns to Follow to Create a Successful Measure and Grow Program
- Define how you will measure success.
Bertrand Dupperin said, “Tell me how you will measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave.” This is true of our teams, our team members, and our leaders. After this success criteria have been defined, allow the team members to measure themselves in a safe environment where they can be open and honest about their maturity with a neutral facilitator, using standardized questions across all teams.
- Provide a way to help teams grow after you measure them.
“Measurement without action is worthless data.” (Thanks, Sally, for another great bit of wisdom.) When you set up your Measure and Grow program, make sure it includes a way for teams to learn and mature, as the process of actioning on data is very powerful.
Some of the common paths we see organizations implement are:
- Dojo teams—high-performing teams paired with new and/or immature teams to help them learn
- Pre-defined learning paths for teams using instructor-led or virtual learning
- Intentional learning options for teams through Communities of Practice
- Pairing/Mentorship/Accountability Partners
- Tie the importance of measurement and growth to the organization’s goals.
“Why are we taking the time to do this?” This is a common question that teams and leaders ask when we are starting Measure and Grow programs. They feel that the time reserved for an Inspect and Adapt session focused on measurement and growth could maybe instead be used to tie up those last few story points or test cases when in reality there is a corporate objective to mature the teams. Be sure to share these kinds of goals with your teams and managers so they understand why this is important to the organization.
- Provide a maturity roadmap that takes the subjectivity out of measurement.
When teams are answering questions related to their health, performance, and maturity, each team member will have an idea of what “good” looks like, but without a shared understanding of “good”, one team member’s “good” might be an 8 on the rating scale, their teammate’s might be a 7, someone else’s might be a 10, and so on. When you share a common maturity roadmap to provide context for your assessment questions, your results will be less subjective.
- Measure at multiple levels so that you can correlate the results throughout the organization.
When we just look at maturity from the team perspective, we get one view of an organization. When we look at maturity from the leadership and stakeholder perspectives, we get another view. When we look at both together—the sandwich model—we get a three-dimensional view and can start to surmise cause and effect. Rolling results up into product lines, portfolios, or across the entire organization gives a clearer picture of how an organization is performing overall.
- Minimize competing priorities and platforms.
Almost all teams, regardless of the organization, share that there are too many systems, too many priorities, too many everything (except maybe pizza slices …). Be sure to schedule your measurement and retrospective time when the team is taking a natural break in their work. Teams should take the time to do a strategic retrospective on how they are working together at the end of every PI during Inspect and Adapt, so this could be the ideal time to focus on your measurement and growth initiatives.
- Engage leaders in the process.
When measurement and growth becomes a “we” exercise and not a “you” exercise, then there is a sense of trust that is built between the teams and their leaders. Inevitably teams are going to ask leaders for assistance in removing obstacles. If leaders are on board from the start and are expecting this, and they start removing the obstacles without resistance, this creates an atmosphere of psychological safety where teams can be honest about what they need and leaders can be honest about what they expect.
- Remember this is all change, and change takes time.
Roy T. Bennett said, “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It takes time, perseverance, and some uncomfortable conversations to change an organization and help it to grow. But in the end, it’s worth doing when the end results are stable, mature, high-performing teams and enhanced business agility.
Setting up a Measure and Grow or Continuous Improvement Program isn’t without its struggles, but for the organizations and teams that put the time and effort into doing it right, the rewards far outweigh the work. Learn more about developing a program of your own by reading this blog, or booking time to speak with an expert at AgilityHealth.