Agile Kaizen – Improvement Beyond Retrospectives

Ángel Medinilla


According to our personal experience after coaching several hundred teams over five years, a great number of retrospectives are seriously flawed. “Pluses and Deltas” have become a common way of cargo-cult Agile, and on very rare occasions the teams have the will and the power to go beyond their close environment and push the envelope of continuous improvement through the whole company.

One of the evident reasons is that the Organization is a complex system, and most of the impediments that the team is facing will have several influences from other parts of the system: not enough budget for new tools, not allowed to take enough time for learning, no understanding of the development process by sales people, unreasonable terms arbitrarily set by project managers…

Another reason is that Agile champions don’t fully understand the reach of continuous improvement, and many times they aim for an isolated “black box” team environment that leads to suboptimization. And yet another reason is that teams, very often suffering form a too technical approach to human aspects, don’t know how to promote improvement through the organization by effectively managing a change initiative.

This tutorial will show how even the smallest impediments detected by the team have deep meanings to the intrinsic fabric of the organization, and will give several tools and frameworks to design a Kaizen plan that goes beyond retrospectives. Some of the topics that will be discussed include:

  • How Kaizen goes beyond process improvement and should include dimensions as product improvement or team improvement
  • How a retrospective should not be over if a plan for improvement is not crafted (who, what, when, how)
  • The need of discipline, momentum and constant pushing, or why the Scrum Master and the Agile Manager are key to Continuous Improvement
  • How Corporate Culture influences Continuous Improvement, and how to promote a Culture of ownership, care and responsibility that fosters Improvement and Innovation
  • How Change Management frameworks and tools can help teams, Scrum Masters, Agile Managers and Evangelists to unleash the power of Kaizen in their companies



Ángel Medinilla, Agile Coach and trainer, working for companies like Ericsson, Vodafone, Electronic Arts, EADS, Tui Travel … Agile Alliance Member, Scrum Alliance Member, Management 3.0 Licensed Trainer. Author, “Agile Management: Leadership on an Agile Environment” (Springer, Working on second book, “Agile Kaizen”.