Show Your Value as an Agilist Using the Relentless Improvement Cycle

This is the cycle I use for all my work as an Agilist – whether as a Scrum Master, Release Train Engineer, or Agile Coach to track the improvement work you’re doing for your team, Program, or Portfolio.

More generally, this cycle works well for any work where you’re trying to delight customers without a strict requirement document – virtually any working environment!

Why “Relentless?”

I intentionally use the word “relentless” to describe this cycle, rather than the more commonly used “continuous”. “Continuous” has an implied passiveness about it, whereas “relentless” has an association of active, intentional action.

I think of “continuous” like a river passively flowing; “relentless” is a kayaker actively paddling toward a destination, regardless of the current.

Main Benefits

This cycle addresses several overlooked parts of delivering value to users:

  • Communicating with users: Steps 1 & 4 ensure a bi-directional flow of communication directly with end users. To properly implement this cycle, you must establish a way to both receive feedback and communicate changes out to your users. You can’t just sit in an ivory tower, doing what you think is best for the user.
  • Turning feedback into action: Step 2 explicitly calls out the hard work of turning messy user feedback into tactical actions
  • Recognition that these are small experiments:
  • Connecting user feedback to improvements: All too often I would hear users complain that they take too many surveys in their corporate environment, and they don’t feel like the surveys are valuable. If surveys are a part of your “receive feedback” strategy, executing on this cycle can help you communicate to your users that the changes you made were a direct result from survey feedback, proactively addressing the concern that survey feedback doesn’t make an impact.

Turn These Steps into your Kanban Columns

These 4 steps can become the steps in your process flow. By making them the headers of your Kanban columns, you can now visualize all the small experiments you’re working on, tracking them from feedback all the way through communication back to your users.

Wrapping Up

This is the overview of the cycle. I’ll be deep diving into each of the 4 steps in subsequent posts, giving example actions you can take, why the step is important, and common pitfalls you want to avoid.

Follow up blogs:

Step 1: Receive Feedback

Step 2: Turn Feedback into Action Items (coming soon!)

Step 3: Execute on Action Items (coming soon!)

Step 4: Report Back to Users (coming soon!)