Top 5 Reasons Why Improvement Efforts Fail

Track: Agile
Skill Level: Intermediate
Room: Room A406-407
Time Slot: Tue 2/16, 1:00 PM
Tags: technical debt , agile

This is my story of lessons learned on why improvement efforts fail… I had a great team. We were disciplined about best practices and spent tons of time on improvements. Then I watched my team slam into a brick wall. We brought down production three times in a row, then couldn’t ship again for a year.

Despite our best efforts with CI, unit testing, design reviews, and code reviews, we lost our ability to understand the system. We thought our problems were caused by technical debt building up in the code base, but we were wrong. We failed to improve, because we didn’t solve the right problems. Eventually, we turned our project around, but with a lot of tough lessons along the way.

To learn, we need a feedback loop. To improve, we need a feedback loop with a goal. There’s five different ways our project feedback loop can break:

  • Broken Target - Our definition of “better” is broken.
  • Broken Visibility - We don’t see the pain, so we take no action.
  • Broken Clarity - We don’t understand what’s causing the pain.
  • Broken Awareness - We don’t know how to avoid the pain.
  • Broken Focus - We see the pain, but our attention is focused on something else.

Find out how to repair the broken feedback loops on your software project by learning from my mistakes.

Janelle Klein

Janelle is author of the book, Idea Flow Learning Framework, a strategy for implementing a data-driven feedback loop to optimize developer experience and software predictability.

As a technical mentor, Janelle focuses on teaching thinking and decision-making skills instead of teaching best practices. Her philosophy is that the key to good development skills is learning how to ask the right questions. She is dedicated to supporting grassroots community mentorship and is the founder of Software Mastery Circle.

Janelle has been working with New Iron for the last 10 years, as a developer, consultant, and now as CTO. Her development background is specialized in data-intensive analytic systems from financial core processors to factory automation, supply chain optimization and statistical process control (SPC). Her consulting work has focused on continuous delivery infrastructure, database automation, test automation strategies and helping companies identify and solve their biggest problems.