When setting up your CI team, the goal is to have the right people available at the right time. One way of doing this is to apply the concept of blended teams.
The main point of working with blended teams is having access to a varied mix of people with different and varied capabilities, that can effectively and efficiently support the organization. A blended team should be set up so that input from all relevant disciplines is available and usable, with minimal waste.
The core team should be comprised of team members that work together for a prolonged period of time, not just when the improvement tasks are planned for execution. This means that certain roles related to specific tasks aren’t necessarily part of the core team, such as a legal (GDPR) advisor, or a consultant specialized in search or the fulfilment process. The idea is that these roles can be added temporarily, only when they are needed and add value, and only for as long as they are needed.
To get the best and most up-to-date knowledge in the team, and stimulate a fresh outside-in perspective, external team members play an important role. Specific external domain experts can be added temporarily, but it’s sensible to reserve at least one or two spots in the core team for external members. These can include an experience data analyst, a UX specialist, and a business or strategy consultant.
A properly set up, feedback driven, blended CI team has the potential to bring purpose to the entire organization, while at the same time break down walls between different teams and departments.
In the context of blended teams and CI, talking about a team often refers to a virtual team with at least a few members allocated to multiple tasks or projects. This makes correct planning and having efficient processes in place all the more important. All members have to respect both the main events of the process as well as each other’s agendas.
Certain team members may need to get accustomed to the required mindset. One that’s always focused on business value. But with CI the end goal is to reduce waste and increase customer value, so they have to be able to put their own personal preferences aside, regardless if this concerns their favourite development framework, personal aversion against sticky headers, or a long-cherished wish for Slack as a communication tool. These preferences can be considered of course, but only if a case can be made that shows, or at least predicts, measurable business value.
A properly functioning blended CI team demands an open, respectful, and constructive atmosphere. Asking how any new project or initiative will lead to increased conversion and business value should be perfectly normal and accepted in any conversation. Constructive criticism needs to be nurtured.
Last but not least, team members should be prepared to spend some of their time on advocating their work within the organization. The main task of the product owner will be talking to all the stakeholders, finding out their concerns, motivating them to provide feedback, in addition to making successes visible to everyone. Other team members should also make themselves available if people comment on the program, have any questions, or want to bring an important issue to the team’s attention. This ensures the CI team becomes firmly embedded in the organization.
Having a genuine interest in people’s daily struggles, showing commitment to solve these issues, and sharing both successes and failures, is what makes the sum of the team’s efforts so valuable. Simply looking at all the individual improvements combined doesn’t tell the complete story in this case.
The first requirement is a sense of urgency. Does the organization truly feel the need to improve? There should be a genuine ambition to:
Are you ready to empower a team and start improving your organization from the bottom up?
A good approach is to start with a survey among customers and employees before the scope is set. You can limit the questions to customer experience and share the survey among both customers and employees, or focus on general improvements, both internally and externally. Make sure to mix closed questions, so you can measure the trend over time, with open questions that provide concrete input on what to do.
Start by defining the first version of the process, but be prepared to iterate and constantly make improvements too. Some things to consider:
Consider the optimal team size for this approach. In addition to setting up a core CI team also think about if and how you’ll reserve time for other resources that are needed to execute the improvement tasks. A properly set up CI team has two layers:
Reserving and enabling the planning of resources that are in high demand, and at short notice, will be challenging. As you progress you’ll be able to better predict these needs and find a way to reserve resources ahead of time, or create a special pool of resources dedicated to the CI program.
Coming back to the 4 key values in Kaizen and explain their place in ‘Feedback Driven Continous Improvement’
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