How to have them, which tools to use, and why they are crucial to your team's health.
Kaizen is a Japanese term that stands for continuous improvement.
In business, it is a philosophy that sees productivity improvements as a gradual and methodical process. This approach was born in the late 1940s, and became popular as a cornerstone of The Toyota Way.
It was not invented in Japan, though.
As part of the Marshall Plan after World War II, United States brought in experts to help with the rebuilding of Japanese industry. These experts were also tasked with improving Japanese management skills, and developed a 10-hour training program that was rapidly adopted within the private industry.
This program was titled Improvement in Four Steps, or, in Japanese, Kaizen eno Yon Dankai.
🧘 Kaizen and Retrospectives
The Kaizen philosophy is often represented by a cycle, which should look familiar to anyone working with lean principles today. The late stage of each iteration is used to check results from previous actions and act on these findings to improve the process.
This step takes different names in different industries (e.g. NASA calls it Pause and Learn). In software, we usually call it retrospective.
This article covers:
🎯 What is a Retrospective — and how it differs from post-mortems and similar practices.
🔍 How to have a Retrospective — four fundamental steps, specific frameworks and formats.
🗓️ When to have a Retrospective — the different between short and long retros, and how to apply them to projects and people.
🔨 Tools — the four best tools to hold retros remotely or in-person.
📚 Case studies — from successful companies like Intercom and Spotify, and direct experiences from members of the community.
Let’s dive in 👇
💬 Join the Community
Before we talk about Retrospectives, let me spend a few words on the Refactoring community, and why I think you should join it.
Three months since I launched it, it is the part of Refactoring that I am the most proud of. It is also where I spend most of my time — helping a tight-knit group of 120+ CTOs, Managers and Engineers connect with each other and move forward with their goals.
You can get a feeling of what it looks like by watching this short introductory video 👇
Here is what others have been saying about it:
Joining the refactoring community have been my best investment of the year. Luca and the community members are awesome.
— Emmanuel, Tech Lead at Arolla
The Refactoring community amplifies the wisdom Luca provides in his written work by continuing the conversation. I really enjoy reading the discussion threads.
— Zach, Senior Software Engineer at Amazon
I really enjoy the virtual exchanges of ideas and the weekly live sessions. And I appreciate the spirit of candor and trust that is part of this community—folks asking important questions and getting good help.
— Matt, CEO at Sema
The community is exclusive to premium members of Refactoring.
This was a tough choice but is essential to keeping the quality high, avoiding spam, and making sure everyone is committed to participating.
If you are a free member and would like to have access, consider subscribing below. I would love to have you on board! 🚢