ALU

organizational culture

What Do Agile Leaders Do?

I’ve had this ongoing discussion with a few of my colleagues who say that the term “Agile leader” is an oxymoron — that the ideal organization is a bunch of Scrum Teams and not much else. Even in an ideal world, I disagree, and here’s why in a nutshell: I’ve never seen, and have not even heard of, an organization that was successful in their pursuit of agility who did not have a strong leader guiding the vision for what the organization can become, motivating people to achieve that vision, nurturing the pursuit of that vision, and protecting, when necessary, the people who want that vision from the people who don’t. 

The reason for this is simple and is as old as civilization. As Nicolo Machiavelli observed, 

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How Not to Fail an Agile Transformation

It’s all too easy for teams to drop their Agile-related efforts after a little while since their initial training. Don’t we all have a natural tendency to want to go back to how things used to be?

But doing so does, obviously, render all improvement and change efforts useless. What do you do then?

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How to Be Successful With Agile in Any Culture

7 Years ago I wrote two famous blog posts – "How to Make Your Culture Work" and "How to Make Your Culture Work with Agile, Kanban & Software Craftsmanship." In this blog post, you will learn my updated advice and practical experiences on exactly how to do this. The focus is on how to create the greatest success within a culture bubble while respecting the host organizational culture.

If you are interested in evolving your organizational culture, please read: How to Change Your Organizational Culture.

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Hands-on Agile: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 [Webinar]

The fourth Hands-on Agile webinar addressed 12 reasons why “Agile” is not the quick fix for dysfunctional organizations — from the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome to outdated technology stacks to the lack of a failure culture.

Hands-on Agile Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

The video of the webinar is available now:

Note: If the browser will not play the playlist automatically, click here to watch the replay of the webinar Agile failure patterns 2.0 directly on Youtube.

Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0: The Episodes

    Webinar #4: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 by Hands-on Agile
  • The first episode covers the lack of a vision. (Why is the organization pursuing to become Agile? The organization is not transparent about vision and strategy hence the teams are hindered to become self-organizing. Or let us put it in a different way, Alice-in-Wonderland style: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”)
  • The second episode covers the question whether “Agile” is a fad or trend. (The middle management as well as team members do not embrace an Agile mindset or abandon it quietly, believing it is a management fad that will go away sooner or later.)
  • The third episode covers projects, budgets, and stage-gates. (My budget, my feature: The organization tries to become Agile without switching from a project-based to a product-based development approach. The process continues to be ruled by (annual) budgets, and risk-mitigation by committee is still the norm.)
  • The fourth episode covers the lack of a failure culture. (Teams, therefore, do not move out of their comfort zones but instead play safe. Perhaps, replace “culture of failure” with “culture of learning to get back up again after falling” is a better match.)
  • The fifth episode covers the efficiency and utilization focus. (The management still believes in its traditional role: telling people what to do, how to do things, and making sure everyone is busy at all times. Therefore, engineers are considered to be too valuable to waste their time with user interview.)
  • The sixth episode covers the convoy of silos, resulting in the organization moving at the speed of the slowest to change silo. (The organization is not optimized for a rapid build-test-learn culture, and thus departments are moving at different speed levels. The resulting friction caused is likely to equalize previous Agile gains.)
  • The seventh episode covers the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome. (Not everyone embraces “Agile” enthusiastically — particularly not those who will lose opportunities when self-organization becomes the norm, and the pursuit of personal agendas turns into a distant memory from the past.)
  • The eighth episode covers prevailing Taylorism and the resulting micromanagement. (A perceived loss of control at the management level leads to micro-management. Or the organization is practicing “Agile light:” The management abandons self-organization the moment a critical problem appears and forms “task forces” instead.)
  • The ninth episode covers misaligned incentives. (The incentives of teams on the one side and stakeholders or individual team members on the other side are contradicting each other — which can easily result in a moral hazard. For example, the sales department tries to save the quarterly bonus by “requiring” new features they hope will bring new revenue or sells non-existing products.)
  • The tenth episode covers outdated technology stacks. (Engineering teams are not free to choose “their” tech stack but have to work with what other people provide to them. Being forced to work with inferior technology significantly reduces the teams” willingness to accept accountability for their work.)
  • The eleventh episode covers team building issues. (For example, moving people among teams upon short notice. Or teams are not adequately staffed, for example, scrum master positions are not filled, and product owners have to serve two roles at the same time. Or teams are too small and hence not cross-functional. Or not involving teams in the recruiting process.)
  • The twelveth episode covers inadequate facilities. (A team is not co-located, not working in the same room, but scattered across different floors, or worse, various locations. The work environment is lacking spots for formal and – more important – informal communication: cafeterias, tea kitchens, sofas, etc. Or it requires whiteboards.)

Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches

The Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches e-book is a 236-page collection of articles I have been writing since October 2015. They detail the necessary steps to transition an existing product delivery organization of over 40 people strong to Agile practices.

Original Link

Hands-on Agile: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 [Webinar]

The fourth Hands-on Agile webinar addressed 12 reasons why “Agile” is not the quick fix for dysfunctional organizations — from the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome to outdated technology stacks to the lack of a failure culture.

Hands-on Agile Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

The video of the webinar is available now:

Note: If the browser will not play the playlist automatically, click here to watch the replay of the webinar Agile failure patterns 2.0 directly on Youtube.

Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0: The Episodes

    Webinar #4: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 by Hands-on Agile
  • The first episode covers the lack of a vision. (Why is the organization pursuing to become Agile? The organization is not transparent about vision and strategy hence the teams are hindered to become self-organizing. Or let us put it in a different way, Alice-in-Wonderland style: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”)
  • The second episode covers the question whether “Agile” is a fad or trend. (The middle management as well as team members do not embrace an Agile mindset or abandon it quietly, believing it is a management fad that will go away sooner or later.)
  • The third episode covers projects, budgets, and stage-gates. (My budget, my feature: The organization tries to become Agile without switching from a project-based to a product-based development approach. The process continues to be ruled by (annual) budgets, and risk-mitigation by committee is still the norm.)
  • The fourth episode covers the lack of a failure culture. (Teams, therefore, do not move out of their comfort zones but instead play safe. Perhaps, replace “culture of failure” with “culture of learning to get back up again after falling” is a better match.)
  • The fifth episode covers the efficiency and utilization focus. (The management still believes in its traditional role: telling people what to do, how to do things, and making sure everyone is busy at all times. Therefore, engineers are considered to be too valuable to waste their time with user interview.)
  • The sixth episode covers the convoy of silos, resulting in the organization moving at the speed of the slowest to change silo. (The organization is not optimized for a rapid build-test-learn culture, and thus departments are moving at different speed levels. The resulting friction caused is likely to equalize previous Agile gains.)
  • The seventh episode covers the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome. (Not everyone embraces “Agile” enthusiastically — particularly not those who will lose opportunities when self-organization becomes the norm, and the pursuit of personal agendas turns into a distant memory from the past.)
  • The eighth episode covers prevailing Taylorism and the resulting micromanagement. (A perceived loss of control at the management level leads to micro-management. Or the organization is practicing “Agile light:” The management abandons self-organization the moment a critical problem appears and forms “task forces” instead.)
  • The ninth episode covers misaligned incentives. (The incentives of teams on the one side and stakeholders or individual team members on the other side are contradicting each other — which can easily result in a moral hazard. For example, the sales department tries to save the quarterly bonus by “requiring” new features they hope will bring new revenue or sells non-existing products.)
  • The tenth episode covers outdated technology stacks. (Engineering teams are not free to choose “their” tech stack but have to work with what other people provide to them. Being forced to work with inferior technology significantly reduces the teams” willingness to accept accountability for their work.)
  • The eleventh episode covers team building issues. (For example, moving people among teams upon short notice. Or teams are not adequately staffed, for example, scrum master positions are not filled, and product owners have to serve two roles at the same time. Or teams are too small and hence not cross-functional. Or not involving teams in the recruiting process.)
  • The twelveth episode covers inadequate facilities. (A team is not co-located, not working in the same room, but scattered across different floors, or worse, various locations. The work environment is lacking spots for formal and – more important – informal communication: cafeterias, tea kitchens, sofas, etc. Or it requires whiteboards.)

Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches

The Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches e-book is a 236-page collection of articles I have been writing since October 2015. They detail the necessary steps to transition an existing product delivery organization of over 40 people strong to Agile practices.

Original Link

Hands-on Agile: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 [Webinar]

The fourth Hands-on Agile webinar addressed 12 reasons why “Agile” is not the quick fix for dysfunctional organizations — from the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome to outdated technology stacks to the lack of a failure culture.

Hands-on Agile Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 — May 22nd, 2018

The video of the webinar is available now:

Note: If the browser will not play the playlist automatically, click here to watch the replay of the webinar Agile failure patterns 2.0 directly on Youtube.

Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0: The Episodes

    Webinar #4: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 by Hands-on Agile
  • The first episode covers the lack of a vision. (Why is the organization pursuing to become Agile? The organization is not transparent about vision and strategy hence the teams are hindered to become self-organizing. Or let us put it in a different way, Alice-in-Wonderland style: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”)
  • The second episode covers the question whether “Agile” is a fad or trend. (The middle management as well as team members do not embrace an Agile mindset or abandon it quietly, believing it is a management fad that will go away sooner or later.)
  • The third episode covers projects, budgets, and stage-gates. (My budget, my feature: The organization tries to become Agile without switching from a project-based to a product-based development approach. The process continues to be ruled by (annual) budgets, and risk-mitigation by committee is still the norm.)
  • The fourth episode covers the lack of a failure culture. (Teams, therefore, do not move out of their comfort zones but instead play safe. Perhaps, replace “culture of failure” with “culture of learning to get back up again after falling” is a better match.)
  • The fifth episode covers the efficiency and utilization focus. (The management still believes in its traditional role: telling people what to do, how to do things, and making sure everyone is busy at all times. Therefore, engineers are considered to be too valuable to waste their time with user interview.)
  • The sixth episode covers the convoy of silos, resulting in the organization moving at the speed of the slowest to change silo. (The organization is not optimized for a rapid build-test-learn culture, and thus departments are moving at different speed levels. The resulting friction caused is likely to equalize previous Agile gains.)
  • The seventh episode covers the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome. (Not everyone embraces “Agile” enthusiastically — particularly not those who will lose opportunities when self-organization becomes the norm, and the pursuit of personal agendas turns into a distant memory from the past.)
  • The eighth episode covers prevailing Taylorism and the resulting micromanagement. (A perceived loss of control at the management level leads to micro-management. Or the organization is practicing “Agile light:” The management abandons self-organization the moment a critical problem appears and forms “task forces” instead.)
  • The ninth episode covers misaligned incentives. (The incentives of teams on the one side and stakeholders or individual team members on the other side are contradicting each other — which can easily result in a moral hazard. For example, the sales department tries to save the quarterly bonus by “requiring” new features they hope will bring new revenue or sells non-existing products.)
  • The tenth episode covers outdated technology stacks. (Engineering teams are not free to choose “their” tech stack but have to work with what other people provide to them. Being forced to work with inferior technology significantly reduces the teams” willingness to accept accountability for their work.)
  • The eleventh episode covers team building issues. (For example, moving people among teams upon short notice. Or teams are not adequately staffed, for example, scrum master positions are not filled, and product owners have to serve two roles at the same time. Or teams are too small and hence not cross-functional. Or not involving teams in the recruiting process.)
  • The twelveth episode covers inadequate facilities. (A team is not co-located, not working in the same room, but scattered across different floors, or worse, various locations. The work environment is lacking spots for formal and – more important – informal communication: cafeterias, tea kitchens, sofas, etc. Or it requires whiteboards.)

Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches

The Agile Transition – A Hands-on Guide from the Trenches e-book is a 236-page collection of articles I have been writing since October 2015. They detail the necessary steps to transition an existing product delivery organization of over 40 people strong to Agile practices.

Original Link

How To Change Your Organizational Culture

You will learn How to Change Your Organizational Culture. Yes. How to Change Your Culture. It requires effort and focus. And it is possible. I have done it and leaders around the globe have applied this same information to change their culture. What follows below is an outline of the proven steps. I have also included pointers to supporting resources.

1. Desire for Growth

The starting place for culture change is desire — a powerful urge to create change. Nothing less than this will result in success, so that is the starting place. Anyone interested in shifting culture needs to look inside to see what is driving them and make sure they have the motivation to do the work needed.

I used to subscribe to Kotter’s “Sense of Urgency” and even advocated this. I no longer do. It turns out that urgency is linked to fear and a lower level of psychological safety. This inhibits personal and organizational growth. For this key reason, “Desire” is a better choice.

Strong Desire for Growth is Essential

Organizations that have sustained organizational growth over decades see improving as part of everyday work. They invest in growth because it is important. Not because of urgency, but because it’s the right thing to do.

2. Understand the Existing Culture

The next step is to understand your existing culture. But what is Culture? We can define it as what is commonly known as,”How we do things around here.” I have experimented with a lot of culture models and recommend the two that are proven in terms of simplicity and power. You can use them together to diagnose and your culture and orient for growth.

The Sahota Culture Model provides a clear understanding of culture through identification of the interconnected elements that shape culture. It also highlights the need to focus not just on Structures, but also on the Consciousness (or Mindset) of a system. We often fall into the trap of focusing on structures (especially process) rather than focus on the people and how they are working together. This mode reminds us that it’s really about the consciousness (or mindset), the people, not about the structures or process.

The other model that is very powerful is a modified version of the Laloux Culture Model. It may be used to assess where the organization is right now. It also has the tendency to help spark a desire for shifting to a higher performance way of working such as Green or Teal. One key reason to use this model is that it has heaps of case studies and research to support the claims of high performance. It also lines up with many other models and theories of culture and behavior such as McGregor’s Theory X — Theory Y.

3. Create a Star on the Horizon

The next step is to look at case studies and examples of the kind of company that you want to become. There are lots of great resources such as the book, Reinventing Organizations, or “Diverse Paths to High-Performance Organizational Culture.”

It is a good idea to use these for inspiration. The goal is to create a “star on the horizon” that is aligned with the desire for change. Don’t try and copy structures. Copying simply gives you the structures without the shift in culture.

The secret here is to find your own path. Selecting a path is primarily a function of two things: 1. The existing situation in your organization. We can only grow and evolve from the place we are at. 2. The shared desire of people to create a new future. The desire could just be top leadership or they may co-create this with people throughout the organization.

4. Culture Grows Locally

A common misconception is that culture change is for the whole organization. It is important to understand that in most organizations culture varies by team, department, and location. It is as unique as each individual manager. So keep in mind this key point:

Since it is a local phenomenon, it means that it is possible to make changes locally within your part of the organization. The most common way for culture to grow is Culture Bubbles. Of course, when we do this, there will be culture gaps that create tension and challenges.

The key idea for reducing the tension is to Build Culture Adapters. There will be different ways of working and different values inside the bubble and outside the bubble. The adapter idea is to reduce conflict with the rest of the organization by building adapters between the ways of working. It’s a key pattern for creating sustainable culture bubbles.

5. Leaders Go First

Culture is primarily a reflection of Leadership. What happens at the bottom of the organization is a fractal of what happens at the top of the organization (thanks to Glenda Eoyang for this wisdom). It is well-known that the performance of a team is a direct reflection of their manager — this was proven through validated real-world research almost 20 years ago through the Gallup 12 “Engagement” Questions.

The way to change culture is for leaders to change how they interact with people and the organizational system. A key concept here is that Organizational Behavior Follows Leadership Behaviour. A new kind of organizational behavior way of working requires that leaders behave in a new way of working. So successful transformation requires that Leaders Go First!

6. Leadership Growth is Required

A key lesson in my career is that the Leader is the Limit for Growth. I notice that to create high-performance organizational systems, leaders needed to develop themselves as human beings. They needed to grow into the kind of leaders we see in high-performance environments. This means inner work to cultivate trust, safety, and connection. As leaders, we need to get our egos under control so we can develop leaders around us.

This is not for the faint of heart. We are talking about developing ourselves not just as leaders but as human beings. Like you, I am on this journey, too. I created the 4A’s Conscious Leadership Model to capture the step-by-step approach I have been using to grow myself. It’s a powerful tool to help rewire our unconscious behaviors that are preventing us from showing up as the leaders we desire to be. We are so deeply conditioned by society to have behaviors that are contradictory to high-performance. Dedicated focus and effort is required to shift our habits and unconscious behaviors.

A learning organization is a place where everyone grows.

Remember the desire for organizational growth in step 1? This is where you need it. Personal growth requires a strong drive to keep up the effort.

This is the secret of changing the culture: all we need to do is change our behavior and culture will follow.

It’s a Journey

The above steps are sufficient and necessary for culture change in an organization. What is shared here are the key starting elements for culture change. Of course, there are a lot more details on how to do the steps outlined here and even more on supporting the journey.

You Can Do This Regardless of Your Role

Executives, managers, and coaches that I have trained have successfully applied what I am sharing here. We are all leaders. We may be a leader because people report to us or we have more seniority or expertise. And we can also be a leader because of how we choose to show up.

You Can Implement This Immediately

Regardless of your role, you can chose to show up NOW the way a leader of the future organization would. You have full control over your behavior.

You Don’t Need Permission, Budget or Authority

You don’t need permission, budget or authority to start acting in ways that model high-performance behavior. All of us can shift our local culture immediately. The only limit here is your desire and your investment in developing yourself.

It’s a big shift for us as leaders. Sure, we still need to support the development of people around us so that we have leaders at all levels. But this is secondary to growing ourselves to fully model the kind of organizational leader needed for the future organizational culture/organization we wish to create.

Summary

So here are the six key steps to change your culture:

  1. Desire for Growth
  2. Understand Existing Culture
  3. Create a Star on the Horizon
  4. Grow Culture Locally
  5. Leaders Go First
  6. Leadership Growth is Required

And here are the important tips to keep in mind:

  • It’s a journey
  • You can do this regardless of your role
  • You can implement this immediately
  • You do not need permission, budget or authority

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Culture Eats Digital Transformation for Breakfast

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” —P. Drucker

Now is the time of digital transformation. Traditional businesses are investing millions to look like their GAFA models (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) which have become in a few years the symbols of disruption and innovation.

To survive in this world of uncertain future, where everything goes faster and faster, where the goal of unlimited economic growth begins to show its limits, and where the pressure of competition is constantly increasing, these companies are forced to place the customer at the center of their concerns to be able to understand their expectations, that’s a question of life or death! Nokia, which missed smartphones, or Kodak which missed digital camera are examples of companies which did not know how to reinvent themselves.

They spend millions, recruit, train, and implement scale Agile frameworks, with the aim of optimizing their processes and thus maximize their profits. It’s beautiful on paper only, because in reality, there is not much that changes. New roles replace old roles; we do Scrum and find retrospectives are pretty cool for improving, we are rather satisfied because we managed to deliver a product in a few months instead of a few years, and then we believe we have arrived, and that the company is evolving for a better future. In fact, we are just stopping the bleeding because the corporate culture eats the digital transformation for breakfast. In other words, it is inefficient to launch a digital transformation without changing the culture of the company.

So how can we transform this culture of power and unlimited profit that no longer truly corresponds to our “standards of life,” with a purpose that can inspire employees around a common vision and give them true meaning in their daily work?

The answer is quite simple: We must change the organization

An organizational change that tends to empower teams and flatten hierarchical structures is the key to boost digital transformation. A company that puts the employee at the center of their concerns, recognizing their true value, and building a consultation-based model of collaboration where management controls the system is replaced by a people trust system, where anyone can share their ideas, regardless of their role or hierarchical position, will sustainably activate its innovation and value-added chains.

This approach requires courage to break down the walls isolating top and middle management from the field. No more bi-, tri-, or quadrilateral meetings where we exchange our little secrets away from opportunistic ears; meetings are now global, and facilitated by coaches. Information no longer means power, it means sharing and collective intelligence. Digital transformation is a team journey, where everyone is not just looking for individual success.

I will end this post with a quote from Barack Obama:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Business leaders, what are you waiting for to change the world?

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