Face culture or face failure
Are you thinking about trying agile approaches? Do you have an agile transition underway? Is your team or organization trying to become agile, but been less than successful thus far? A foundational implication – and the biggest potential roadblock – of the agile manifesto is culture change.
Therefore, to be successful with agile approaches and especially to scale them, you must go beyond agile technical practices and simultaneously tackle culture changes. This session shows why this is so, introduces a simple culture model, and gives you an opportunity to try out a culture tool.
This is a tutorial with both introductory information and time-boxed exercises loosely set up around an agile/Scrum framework. It was successfully presented in this format at Agile 2008 and subsequently by request at two area meetings (Agile Tampa and Orlando Scrum groups). The need for awareness and appropriate culture actions has not changed and is even more important as more people try to adopt agile practices; therefore, I am proposing a similar, updated session for Agile 2009.
10 minutes – personalization via individual exercise: assessment of where participants’ current work teams are and where participants would like them to be if optimally agile (this exercise is best done without prior model knowledge; sheets will be provided as attendees come in to shorten if possible)
5 minutes – warning, agenda, and objectives
15 minutes – Iteration 0: architecture orientation (culture model introduction + clarification Q&A)
5 minutes – Introduce target culture and exercise; team (8-12 attendees) self selections and movement to iteration areas; hand out quick reference/”looks like” sheets for use in iterations and scan quickly
20 minutes – Iteration 1: produce a team agreement of how to handle a particular situation (provided by us) so the culture moves toward the target. This will help participants get an immediate feel for both culture issues and framework application.
Background: the Competing Values Framework is based on four quadrants of behavior that are all in play at any given time, though in differing intensities/levels. Individuals and organizations from team level to corporation will exhibit behavior based on the combined intensities. Because it is easier to begin thinking in terms of a single quadrant in its extreme form, this exercise is designed to take a group of people, physically separate them into four quadrant subgroups (e.g. tape squares on the floor), and have them come up with solutions to the question/issue based on their adopted “extreme” views. Once these views are expressed, the second phase is for each quadrant subgroup to physically move in to the exercise “target” blend point and come up with how their original positions would be modified based on that movement. The four quadrant subgroups then come up with a composite view that represents how their group would handle the situation/issue. (much easier to demonstrate than explain … kind of like explaining how to tie shoes verbally!)
3 minutes – Iteration 1 team retrospective/debrief.
2 minutes – Iteration 2 planning: change team assignments, and provide next exercise topic.
20 minutes – Iteration 2: a second extreme/target culture exercise.
10 minutes – manifesto revisit + (time permitting – quick overview of some additional tools) + Q&A + session retrospective.
Option: It can also be presented to a large audience or as a main stage presentation in a talk form.
I have included a draft set of session slides and a draft paper that explains the “why” for reviewers desiring some of the “talk” that goes with the slides.
- Understand the cultural implications of the agile manifesto
- Learn about a framework you can use to describe, analyze, and change culture
- Practice applying the framework with a simple tool
- Determine your next steps to success