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Paladins, demons and the Illuminati: Changing culture at the ATO

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by Tyler Gale

Culture change is necessary when transforming to an effective agile workplace, but doing that in a government agency environment can be even harder. Learn how raising an army of paladins, forming a secret illuminati group and saving people from demons at the ATO created an effective cultural change plan, and how you can do the same for your workplace.

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Paladins, demons and the Illuminati: Changing culture at the ATO

  1. 1. Paladins, Demons & the Illuminati Changing culture at the ATO Presented by Tyler Gale Australian Taxation Office CLASSIFICATION EXTERNAL
  2. 2. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 2 Who am I Tyler Gale Agile coach @ Australian Taxation Office ● Agile coach for the branch in ATO responsible for most of the client facing applications (ATO mobile app, ato.gov.au, ATO Online, etc.) ● We have 24 agile teams predominantly in Brisbane, but with some in Canberra and Melbourne. ● Got into coaching by accident. Became a Scrum master without a team, applied the principles to many teams!
  3. 3. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 3 What we are going to talk about ● My overwhelming task ● Paladins, Demons & the Illuminati ● The results! ● Things I wish I had known ● Q and Eh!
  4. 4. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 4 The specific takeaways you’ll get ● Why culture can should not be ignored in your transformation. ● Some practical tips on how to transform incumbent bad culture at scale ● Some lessons I learnt the hard way.
  5. 5. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 5 A Kebab shop changed my life... ● Recognition for my ability to transform an area into “green-fields” agile. ● Experimental position as an ATO-internal Agile coach full- time.
  6. 6. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 6 The situation One Branch Another branch New ultra mega mega branch
  7. 7. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. 7 The mega branch issues ● Formed as scrum, but culture rooted in Waterfall. ● Command and control hierarchy, with limited autonomy for teams. ● No product owners (lolwut) ● Not even remotely full stack ● Overburdened and overworked New ultra mega mega branch
  8. 8. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. 8 The immediate mission: Fix the culture (fix the environment, not the people). Create (and maintain) the OMGWTFBBQ most-agilest area ever!
  9. 9. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 9 Waterfall is fixed scope, with dynamic resourcing and time. Agile is fixed resources and time, with dynamic scope.
  10. 10. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 10 Outcomes of that model ● No autonomy ● No trust and transparency ● No collaboration, learning or innovation ● No connection to reasoning and value ● No celebration ● No inspection and adaption
  11. 11. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 11 Outcomes of Agile ● No Autonomy ● No Trust and transparency ● No Collaboration, learning or innovation ● No Connection to reasoning and value ● No Celebration ● No Inspection and adaption
  12. 12. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 12 So how did we change? (how does one change 300?)
  13. 13. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 13 What to do yourself... ● Exemplify the behaviour you expect in others. ● Work with others to make it clear what “good” looks like so people can reach for it. Don’t assume they know! ● Never appear as a manager or an auditor! You work for the people!
  14. 14. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 14 Some low hanging fruit for changing the environment ● Create spaces that forces behavioural usage. Whiteboards are cheap ways of collaborating! ● Destroy formality with memes (the dankest possible) and remove the power from “incidents”. ● People make the best decisions for better processes, tools, etc. ● Retrospect, retrospect, retrospect and retrospect.
  15. 15. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 15 The Paladin – Agile holy warrior The paladin (this is who you invest your time in) ● Is enthusiastic and motivated by the change agenda. ● An “infection point” that changes those around them (buffs). ● Less likely to “drop” new skills, behaviours and culture in the face of resistance
  16. 16. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 16 How to find paladins ● Hold “open” workshops. Who attends, and how often? ● Who responds to requests for assistance? ● Who interacts with the games on whiteboards? ● Who is demonstrating innovation or skilling those up around them?
  17. 17. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 17 The Demon Refuses to change, and is toxic to others: ● Negative impact on those around them. ● Believes they can disable the cultural transformation. Do not spend time trying to change them, but protect others from their influence!
  18. 18. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 18 How to detect a demon ● Demons usually make themselves known. ● Demons actively disrupt attempts to make change. ● Pay special attention to leadership and roles that disappear in Agile.
  19. 19. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 19 The Illuminati – The shadowy change group ● Eyes and ears of people and leadership. ● Group takes action across the space (examples incoming). ● Rank and role left at the door, and total honesty between each other. ● Membership is secretive.
  20. 20. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 20 Some of our Illuminati membership ● Finance officers. Useful for change that requires money! ● Very high level leadership. We can anticipate organisational change and feed that into our plans. ● Normal team members. Can see the bad/good things we normally couldn’t!
  21. 21. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 21 The outcomes...
  22. 22. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 22 ● Our internal metrics & census data show successive improvements with each run. ● Teams are consistently reserving capacity for learning, innovation and technical debt refactoring. ● Our staff turnover rates are dramatically lower. People wanting to work with us has increased too! ● Most of our demons are gone. ● We advise internal and external areas on how to accomplish transformations in their space.
  23. 23. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 23
  24. 24. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 24 Did we accomplish the mission? Dramatically better, but this will always be a work in-progress. Yeah, but we still want it to be better and better.
  25. 25. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 25 I wish I had known earlier... ● Coach leadership immediately! ● Look after yourself! Do not become cynical and be patient. ● Define to yourself what success is, and always take the time to notice it. This isn’t delivery!
  26. 26. Thanks for listening! Any questions? Tyler Gale tyler.gale@ato.gov.au https://www.linkedin.com/in/tyler-gale-359ab16b/
  27. 27. EXTERNAL – Paladins, Demons & The Illuminati – Changing culture at the ATO. Tyler Gale 27 References ● Deumus. Retrieved 21/20/2018 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deumus.png ● Segway in the office. Retrieved 21/10/2018 from http://bulknews.typepad.com/life/2005/11/segway_in_the_o.html ● Colour by numbers. Retrieved 21/10/2018 from https://www.amazon.com/Colour-Numbers-Culture-Club/dp/B000000WHH ● Uther by Vir Hiyuga. Retrieved 21/10/2018 from https://weheartit.com/entry/237176364 ● Illuminati Triangle. Retrieve 21/10/2018 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illuminati_triangle_eye.png ● Kebab cat. Retrieved 21/10/2018 from https://i.chzbgr.com/full/4809741056/h7F929344/ ● The Sitiation. Retrieved 21/10/2018 from https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/the-situation-tax-stuff-152 2948201.jpg?resize=480 :*

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