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Culture eats Agile for breakfast


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Presentation at the Scrum Gathering in Paris, 2013-09-23. Part of an interactive session as described on The presentation builds on Ed Schein´s model of organizational culture and applies it to Agile. What do we need to successfully introduce and nurture an Agile culture? Two case studies show some answers to this question.

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Culture eats Agile for breakfast

  1. Culture eats Agile for Breakfast Sigi Kaltenecker Peter Hundermark Scrum Gathering, Paris, 2013
  2. Organizational Culture... “ both a dynamic phenomenon that surrounds us at all times, being constantly enacted and created by our interactions with others and shaped by leadership behavior, and a set of structures, routines, rules, and norms that guide and constrain behavior”.
  3. Organizational Culture is... …the way we do things around here …a pattern of shared basic assumptions how to behave, lead, solve problems and succeed …seen as kind of the nature of our business …both a mental model and a set of emotionally rooted activities
  4. WTF is water? Blub
  5. 3 Levels of Culture Artifacts: Visual structures and processes Underlying assumptions: Taken-for-granted beliefs, thoughts and feelings Espoused values: Official strategies, goals, philosophies ?
  6. Agile Culture Artifacts: Underlying assumptions: Espoused values: “Trust is good, control is better” “You can´t let the monkeys run the zoo” “I won´t pay anyone for slack”
  7. Artifacts: Underlying assumptions: Agile Culture Espoused values: We are brilliant alone and idiots together Leadership is a trait of great managers Internal efficiency comes first People are still rewarded individually “We believe in team work” “We support self-organization” Line Managers are ScrumMasters “Our focus is on customer value” Bureaucratic cost controlling
  8. Why these contradictions? Mind your blind spots
  9. Conclusions ...detect and provide feedback on cultural dysfunctionalities mindful how to introduce Agile ....increase the level of psychological safety to let go ...decrease the anxiety to learn new things
  10. Client S
  11. Stage 1 – “Burning Platform”
  13. Stage 3 – “Continuous Improvement” (just starting)
  14. Unsuccessful intervention? 1.“Controlling” culture overtook everything 2.Loss of Sponsor’s trust 3.Failure to build other support 4.Tide is turning?
  15. Client M
  16. “Continuous Improvement” from the start •“Pop-corn” work arrival •No visibility or predictability •Too much work-in-process •Executive goal is sustainability
  17. Progress & Challenges •Visibility and limiting WIP •Flow? •PMO & portfolio board? •Group organisational restructure?
  18. Observations Trust vs fear Support for change Long- vs short-termism Top-down vs bottom-up “Controlling” vs “Cultivative” culture
  19. Thank you! @sigikaltenecker @peterhunderm28 Mitarbeitern