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Agile Culture Isn’t the Problem

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Agile Culture Isn’t the Problem

Let’s assume you could flip the mindset of your organization overnight. What would you do next to ensure that you could predictably deliver product into the market, faster?

If you don’t have an answer, perhaps it’s time to consider that culture isn’t the problem.

Video Transcript

We all show up and we go, we want to change culture, right? Because culture feels like the problem. Because you know what, if we could just get everybody to think about this problem differently, all the other stuff would be easy. And one of the questions that I ask, and I love doing this in like user groups is I say, “okay, if you were king for a day and you could by virtue of fiat tell everybody in the organization they had to think differently tomorrow, right? And then you get everybody to flip simultaneously, what would you do tomorrow to guarantee predictability? Or to guarantee that you can put a product in the market faster?” Okay. The hurdle feels like mindset. But once you get past that thin veneer of mindset, most people don’t know what they would go do, right? They don’t. Right?

Because then you get past mindset and you say, well okay, I’m going to teach you how to do Scrum. How is a daily standup going to cause you to be able to deliver with higher quality? Right? So, what we’re kind of learning is that there’s three facets of change that all have to be dealt with largely simultaneously and what you guys need to know as a change agent within your organization is how each of those three facets are going to lead towards the business outcomes that you want. It’s not enough to say we have to change the culture and then hope for a miracle on the other side. You guys ever see that little diagram? It’s probably 20 years old now. It’s like two scientists sitting at the whiteboard or chalkboard. They didn’t have whiteboards, right? Chalkboard and it’s like all this math on one side and it’s all this math on the other, and then it says like, then a miracle happens here.

It’s kind of like what we’re doing in the Agile community, right? We’re saying like, ah, if we could just get this culture right, everything would be good. Oh Man. If we could just get people doing retrospectives, everything would be good. Our fundamental hypothesis is that Scrum was built around a fundamental structure, complete cross functional teams. Those teams operating off of a clearly articulated backlog and able to produce a working tested increment of product at the end of every sprint. The fundamental thing that gets in the way of that, and most organizations are dependencies. We don’t know how to break the dependencies, so therefore we break the process to accommodate the dependencies.

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