Is Culture Really the Problem? w/ Mike Cottmeyer
“Culture is just the boogeyman people use when they don’t know how to articulate an organizational change management strategy that executives will buy into.”
~ Mike Cottmeyer
In this episode of SoundNotes, LeadingAgile CEO, Mike Cottmeyer shares his thoughts on why we need to stop blaming culture when organizations are unable to adopt Agile. During the interview, Mike and Dave dig into the reasons why many of the organizations that struggle with Agile are dealing with deeply rooted mechanisms that extend far beyond culture. Unfortunately, one of the most common refrains in the Agile community is that the culture is the primary thing that must be addressed, and once that is solved, the rest will take care of itself. For many organizations that buy into the promise of Agile without having clarity on the organizational impediments they must overcome for Agile to be able to exist, maybe culture isn’t the best place to start.
If you’d like to read Mike’s blog post on the topic, you can find it here: https://bit.ly/2pO8YU4
If you’d like to contact Mike you can reach him at:
- LeadingAgile: https://www.leadingagile.com/guides/mike-cottmeyer/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cottmeyer/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcottmeyer
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to contact Dave you can reach him at:
- LeadingAgile: https://www.leadingagile.com/guides/dave-prior/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrsungo
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrsungo
- Email: email@example.com
If you have a question you’d like to submit for an upcoming podcast, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re interested in taking one of our upcoming Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner classes, you can find all the details at https://www.leadingagile.com/our-gear/training/
Great discussion! Thank you for calling out the boogeyman. I was incensed last week when I read an article by McKinsey (https://www.mckinsey.com/about-us/new-at-mckinsey-blog/behind-the-scenes-of-top-digital-makeovers). They suggest that one of the 3 keys is to “upend the culture” by creating a crucible of perfect culture and hope that the rest of the org just copies it. Go ahead and fume on that for a few minutes.
Talking about “culture” wholesale is not useful. What is useful is to be really specific about what elements of culture are no longer serving the organization. At that point, you can look for what is driving this culture and tackle it at the root. As you suggest Mike, through policy, structure, etc.
Another thing to consider is the recursive situation of culture. Building on your example of being “chained to the wall”, I find myself in situations where someone is chained to the wall and I say “I have a bolt cutter, let me help you get out of there.” The response is “oh no, we don’t believe in those. Besides if you cut my chains how will I stay up? They are holding me onto the wall!” And we find ourselves right back in the soft skills of changing the culture, but this time in a very targeted way.