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  • Writer's pictureAllison Bacher

Agile Culture Change

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Agile is breaking new ground, moving from Digital Transformation and into HR.

After years of working in Agile transformation, whether it’s FTSE250, global finance or Government, in tech and non-tech projects, we see the same challenges and impediments over and over. They are almost always people related.  

Technology and Governance are on the list, but most organisations cite culture change as their top challenge. There’s a fear of self-organising teams followed by cross-skilling and then it’s getting the whole organisation on board. That’s before we even talk about demonstrating ROI.

There’s so much more to Agile than meets the eye - introducing new frameworks and transitioning to a higher degree of business agility isn’t easy. Identifying impediments and challenging our working practises can be painful. We just don’t want to go there. As a result most organisations will not get the benefits they expect.

Agile Board
Agile culture change

Here’s the thing - high performing Agile teams aren’t created within the confines of a training room, nor from applying even the best of textbook theories so when the training ends, the real work begins.

First let's tackle the “biggie”: self-organising teams. Command & control style management is so passé: it works in simple situations where procedural work means people mustn’t deviate from the known process but fails in the context of today’s increasingly complex environments.

Knowledge and creative workers need guidance, not managing to achieve their goals. Research tells us that they need high levels of autonomy; the ability to self-organise, collaborate and develop a greater sense of shared commitment. That’s a behavioural change at all levels which is hard to achieve and even harder to measure.

Now for cross-skilling. People in these teams need to find the time to work on themselves, just a little, all of the time, to stay at the top of their game and learn a little more about their colleague’s roles too. In the early days of Agile adoption, a major contributor to low productivity is a lack of expert guidance. Teams feel their manager doesn’t have the time and/or expertise to give them advice ad hoc. Neither they nor management want to take time out to master new skills yet sacrificing skills development in favour of more delivery is the number one mistake managers make so their teams never achieve Mastery*.

We’ll talk about getting the business on board in another post. But before then ask yourself: Do you have the environment, governance and tools in place to enable guided self-organisation and learning?


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