Career Kaizen #3 – Your Culture

Your Culture

Monday – Your Cultural Context

agile, Career Kaizen, people, team building, teams, culture
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
What is your company culture?

This week we’ll be looking at your cultural context. A mentor once told me “People trump process, but politics trumps people”, and for the business, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So, what is your company culture? And what does that mean to you?

The technology innovation adoption curve is a model adapted by Geoffrey Moore that plots the relative number of people who fall across a continuum of their response to new technology. There are innovators, early adopters, early and late majority, and laggards.

This matters for you because agile is, in the same way, new. IT changes how many people in the organization work, aspects of their roles, what’s expected of them, and even deeper and more importantly, it changes what’s expected of people’s mindsets and what the values are.

An agile survey showed that the number one reported problem with agile adoptions was management resistance.

Homework: Read up on the curve, plot where you are, where your team is and where you think your company is.

Tuesday – Lead with Vulnerability and Transparency

You are part of a team. Even more so with agile, we can’t find our success outside of that. Like a relay race, you may claim a fast time for your segment, but if the baton is dropped, you still lose the race.

Patrick Lencioni wrote about what makes teams healthy, and what holds them back. The common problems are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Many teams asking for help are stuck at the first two levels, so let’s focus on how you can help with those.

To help with the absence of trust, first, lead with vulnerability and transparency. Tell them how you blew it (they usually already know anyways), when you were stressed or worried. Affirm them for what they do that you can’t do so well. Be the first one to share, ask the difficult question or talk about the elephant in the room. Model transparency. Affirm them when they do it.

Second, look for conflict, don’t avoid it. We should cultivate environments where it’s okay to disagree, and passion is okay. No personal attacks, of course, but freedom to speak your mind and have opinions.

Homework: Look at the documents on Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Wednesday – Get your Team’s Perspective

What does the team think? Schedule a meeting, or include it in the next retrospective, to have them say what they think they have, both on the curve, and with dysfunctions.

Homework: Schedule the meeting (unless it will be part of the next retro) and review the documents with the team.

Thursday – The Change Agent

agile, Career Kaizen, people, team building, teams, culture
Healthy things grow. Growing things change.
Lead by embracing change.

How and why do people change? What motivates them? What motivates you?

There’s a saying – healthy things grow, and growing things change. But we can’t make people change. Just look at corrective institutions, rehabilitation centers or many marriages.

But we can lead by embracing, and living out, change. Although I may teach and coach about change, I’m surprised how often I’m actually resisting it. For each of us, this is true for many reasons, but the point is to be mindful that we all struggle with it, not just others. Is there a habit you haven’t broken, a goal you haven’t attained?

Two reasons that change is hard are emotion and habit.

Homework: Look at the summaries for Switch and Habit. Note three points or items that stuck out to you.

Friday – You, Your Team, and Your Response to Change

By now I hope you have some feel for both the culture around you, your team and your own response to change.

Homework: Watch these Switch and Habit videos on YouTube.

Weekend Warrior: Do a force field analysis of what changes are supposedly wanted by the company and what is hindering them.

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