Culture is a rubber band around your organization

Александр Бындю
Александр Бындю · 17 августа 2016
IT-архитектор · Эксперт в Agile и Lean · Основатель компании Byndyusoft

In my consultant practice, I have made a lot of attempts to change processes and engineering culture in my client’s companies. Not all attempts were successful. I found that some organizations first started the Agile transformation on a motivated impulse but after a few months was eaten by the Waterfall culture again.

For example, I gave Scrum training to client’s employees. Then together with a client’s team we released 3–4 Sprints. After successful releases, I left developers and the Product Owner to themselves. Eventually, the client’s team reverted to the old style again in a few months and lost the benefits of Agility.

Fortunately, I found out why this happens. Ahmed shows in his video how to change culture and achieve sustainable Agility. You’ll find great thoughts and impressive metaphors in this video.

Big Idea #1: Culture is a rigid rubber band

Here is my favorite slide from the video:

A slide from Using Keystone Habits to Transform Enterprises and Achieve Sustainable video by Ahmed Sidky

It shows how culture binds any changes. You can’t move just one peace of your organization because rubber band will ultimately bring it back . If you want to change, you have to put all the pieces together in one small step. I love this idea and I’ve used it for a few years with success.

Big Idea #2: Roadmap for changes

As you already know, you have to take one small step for Leadership, Strategy, Structure, Process and People levels simultaneously. Here is a map that will help you understand how this is achieved:

A slide from Using Keystone Habits to Transform Enterprises and Achieve Sustainable video by Ahmed Sidky

Fill-in this roadmap for your organization. You’ll see a step-by-step plan for your Enterprise’s transformation.

The hardest part is to find necessary habits. Sadly, there is no best practice that guarantees how to do this . I recommend to fill out this form step-by-step and do a Retrospective continuously to track results.

Other Thoughts

  1. Shuhari — a way of thinking about how you learn Agile. There is no Agility in Shu (follows the teachings of one master precisely) because you know only a few options. Agility is in the Ri because you have the ability to create new techniques as you go. Sadly, you can’t start in Ri.
  2. Task workers follow a liner process. For instance, you can’t start building a house from the top. You have to follow a step-by-step process, from bottom to top. Knowledge workers do a non-liner job. For instance, you write a book with a rough drafts and rewrite it again and again until your book is finished.
  3. Knowledge work is characterized by: not knowing the outcome in advance, the low cost of change and a hard to coordinate process. Agile manager has a huge amount of uncertainty.
  4. There is a big difference between Being Agile and Doing Agile. If you are Doing Agile, it means you get only practices (Scrum, XP) but not thinking according to Agile Manifesto.
  5. There are two types of mindset — Fixed and Growth. A Fixed Mindset means I can’t be changed. ‘Fixed’ people ask ‘What do I do next?’ Growth Mindset means I have to try to learn and then I have a chance to become better. Teams also have one mindset type like individuals have. Ahmed recommends the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
  6. Agile Mindset (Growth) helps us manage uncertainty. Fixed Mindset is not fit for Agility.
  7. Agile is all about learning and discovering.
  8. Successful transformations come when you take a thousand people and move them one step each, not take one person and move them a thousand steps.
  9. Organizations have habits — this is how work gets done. If you have a task or a problem you know what to do because you have a habit.
  10. Change the keystone habit and you will change a few underlying habits also. According to Ahmed’s experience, the keystone habit is a way of communication and collaboration. We have to change it first if we are looking for an efficient way of changing.

The whole video

I strongly recommend watching the entire video and sharing your thoughts and comments: