Culture – the often forgotten element in Agile
As Agile project management and the concepts of Radical Management become ever more popular there is at least one important factor that everyone who is honestly interested in embracing the Agile evolution has to be aware of: know thy culture.
Agile offers many methodologies, tools, artifacts, you name it. Scrum is simple and powerful. And it is relatively easy to learn the fundamentals and apply Scrum in your daily project setting. Alas, this is not sufficient for Agile to work.
One of the key elements for Agile to work is the right environment. Let me give you two examples of what I mean by this environment:
(1) All involved people have to be open for the highly collaborative approach of Agile. Collaboration is not limited to exchanging emails. It is an attitude and willingness to truly work together in one team and as one team. It means openly sharing available information, showing an eagerness to help and empower each other. True collaboration doesn’t fall from heaven. You have to nurture it. “You” in this context is the core and extended team.
(2) Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. And this is good as long as we learn from it. In an Agile setting learning and innovation have to be daily routine. We should constantly reinvent ourselves, should look for ways and means to improve our performance. Regular lessons learned sessions are great if and only if they yield tangible action items for the next sprint and are supported by the whole team. Creating a culture of learning also implies that people, including management, have to be humble enough to make mistakes, admit, correct and learn from them. – Unfortunately admitting mistakes seems to be an impossible feat for management in many companies. Makes you wonder about their actual ability to lead, for cultivating learning is one of the principles of effective leadership.