Think Like an Agilist: Deliberate practice for Agile culture

If I say, culture is important to adopting Agile, most people will just agree without even thinking too much about it.  But what is meant by "culture"?  Why is it important?

Culture is not typical behaviour; it is not what we say we value (but don't actually do).  Culture is our basic assumptions of how things work.  Culture is the logic we use to think through and respond to any particular situation.

If you imagine a pyramid, Agile practice and any other visible behaviour is on the top, stated or written Agile values and principles are in the middle, fundamental assumptions (aka culture) is at the base.

My session is intended to expose people to the base of that pyramid.

If culture is assumptions, then to understand Agile culture, we need to understand the basic assumptions of Agile.  To do this, I have created an approach called "Think Like an Agilist" that both exposes how we think through an "Agile situation" and allows us to deliberately practice "Agile culture".

The general idea is that I won't just talk about Agile culture and values, what I'll call "culture theatre", but rather expose people, who nominally consider themselves part of the Agile culture, to their underlying thought processes and assumptions, given a relatively difficult scenario.  Those thought processes and assumptions are the essence of culture (reference Edgar H. Schein).  What is interesting is noting when the thought processes and assumptions are different which indicates that there is a different culture at play.  What I've noticed is that this difference is common between novice vs expert Agilists.

Note that it isn't even about analyzing vs doing it mechanically but more about exposing what assumptions are being used to respond.

NOTE: I will be updating the attached slides as when I created them, I was framing it more as "doctrine" rather than "culture", defined as fundamental assumptions"

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  1. Introductory presentation
  2. Think Like an Agilist scenario - small group practice session
  3. Debrief
  4. Repeat practice session / debrief
  5. Overall debrief

Learning Outcome

Clearer understanding of what is meant by "culture"

Clearer understanding of the basic assumptions underlying Agile

Awareness of an approach to expose and practice effective thought processes

Target Audience

Any

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

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comment Comment on this Proposal
  • Meghan Robinson
    By Meghan Robinson  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    I’m intrigued by your articles regarding scrum and agile! I’m wondering if you would be willing to write a piece or give us permission to highlight an existing article on the new AgileCareers Blog. AgileCareers is powered by Scrum Alliance and is the only job board dedicated to connecting Scrum and Agile organizations with qualified, passionate Agile professionals.

     

    Click below to view the blog: http://membership.scrumalliance.org/blogpost/1322603/AgileCareers-News

     

    If you wish to discuss further, please email me at mrobinson@scrumalliance.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

     

    Thanks,

    Meghan

  • AgileSattva Consulting LLP
    By AgileSattva Consulting LLP  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Slide definitely made me thinking, I am coming to think if it would define "Culture" aspects. It feels to me more like "thinking at different situations" and the difference between analyzing the situation rather just do it mechanically.
    Could you help me understand the relation between the slides and the Agile culture ?

    • Jason Yip
      By Jason Yip  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Deepak,

      I will be updating those slides as when I created them, I was framing it more as "doctrine" rather than "culture", defined as fundamental assumptions".  The general idea is that I won't just talk about Agile culture and values, what I'll call "culture theatre", but rather expose people, who nominally consider themselves part of the Agile culture, to their underlying thought processes and assumptions, given a relatively difficult scenario.  Those thought processes and assumptions are the essence of culture (reference Edgar H. Schein).  What is interesting is noting when the thought processes and assumptions are different which indicates that there is a different culture at play.  What I've noticed is that this difference is common between novice vs expert Agilists.

      Note that it isn't even about analyzing vs doing it mechanically but more about exposing what assumptions are being used to respond.

      • Doc Norton
        By Doc Norton  ~  3 years ago
        reply Reply

        Jason:

        Can you do me a favor and update your proposal details to incorporate some of the additional information you've provided in response to reviewer inquiries? While we can read through the thread of comments to gain the whole picture, the more we can garner from the write-up, the better.

        Thanks.

        - Doc
        (Agile Lifecycle Theme Chair)

  • Ellen Grove
    By Ellen Grove  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jason - I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to attend your workshop.  Thanks for making the slides available.  Good to meet you at Agile India!  

  • Joel Tosi
    By Joel Tosi  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jason,

       Would you be able to chat about this Monday or Wednesday this week?  Maybe skype or google hangout?  I have some questions I would like to go through with yout.

    Thanks.

    Joel

  • Joel Tosi
    By Joel Tosi  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jason,

      I am intrigued by your session but still struggling with the takeaways.  I want to make sure it isn't me / my beliefs.  I don't believe you create a culture, I believe a culture is a product of the system.  Does your session address culture as how to create an 'agile' culture, or is it about what an 'agile' culture is, etc.  Consider me simple ;)  Ground this very concrete for me.

    Best,

    Joel

  • Sachin goel
    By Sachin goel  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    An interesting one, do you think this is more common than agile practices? Are there any co-relations of this with Agile pratices?

    • Jason Yip
      By Jason Yip  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Sachin,

      Do you mean, will this approach work more generally than the Agile context?  If so, yes I believe it will, especially as it's derived from another context (i.e., Think Like a Commander).

      If you imagine a pyramid, Agile practice and any other visible behaviour is on the top, stated or written Agile values and principles are in the middle, fundamental assumptions (aka culture) is at the base.

      My session is intended to expose people to the base of that pyramid.


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    This session explores my personal journey from practitioner to coach. It should help you too in taking that first jump into the role of a coach. I will share real-world examples of dealing with on-the-fly situations, and of preparing upfront where possible. I will recommend resources, and mention handy techniques that should be in a coach's toolkit. The session essentially provides a kick-start for first-time coaches.

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    Ram Srinivasan - The Conflict Paradox

    90 mins
    Workshop
    Intermediate

    It is not a question of if a team is going to have a conflict; it is a question of when. Equipping them to deal with conflict is more than creating agreements or having a good facilitator. We look at a conflict model that focuses on dynamics of conflict by understanding- 1. Cognitive skills:self-awareness about triggers, hot spots, emotions,behaviors. 2. Emotional skills:reading emotions, body language, balancing emotions, using curiosity 3. Behavioral skills:understanding others’ perspectives and needs, avoiding 8 destructive behaviors, embracing 8 constructive behavior. In an organizational setting, it is important to understand the source (culture, interdependence, incompatibility, personality, power, etc.) and types of conflict (cognitive vs. affective). Creating awareness about conflict processes, retaliatory cycles and building a conflict profile can empower teams engage in constructive disagreements.