If you are one of the people in your organization that is helping to increase the Agility of people, teams, or the organization overall, then you are a cultural change agent. According to Merriam-Webster’s, culture is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization” and “a way of thinking behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.” Agile brings a new set of attitudes, values, goals, beliefs, and practices; and a new way of thinking, behaving, and working.

In this highly interactive session, we will examine the kinds of cultural and behavioral changes that Agile can bring, the benefits of those changes, and the practices and techniques that can ease the inevitable culture clash. Participants will split up into small cross-functional groups which will go through a series of exercises to discover their current level of "Agile culture", the many sub-cultures in an organization and their unique challenges, behavioral changes that lead to cultural change, and the opportunities that we all have to personally affect our organization's culture.

One of the highlights of the workshop is a thought experiment called "the locked room" which gives participants an opportunity to see their organization's culture in a new light, imagine a more Agile culture, and consider the changes required to move to that more Agile culture.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

5 Minutes: What is "culture?"

15 Minutes: Exercise: the room splits up into small cross-functional groups. Each group is assigned a role such as developer, tester, business person, etc and comes up with a description of the culture of that role as described via beliefs, values, and goals. Representatives then describe the various cultures which illustrates the wide disparities of culture that exist even between different roles, let alone different organizations. This exercise illustrates the challenge of influencing culture.

5 Minutes: Exercise: how much of Agile culture do you subscribe to? In this exercise, the room discovers how many (generally how few) of the values and principles the people in the room actually believe in from the Agile Manifesto.

5 Minutes: comparison of Agile culture vs traditional development culture

5 Minutes: examples of the benefits that come from switching to an Agile culture

5 Minutes: explanation of the "locked room" exercise which graphically illustrates what really doing Scrum involves as a way to help people understand the kinds of behavioral change required to get the benefits of Agile. The locked room exercise is a thought experiment that asks people to imagine spending two weeks in a locked room with a Scrum team. You only go in when you feel that the work to do meets the agreed upon definition of ready, nobody leaves (or gets paid) until all of the work meets the definition of done, and you can do whatever you want (HR friendly) to get the work done during that time.

5 Minutes: Exercise: each group brainstorms what sorts of behavior changes would occur in this environment, and how beliefs and values would be re-examined. This helps people to see the influence of culture on outcomes.

5 Minutes: Exercise: what values, beliefs, behavior would need to change in your organization in order to fully realize the benefits of Agile? At a personal, team, organizational level? Which ones do you feel that you personally can influence? This exercise helps people discover just how much work is needed from a cultural perspective and to realize that they have the ability and responsibility to make real changes happen.

Learning Outcome

  • Deeper understanding of what "culture" means
  • What an Agile culture looks like
  • The importance of culture in the success of an Agile adoption
  • Tools for doing a gap analysis on an organization's current culture compared to an Agile culture
  • An introduction to the techniques for affecting cultural change in an organization

Target Audience

People manager, project manager, Scrum Master, Agile Coach, Agile Change Agent

schedule Submitted 8 years ago