Agile Coaches Must Understand Culture!

Here’s the hard truth: You are not as effective as you possibly could be.

Let’s be even more honest for a moment, shall we? As an organizational coach and Agile coach I know first-hand what it’s like going into a company and not having the faintest clue as to what they are really like. Yes, I got the “brief,” I’ve had the meetings, I even had a few 1-on-1’s, but I really haven’t gotten the whole story. Often, it’s 100% my fault too, as I had not set up the engagement to allow me greater time to sit down and more fully understand the culture…

I would venture that you may have experienced something like this as well… You and I both know that it’s really difficult to get a solid pulse on the cultural and team dynamics at play – sometimes we’re simply flying blind.

Agile Coaches are all about helping businesses and teams thrive. The top impediments to doing this are often:

  1. Executive management buy-in
  2. Dependencies and constraints on complex systems and designs
  3. Business culture

Here at Agile for All we aim to change the latter.

You see, the management buy-in often stems from mistrust of the process, the value, and the how. More specifically, how Agile going to work in MY business, MY culture, MY environment? Complex systems? We can through a slow process of integration, modularization, and candid conversations with different business units break this down into something that logically flows.

The “culture?” Now that’s the hard one.

The struggles of cultural change are typically found in these challenges:

  • It is absolutely hard to incite positive change into a culture
  • Teams and Management cannot agree on the right approach to change culture
  • Management is leery of wide-spread changes to processes
  • Team dysfunctions are obvious, but finding the core reasons these dysfunctions appear are hard to pin down
  • And so on and so on…

As an organizational consultant and Agile Coach myself, I need the best tools at the ready in my tool belt. I have been 100X more effective when I quickly understand the people I am engaging with… at the team level and the management level. That’s our aim at Agile for All, more than just using terrible cultural surveys, our goal is to understand your people, first.

It’s time to get an accurate reading as to what’s really going on instead of guess work and templates for culture (I’ve seen plenty of them).

It’s time to build “Agile Culture,” not just an agile method for a team.

What does this mean? It means taking intentional time deeply understanding the ‘system’ or people’s needs. It means, taking time to understand what’s at play, what’s at work, currently. It means that each organization is different. It means that templates won’t work. It means that processes that you used at a previous client won’t work.

Is this what you wanted to hear? Probably not.

We want answers. We want them quickly. We want them now.

I’m (personally) tired of templates, of big scaled processes that “work” (they don’t), and a hoard of consultants that think one method will solve it all.

You must take time. It’s costly, yes. But thats how we are the most effective with each of our unique clients. Taking the right amount of time to understand their issues and lay out a unique strategy fit for them.

Welcome to Agile Culture. It’s costly, it takes time… but hell. It’s worth it.

Author: peter

Peter Saddington is an Organizational Scientist and Certified Scrum Trainer. You can find him at AgileforAll.com

4 thoughts on “Agile Coaches Must Understand Culture!”

  1. Yes indeed, Peter! To understand culture, we must take time to focus on people and relationships. In every place and every role, I’m reminded that the first value of the Agile Manifesto begins with “individuals and interactions.” Everything else follows. Thanks for bringing focus to the foreground today!

Leave a Reply