A Beginners Guide to Agile Culture

Agile Culture

The Agile Learning Guide aims to provide a common pool of information that managers, team members, and customers can refer to. 

The hope is that this will help establish and develop a common language for describing what is meant by the term “agile culture.” 

Having a common foundational language and understanding will set the foundation for creating an agile culture.

Firstly, let’s understand what it means to be ‘Agile?’ 

But before we proceed, we can’t talk about the agile culture without mentioning the #1 agile product management software that product managers rely entirely on. Chisel guides and gives you space to create roadmaps, collect customer feedback, and build team alignment, all the pillars of the agile culture.

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Agile was previously thought of as a set of management strategies applied to software development. 

Agile’s early proponents were software developers, and the Manifesto for Software Development from 2001 served as its founding document. 

Agile is rapidly spreading across all parts and types of organizations fifteen years later, in 2016, following acknowledgment by Harvard Business Review, McKinsey & Company, and the 2015 Learning Consortium Project.

Agile’s rise as a massive worldwide movement expanding beyond software was realizing that becoming agile is the only option for businesses to survive in today’s chaotic customer-driven environment. 

Agile enables businesses to deal with constant change. It enables businesses to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.

Agile businesses can better respond to rapidly changing market needs.

The Agile Manifesto lays out the concepts of agile software development. It places a premium on collaboration, trust, and open communication over tools, procedures, and methodologies.

While all agile strategies allow for a low reliance on requirements and specifications, some are more suited to fostering an agile organizational culture.

  • Multidisciplinary learning and continual adaptation are encouraged.
  • Provide job mobility by avoiding job roles and career trajectories that are set.
  • Value measurements, rather than time and execution, should be tracked.
  • Individual greatness should be rewarded rather than team success.

An increasing number of enterprises worldwide are embracing agility to improve delivery, speed, and customer and employee experience. 

Many firms have hastened their migration to agile in the time leading up to COVID-19. 

Our latest research discovered that agile firms responded more quickly to the crisis. 

In contrast, those who do not adopt agile working may well miss out on the benefits of speed and resilience required in the “new normal” following the COVID-19 epidemic.

Organizations can achieve tremendous gains when they apply agile to large-scale projects. Some of them is the capacity to give fast, frictionless, tailored responsiveness at scale, such as Spotify’s Discover Weekly.

Agile is a mentality as well as a culture. Scrum is a method that has been formalized. The reason behind the creation of scrum was to accelerate product delivery

On the other hand, leaner, less structured programs like DevOps and continuous delivery are more focused on value. 

These programs use a comprehensive approach to application delivery. It covers the entire organization, including business users, integration, and testing. It’s not just about programming.

So, what, then is agile culture? 

An agile culture that favors collaboration and cooperation. It decentralizes decision-making to let teams take ownership of company outcomes and hold them accountable.

Implementing an agile framework takes more than simply a new project management methodology. 

Organizations frequently need to build a new culture alongside the new method for it to take hold and enjoy the benefits.

As Stephen Hawkings has rightly said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Recently, agile teams have dealt with change and uncertainty differently than they did in the past. 

Therefore the words mentioned above will assist and motivate you in adapting to change constructively and more positively. 

Agile Culture Principles

To implement agile principles, you’ll need an executive sponsor who will actively support the change and assemble a team of enthusiastic people about these principles or whatever variation your team chooses.

“These are good ideas that we wish to adopt,” it’s easy to say. Many of the ideas, however, are more challenging to implement than they appear. 

The “Agile Manifesto,” written in 2001 by a small group of IT leaders, lays out the ideas that underpin agile software development. 

Is your company ready to embrace an agile mindset? 

In today’s high-speed, ultracompetitive, clever digital economy, consider the following agile culture tenets to see if your culture, work styles, and behavior are digital enablers or inhibitors.

People Over Processes

Engineers at Spotify organize themselves into overlapping communities based on goals (squads), work environments (tribes), skillsets (chapters), and hobbies (guilds), allowing them to experiment freely with technologies and methods. Employees at Zappos are also encouraged to self-organize.

Dynamics Over Documents

In a dynamic digital environment, relying mainly on pre-scripted documentation does not work. 

Agile teams must be set up for speed, working in small iterations while regularly going back to the original goals and principles.

Creating a diverse team

Diversity can take various shapes, yet most individuals prefer to hire people who are similar to them. 

The more “similar people” there are on a team, the less enticing it is to those who aren’t like them. 

Seed your team with diversity in leadership and leaders that actively value and embrace diversity whenever possible.

Collaboration Over Cascading

The mentality at Spotify and Zappos is less about possessing and more about sharing. 

This collaborative approach has numerous advantages for the company and its people, including improved communication, trust, knowledge sharing, and adaptive and shared leadership.

Maintaining a Steady Pace

Agile teams work hard and collaborate closely, mainly when using pair programming.

Meetings are mostly on-demand and as-needed, with specific goals and held face-to-face. It is because you’re intensely engaging with other people and impacting them if you’re not present; social media and personal distractions are low. 

Working long hours is not sustainable when working at that intensity level. 

However, in many corporate environments, you will be required to work long hours if you work hard or contribute significantly. 

One of the more difficult cultural standards to overcome is this one.

Adaptive Over-prescriptive

Is your company open to disruption, or is it primarily focused on policy and standards? In an agile culture, employees are free to explore answers to the question, “How can it be done?”

Tearing Down Walls and Building Collaborative Spaces

Even outside of traditional corporate facilities, tearing down boundaries and creating collaborative spaces is a difficult concept to sell.

More enterprise firms, on the other hand, more enterprise firms understand the value of collaborative spaces.

Leadership Over Management

Teams  can only achieve enterprise agility if the CIO, executives, and managers consider their roles “serving and enabling.” 

This means that leaders focus on the problem that has to be solved, but teams work out how to solve it.

Agility adoption necessitates a degree of flexibility, inclusion, and, most importantly, C-level support and behavior modeling. 

Only some companies have the desire or flexibility to take this route.

Agile Culture Shift

Many businesses are adopting agility to improve delivery, speed, and the customer and employee experience. 

However, our research suggests that the people dimension—particularly culture—is the most challenging to get right when embarking on an agile transition. 

Use the following lessons learned from firms that have successfully made the transition.

Define the From- To’s

Each company is different, and the new agile operating model should reflect that. 

Make a list of crucial mentality and behavior modifications that would make the most effective based on the current culture.

An effort to clarify cultural from–to’s was one of the first moves taken by a digital-services and telecoms corporation. 

The business identified the behavioral changes teams would require to succeed in the new agile operating model. They aimed to understand the underlying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs driving actions to identify better what changes were required. 

The from–to goals were then condensed into core themes that resonated with colleagues across the organization, were both practical and feasible, and were unique to the business.

Make It Personal

Leaders should provide room and support for their employees to define what the agile mindset means to them. 

Senior executives, middle managers, and frontline employees will all have distinct perspectives on this, with varied ramifications for each.

A biotechnology corporation fostered a deep, personal change process among senior leaders to create an agile culture. 

A four-day immersion program offered the mindsets and talents needed to lead an agile business. More than 1,000 people were invited to develop a more agile approach to leadership.

Leaders learned to notice how their attitudes, emotions, and feelings materialized in the design architecture and culture of the organizations they managed during the program. 

Many participants have started agile experiments with their leadership teams and organizations within six months.

Engineer the Architecture From a Cultural Standpoint

Redesign structures, processes, and technology to support behavioral expectations to sustain a new culture. 

It would help if you hardwired the organizations and transformation aspects with the desired culture shift.

During a change that began in 2018, a telecom engaged in instilling agile mindsets and habits. 

The corporation used structural adjustments on an individual and organizational level. This guaranteed that formal procedures supported this move, aligning employees, customers, business processes, and working environments to an agile culture.

Within weeks, the telco’s physical and virtual workspaces had transformed into collaborative incubators for the new agile culture.

Keep an Eye on Things and Take Notes

Monitoring progress, analyzing behavioral change and its impact on performance, and conducting regular retrospectives to learn from successes and failures are beneficial in successful agile transitions.

Openness to Feedback and Learning Characterizes Agile Cultures

Work is oriented around testing and experimentation. This involves shifting from a right/wrong perspective to asking, “I wonder what this intervention will produce?” or “Let’s try it and see whether it works.”

A leader utilized multiple methodologies in banking agile transformations to track the impact on productivity and numerous parameters of performance, including time to market and volume, as well as employee engagement. 

It also tracked how culture change progressed and affected the overall transformation.

How to Build an Agile Culture?

A company is only as good as its employees. People, on the other hand, are inspired by the organization’s culture since it is the culture that drives the behaviors that make the organization successful.

An agile culture is becoming more recognized as critical for a company’s survival and growth.

An agile mentality is required to create an agile culture. This allows things to move more quickly, with less hierarchy in decision-making and responsibility for making things happen that are in the hands of small agile groups and teams. 

Communication channels have become more efficient and open due to increased transparency.

In a fast-paced digital economy, developing an agile mentality and culture is one way to harness the power of your people to identify methods to be more adaptive, innovative, and resilient. 

Becoming agile is critical for any organization, and you must make the following considerations to establish a long-term agile culture.

  • With strong leadership, support, and safeguard agile values.
  • Assist teams and stakeholders in becoming more self-organized.
  • Outcomes, not outputs, should be used to manage your portfolio.
  • Remove waste and delays from agile teams in a systematic way.
  • With frequent input, measure and enhance the value delivered.

Even before COVID-19, senior executives in large corporations needed help understanding what their people required to implement their company plans effectively. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the requirement for distributed accountability and organizational agility has skyrocketed.

Creating an Agile Culture

Set Away Your Ego

We associate our ego with various things, one of which is personal standing. 

Our ego can sometimes get the best of us, causing us to become more self-absorbed and self-concerned. Therefore, it obstructs our ability to focus on what matters most: achieving outcomes.

With that said, you can’t have an agile work environment if your leaders are just concerned with their titles and authority.

For many people, being a CFO, CEO, or manager is more important than getting things done successfully and efficiently. 

Create a culture that places a higher value on the results workers achieve and the labor or effort they put in than on their position within the company.

Learn To Take Responsibility for Your Actions, Results, and Mistakes

Employees who place a high value on their job title find it difficult to accept their faults because they believe their status gives them insulation from making mistakes. They don’t hold themselves accountable, to put it another way.

Share Your Opinions and Ideas, No Matter How Outlandish They May Seem

Fear is one of the biggest issues we’ve seen among the CEOs and company leaders we’ve worked with. 

Fear itself isn’t a problem; it becomes a problem when it prevents you from offering feedback or taking risks. And for many team leaders and members, the dread begins when they have an idea they’re hesitant to share with their colleagues or senior management.

Repeat the Process of Monitoring, Refining, and Critiquing

The key to maintaining an agile corporate culture is keeping yourself and your teams in check: you should not only keep an eye on your team and constantly develop their plan and method, provide constructive criticism when necessary, and repeat the process.

Don’t Attempt To Achieve Perfection in Anything

Our fear of failing and making mistakes arises from our desire for perfection in everything—our products must be flawless, our services must be great, and if they aren’t, they aren’t worth putting on the market.

Conclusion

You can’t just magically create an agile culture — it is something you have to work forward to. 

In the meantime, a transparent and collaborative environment where people feel safe taking risks (i.e., one that genuinely has trust) will get you pretty far on becoming more agile.

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