A culture grows with a company to create an environment, from its shared values, attitudes, and how things get done, whether explicitly specified or not. Once established, it has momentum; to change, it must evolve.

Culture Supporting Agile Mindset

Lets formalize what makes a production culture of collaboration and continuous improvement to enable faster deliverables of value. I enjoy the description of information-age vs. industrial-age management as described by Geoffrey James in Success Secrets From Silicon Valley   An information-age corporate culture has agile-compatible notions.

  • Business >  Ecosystem, not a Battlefield
  • Corporation > Community, not a Machine
  • Management > Service, not Control
  • Employee > Peer, not a Child
  • Motivation > Vision, not based on Fear
  • Change > Growth, not Pain

Mutual respect is a binding force of these notions. Companies in an ecosystem respect each other’s roles, rather than try to “crush the competition”. In fact, from coaching we learn that the origin of the term compete comes from striving to make each other better. Managers and team members have equal distinction. Trust, earned from integrity, has to be high enough for employees to be able to speak the truth. Collaboration depends on the safety of speaking freely. Invention and problem-solving do too.

Servant leadership is a notion from Agile that relates to the cultural notion that management is service for team members, not a control mechanism for directing them. These employees are peers learning how to direct themselves and problem-solve with coaching help from managers who can also remove obstacles in their path. Managers and team members continuously learn from each other how to improve. At the same time, directors and supervisors provide a motivating vision for the team.

Modern production can take on large tangled and complex projects whose execution may need to change as the project progresses. We need to think of this change as growth and learning, rather than painful mistake-ridden missteps toward an end-goal. In Agile is Not a Process, It’s a Mindset, Lisa Rich redefines how to look at failure in order to learn. We grow from continuously learning and improving. We motivate through this complexity with a vision, instead of the fear of failing or being fired. The vision helps us take one small step at a time to improve value. And the vision itself may evolve as the complexity of the project evolves.