How to use Agile methodologies to change organisational culture
Following on from Ntegra’s inaugural Meetup in October, a second Meetup was held on Tuesday, November 27th 2018. This Meetup was the second in a series of three, using Ntegra’s Design Sprint methodology to focus on the question of “How to use Agile methodologies to change organisational culture.”
The second part of our methodology and the focus on this Meetup takes these key themes, encouraging further ideation and then solutioning. Attendees were put into teams and each team was focused on a theme that came from the discussion during the first Meetup.
The exercises undertaken were Ideation and Solutioning. Two teams were created, each assigned a theme coming from the first Meetups top HMWs. The Blue Team looked at Governance and Red looked at Adoption. In the Ideation exercise, the goal was for each team to generate as many answers to the top HMW questions created in the first meetup. The teams were free to choose whichever method they preferred to do this. Whiteboards, sticky notes and pens were provided to aid this. Each team was then given the top four HMWs from their theme (as shown below) and given 20 minutes to generate as many answers as possible. The objective was breadth of ideas and volume of ideas.
Following the Ideation exercise, the teams them moved on to the solutioning exercise. The guidance for this exercise was deliberately kept at a high level so as not to make the process overly formulaic and promote lateral thinking. Each team was instructed to link their best ideas together to form a story which could be presented in less than two minutes.
Both teams followed different approaches for idea linking. The Governance team chose a flow chart approach aligning specific ideas generated in the previous exercise to points in the flow. The Adoption team used storyboarding and listed the ideas they had previously generated as a checklist.
The Governance team presented a story based on the governance structure providing a pipeline of items that were assigned to teams who worked in iterative cycles within an overall process driven culture. By addressing key issues often found in waterfall environments, their story built upon allowing for this sub-culture of agile development to influence and demonstrate success ahead of traditional methods, thereby driving adoption.
The Adoption team’s story focused on selecting a single project that was low cost but high value. By demonstrating success quickly, the business would benefit from the approach of incremental delivery. Additionally, this project would be used to create communication and education material to evangelise the agile approach to other projects. Ultimately this would create knowledge sharing across projects and allow for the creation of communities of practice to further refine and promote best practice.
Two subtly different but complementary stories came from this Meetup on how to How to use Agile methodologies to change organisational culture. The Governance Team’s story aligns with what Ntegra call “capturing the good exceptions”. This is based on using successful exceptions to create new rules and processes, bootstrapping new process if you like. The Adoption Team’s approach in contrast was initially about upfront permission against a fixed timescale. A successful delivery could then be used as a basis for a wider methods change programme. This aligns well with taking a pilot approach to proving a method before then iterating further. Depending upon the existing governance and resources in place in an organisation, either of these approaches could successfully be used to change organisational culture. Those with more latitude and an appetite to trailblaze may well adopt the “capturing the good exceptions” approach, while those who are more constrained would benefit from being explicit with key stakeholders in the beginning, as seen in the Pilot approach by the adoption team.
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