“We need to change our culture” – how many times have I heard that when I am working with organizations trying to adopt an agile approach? Well, I hear it almost every time I give one of our workshops, and it has driven me to change the way I start each workshop by trying to discover the culture of this particular organization, and what it might mean to the workshop participants. In this way I am able to tailor each workshop a little to be as effective as possible for the participants, and have the best effect upon their organization.
In his book “The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making Your Culture Work”, William Schneider introduces a simple, four-part framework for organizational cultures. While most organizations have multiples types of culture, there tends to be one culture-type – “the way things get done around here” – that influences the vast majority of people working in that organization. Understanding this culture serves as an excellent guidepost to determine if adopting agile will be successful, marginal, or a failure.