Cultural Patterns – Part 1
Recently I’ve been reflecting on cultural patterns I’ve seen in organizations throughout my career; how I experienced them, their impact, who thrived, who withered.
Over the next several posts, I’ll talk about a few of the patterns I think are key in determining the success or failure of change initiatives, including Agile transformations.
“Get It Done”
A GID culture is about finishing. It’s an environment where success is achieved by reaching a finish line, and reaching it as soon as possible. To be considered “good”, I need to multi-task, finish my work faster and better than the next person, and always be poised for action, ready and willing to take on the next thing to do.
Such an environment values:
- Activity over Inactivity
- “I did it” over “We did it”
- Meeting deadlines over Ensuring quality
- Accountability over Ownership
- Advocacy over Inquiry
- Results over Outcomes
If it’s true that “you get what you measure”, then in a GID culture, what do you get?
- Things that are done….but are they the right things?
- Things that are resolved….not necessarily solved
- Completed work….not improved work
- Competition….not collaboration
- Knowledge hoarding….not knowledge sharing
- Adrenaline….not passion
- Stress….not fulfillment
- Performance measures focused on….individual accomplishment and comparison to a standard
- And lots of meetings….to report status, trade information, plan, assign action items, etc.
In a GID culture, I don’t feel valued for what I bring to the table (my strengths), only for my ability to crank out work. Weaknesses are viewed negatively, as things to be “fixed”, not opportunities to improve. Good doers are promoted, but not supported with mentoring or coaching. Work is reduced to a binary state, done or not done, success or failure. There’s no middle ground, little opportunity or encouragement to grow, no pause to think or reflect, just finish and take on the next thing.
Don’t get me wrong, getting things done is important, and is a cornerstone of Agile delivery. The difference in a GID culture is a lack of balance. And organizations need balance to develop the resilience essential in creating or responding to change.
So that’s what I’ve seen and experienced*….what about you?
[*] Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of management