The 16th Annual State of Agile Report recently become available from digital.ai. They provided us with key insights from this continuous annual survey of agile practices and techniques. This year’s Report holds insights from over 3,000 people who shared their experiences from a people, process, and tools perspective. We will explore some of these trends and challenges that have come to light, how this may affect your own agile adoption, and possible tips to move past.
One of the key takeaways from the Report is the quick rise of lightweight scaling frameworks over heavyweight alternatives. We also continue to see respondents highlighting the benefits of agility through increased collaboration, better alignment to business needs, and improved working environment. On the other side, we are seeing opportunities around culture, leadership, and consistency for successful agile adoptions. Here, we will explore the leadership participation & challenges in organization culture within agile adoption and scaling.
Role of company culture on successful agile adoption: Findings from the Report
Looking deeper into the Report, we see that 40% respondents are dissatisfied with agile at their organization, as statistics show that agile practices frequently clash with company culture. In fact, company culture is listed as the leading “cause of unsuccessful delivery with agile”.
Organizational culture can be described as a set of customs, traditions, and actions held by groups of people within an organization. An organization’s culture helps connect people, gives them an identity, and causes them to act in specific ways or perform certain motions.
When an organization transforms the way it works, its most important assets - its people - are being asked to adopt a new identity, change the way they perform and alter their mannerisms. This shifts them to a new and uncertain space. They no longer have something comfortable to fall back on.
Known from previous reports from as far back as 2009, if your organization’s culture is either clashing with or outright hostile to agile principles and values, the prospect of success beyond isolated pockets of agile teams are slim.
How is agile not supportive of a company’s culture?
Here are some possibilities that can create a clash with organization culture:
- Lack of trust
- Hierarchical management – reactive leaders managing the work instead of enabling teams
- Communication breakdown and dependency management
- No clear picture of the goals
- Org and team design don’t allow for seamless delivery
- WIP – the senior levels request for too many features
- Business model not compatible with agile
How can organizations reduce clashes with culture to improve agile adoption?
The following (questions) should be asked when questioning measurements to reduce clashes with organizational culture to increase the % of agile adoption:
- Is there an understanding of the required broader organizational change?
- What is the level of Change Management fatigue?
- Is the transformation being done to teams instead of inviting them as participants?
- What is the value alignment?
- What is the level of leadership development?
Understanding that agile impacts organizational values and facilitating that transformation is the first step to having broader agile adoption and more success with agile as a means to successful delivery.
What does this mean for you?
If you want to transform to an agile way of working, taking time to think about your organization’s culture will increase your chances of success. We must also remind ourselves that management brings the weather with it and impacts success. Start with making sure the agile culture is a good fit for your business model and organizational values. Build your change management team that aligns with core values and principles of agile while transforming the whole organization. Support your leadership to model the new behaviors, co-create your change strategy and communicate what success looks like.
What’s in it for you?
The above information can help you in your journey of an agile transformation within your organization. An organization can reject the introduction of agile as they perceive it as an alien concept, and it is hard to change. Let’s support these changes with champions that can coach leadership, teams, and individuals to learn new habits and behaviors.
Is your organization struggling with cultural clashes during its transformation? Is your leadership feeling overwhelmed on how to transition from managing the work to enabling teams? We, at Nagarro, have years of experiencing enabling organizations in transitioning to agile. We also coach the leadership to change from command-and-control behaviors to enabling teams and supporting the change. Reach out to discuss more on how we can help you.