A well-known coach in the agile community is famous for saying, “To be successful with an agile transformation, you need to change culture.” Those of us who’ve led enterprise agile transformations know that changing culture is NOT easy.
Let’s start with a working definition of culture: A group’s shared values and beliefs; cultivated by leadership; codified in policies and rules; manifested in customs and behaviors; and, reflected in a common history.
Many agile transformation leaders try to change culture by changing behaviors, known as Lewin’s change model. Lewin’s change model works…sometimes. In particular it works when the people who need to change have a desire to change, but don’t know how. Stated differently, they have a conceptual understanding of what a transformation is, but they don’t have an operational understanding.
In order to be successful with an agile transformation, you do need to change culture. But the approach needed differs based on the organization, the people and the situation. This image of “the culture tree” shows why. Changing culture requires changing the roots, not just the leaves and the branches.
So, when the people who need to change aren’t sure they want to change, what should we do? And, how do we know? The answer is to use plays — proven patterns that fit your situation — like the ones in the Agile Transformation Playbook.
To learn how to use the Agile Transformation Playbook, read the next page, “Implementation, Adoption or Transformation?“.