If you look at a tree, the roots are invisible, but they play a vital role in the tree's growth. Similarly, the culture of an organization is not often visible, but it plays a vital role in deciding the future of the organization. I want to share my thoughts on this through this article.
The image below (taken from the Internet), illustrates how culture is built and what its influences include.
Both the words culture
include the letter "u." The letter u
is a reminder that each individual — you — will have a critical role in building the culture that decides the future of your organization. This "you" may be at various levels in the organization's ladder. Some times "you" may have control and influence, and sometimes not as much. In any case, "you" in any role should play a part in creating a collaborative culture that helps build a great future for your organization.
To create a collaborative and long-lasting culture, you must make some changes in all levels of the organization. This is especially true if you would like to adopt an Agile culture, in which the focus is more on customer value delivery and adapting to the dynamic changes that inevitably occur.
It is important to have a Lean structure instead of a strong hierarchical one. Having a Lean structure helps in:
- Minimizing feedback loops
- Reducing rework
- Improving collaboration
- Sharing a collective commitment
- Having a common vision
The fifth principle behind the Agile Manifesto says, "Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done." To that end, the leadership team should clearly understand that they must establish trust across the organization at all levels, and make sure it is sustainable and not short-lived. Also, leaders influence behaviors
, so they should always practice ethics, transparency, open communication, and honesty.
At various levels, such as delivery teams, "people" include product management, sales and marketing, HR, finance, and other supporting units of the organization. While creating a great culture, do not focus only on delivery teams; they are just one part of the group. Without considering the remaining parts, you cannot create the right culture. For example, when you transform into an Agile environment in which teamwork is given importance, an individual performance appraisal system may not work effectively.
If you are a team member, make sure you show openness in all your activities, including:
- Estimating your work
- Updating your work periodically
- Highlighting the risks as and when they appear and, most importantly, not highlighting only the problems but also thinking about the various options for solving those problems
- Supporting the team members when they need it, and not hesitating to take help from them
- Eliminating waste in your work through innovative thinking (automation, face-to-face communication, etc.)
Standards and policies
In an organization's strong hierarchical structure, the command-and-control approach plays an important role, so the standards and policies may be designed to include work flows and various levels of approval procedures. Also, decision making may not be decentralized. But when it comes to a collaborative culture, the standards and policies and work flows should be as Lean as possible, to decentralize the decision making and to practice accountability.
Also, look at the tools that your organization uses and adjust them so that they're suitable for a collaborative environment. Depending on circumstances, you might need to replace the existing tools and introduce new ones.
To create a sustainable culture, you must build a compensation model that is suitable for collaborative and team-based delivery. To achieve this, HR policies have to be completely revamped, and the traditional bell curves may have to be reconsidered to make the necessary changes. We cannot force-fit traditional appraisal systems into Agile environments. A 360-degree performance appraisal model, a focus on team-based salary appraisal, and less focus on individual salary appraisals might work. However, a periodic inspect-and-adapt of these models and involvement of all levels of the organization (transparency) will help to derive suitable models over time. Don't just copy a model that worked for another organization; it may not work for yours because every organization is unique.
Environment and atmosphere
To create a great culture, it is important to have a "playground" kind of environment in which people can work together easily, encourage constructive disagreements, have a common vision, and understand why they are doing the work they do. This is not so easy to create, and it cannot be achieved in a short time. Involve everyone in making the environmental and atmospheric-related decisions, and be ready to inspect and adapt your solutions.
Keeping large, visible information radiators, sharing best practices and lessons learned, and encouraging feed-forward approaches will help make the environment and atmosphere fun.
To summarize, every individual in the organization has a specific responsibility in the creation of a great culture, to realize a better future for the organization.
Please share your experiences and feedback on this topic. Thank you.