“Culture is a consequence when you implement a new way of working”, is apparently stated by many organisations who help organisations transform to an Agile WoW. Seriously?!

Earlier this week I had a chat with a person who told me that 5 different companies proposed their offering for Agile way of working to that organisation and those 5 companies each told that a changed culture was the consequence of implementing new way of working and you should not invest in advance in managing culture because in the end … well your culture is changed. You’re wrong!

Well, let me tell you this: the consequence is that if you look at it that way, you’ll probably end up in some sort of ‘dead valley’-culture. Values and beliefs are unclear and nobody knows what just actually happened, and suddenly you’ll end up with a scorched earth in front of you, asking yourself as manager:”What did just happened here?”

Let it be clear. When you want to transform an organisation’s most valuable resource, thus transforming the way of working of your human capital, you can’t just state that the newly desired culture of your organisation will probably be a consequence! It’s hard work. Everybody knows the saying:”Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. A new way of working is very much an act of a changed strategy. So it’s very likely that your current culture will overtake and even kill your strategy when you don’t work on this! A changed culture with the desired outcome is the result of efforts!

There have been many attempts to define culture. The most common definition describes culture as a system of values and beliefs which we share with others, all which gives us a sense of belonging or identity. 

“People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it!”, said Simon Sinek. When you want to set things in motion, you need your people to believe what you believe. “The why”, would Sinek say, “drives the decision of people”.

I believe that organisations choose to transform their way of working because it’s their belief they can become a better version of themselves if they reorganise. But without a sparkle of inspiration, a word about the reasons, an explanation about the future preferred state, nothing will change for the better. People will never understand, unless you’ll start addressing their intrinsic motivation. And this is just the starting point. Getting people engaged, empower them to make things happen and constantly keep them focused and on track, is very hard work. It’s not about coaching the process, it’s about making people understand and feel what you, as an organisation want to achieve. Your employees’ belief should be the same as the the organisations’. And you don’t achieve this by tricking people into a new process and simple coach them on that process. Before you coach the process, you want your people to fully understand and believe what you believe. That’s the only way you organisation, and so your people, will benefit from the change in the end. And change is hard work!  

Empiricism

When you want your organisation to work Agile, you need to understand that it possibly need to make a shift from rational thinking towards empirical thinking. This is radical! The generations in the workplace nowadays were raised in an era that is was better to think twice, overthink the actions before doing, think about the consequences before handling. In Agile, we don’t stop thinking but we redefine the way we should think in order to get agility: inspect and adapt; learn from what you experience and act accordingly. It’s sounds pretty easy, but it’s harder than you would think to get everybody to think and act that way.

Mel Gibson once said:”Old habits die hard. If you don’t kick them, they kick you!”. As an organisation, you need to give your employees every possible reason and tools to kick the old habits out!  Unfluff the fact that culture is not tangible. Don’t go for just a consequence.