Speaking @ Agile 2011 – Salt Lake City, August 8-12 2011

I’ll be presenting “Cultural Architecture” at the Agile2011 Conference in Salt Lake City this August. Here’s an overview of the talk.

If our business culture was a product, how would we re-architect it? Culture influences everything. So how can we influence culture? What tools help us understand cultural influences, from the implicit, the elements we don’t even think about, to the visible, the artifacts that lead to stereotypes? Adopting an Agile culture, when it is under-laid with the cultures of the world is challenging. Reconciling cultural dilemmas drives collaboration and innovation. Culture is the core of it all. Knowing this, you can create a pull for cultural change in your organization.


This will be a talk with slides and interactive Q&A. I invite examples/experiences from the audience and will share a few examples from own experience leading change in a multicultural, global organization.
Learning outcomes:

* Learn about the concentric rings of culture from the core, the implicit, to norms and values, and finally to the visible signs of culture, artifacts and products.
* Learn about rules, relationships, the group and the individual, and how this plays out around the world and in organizations.
* Learn how feeling, involvement and status influence organizational behaviour.
* Arm yourself with tools to help you lead a culture change in your organization.

Sources/basis for presentation:
Several books that influence this talk – listed here: https://rajile.com/books/ – see the Culture and Organizational Change and Business Culture headings.

15+ years experience working across cultures in a 70000+ person company, leading projects spanning India, Canada, US, Germany, South Korea, France, and China. Dozens of languages, religions and perspectives to consider while rolling out Agile around the world in our Wireless business.

Additional Detail:

Culture is a loaded word – so we begin with a definition of culture and the 3 elements that make it what it is. These are; Basic Assumptions, Norms & Values, Artifacts & Products of culture. We’ll look at examples of each and share examples from the audience as well. This sets the foundation for the rest of the talk. 10 minutes

We look at five cultural dimensions – these are continuums along which we all fall. These dimensions are inherent in every organization, because they come not from the organization itself, but from how people are raised and schooled in the countries in which they live.
They are:
1. Universalism versus particularism
2. Communitarianism versus Individualism
3. Neutral versus emotional – the range of feelings expressed
4. Diffuse versus specific – The range of involvement
5. Achievement versus ascription – How status is accorded

This provides some basic tools one can use to evaluate where an organization or team may be before, during and after a cultural transformation. 15 minutes

In a large multicultural organization, how do we reconcile cultural dilemmas so that we have local customization, but still look like one company with common cultural attributes? I’ll share some examples of how a Scrum team in France may differ from one in Canada or one in Germany. Often the issue is not how you guide the team, but how you guide organizational leaders to create room for the team. Teams with strong technical experts regarded as gurus pose a unique problem in countries where titles matter. How do you deal with that when a Scrum team has only 3 roles? 15 minutes

Influencing leaders (not only those in the hierarchy) is the best way to influence cultural change. I will share an example of how one leader went from complete rejection, to healthy skepticism, to a willingness to try, to acceptance, and finally, to becoming a champion for change. 10 minutes

Q&A time 10 minutes


2 thoughts on “Speaking @ Agile 2011 – Salt Lake City, August 8-12 2011

  1. Pingback: What does it mean to have a 100% Agile organization? « rajile

  2. Pingback: Cultural Architecture « rajile

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