How to Shift Slow Cultures into High Gear

How leaders work with their colleagues and teams over the next few weeks can make or break innovations, capabilities, and business impacts over the next 3-9 months.

Gear Up Your Culture

As a leader, you have to look for the inflection points when you can have teams' attention and where you can shift gears to higher faster ones. The week or two after Labor Day is one of those points, as is the first couple of weeks in January. Leaders can also create their own inflection points by communicating pivots to their digital transformation strategies.

As I said in my last post, digital transformation is not a 9-5 job, and at some point, leaders must see their teams listen, respond, plan, and accelerate. So the question I've been asked often is, how do you get a culture that's used to operating slowly and raising the speed bumps, to one that's pushing the gas pedal a little harder to meet business goals?

Don't Try Building Rome in a Day

The answer is not by trying to build Rome in a day. That's the mistake leaders make during these periods of inflection - they invest significantly in their presentations and town halls to get everyone aligned. And hopefully, they've followed by recommendations on reducing the number of priorities so that teams are aligned. 

And then they see everyone going back to their day jobs. Whatever was on their task list from the week before is still there, and so they go back to notching work off this list. Hopefully, some of the work tied to the leadership priorities filter down to their list. But this just changes what employees are working on and now how they are working.

Even teams with maturing agile practices and multi-team collaborations have the challenge of converting priorities into accelerated execution. Backlogs get filled, teams reset sprint priorities, and the best agile organizations will use sprint retrospectives to improve velocity. But this doesn't necessarily translate to faster delivery and business impact. For these teams, they have addressed elements of how they are working, but not necessarily why and where they are defining their agile principles. 

Without agile principles defining the track, teams have a wide course to drive on which often results in slower execution, missed turns, and unexplored opportunities. 

Five Steps to Shifting into Higher Gears

Higher gears come from five practices

If you want to tackle these issues, please dive into the details. Powerpoints and town halls don't change the culture!

What are Agile Principles?

Here is a my definition:

Agile principles help organizations, teams, and people self-organize, understand their decision-making authority, and have guidelines on making smarter, faster, and safer decisions aligned with organization strategy - Isaac Sacolick

The agile manifesto gives agile organizations a starting point, but not the answer. And these principles may work well for software development. But the language and practices does not fully apply to other areas where agile methodologies are applied, including data science, IT operations, marketing, and other business functions.

Every organization is different. Your agile principles need to be established based on strategies, goals, and how you need to change your culture. They need to be grounded in transformational practices in product management, data, and continuous agile planning.

Ready to get started with agile principles? 3 ... 2 ... 1.... Don't miss the starting gun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are moderated and we do not accept comments that have links to other websites.


About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.