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  • Balesh Raghurajan

Growing Culturally

Every time a new technology is introduced there is confusion about what it is and where it can be used. Then there are these enthusiasts who will force fit the technology into every conceivable area to the point that Gartner might even consider removing it from their fancied “S” curve.

Even non-technology concepts have their hype cycles. ISO, Lean, Sig Sigma, TQM, SEDAC, CMM, Agile.

Wait…….Agile?? There’s still a lot of clarity issues, actually the lack of it.

What are the few things that come to your mind when you hear “Agile”?

  • IT process to deliver software projects

  • Stand up meetings

  • Sprint Planning

  • Retrospectives

  • Definition of Done, etc.

If you thought the same as above, then you have understood Agile as a process and not as a mindset. Why is it so hard to cultivate and develop an Agile mindset?

Looking at it from Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, the answer is probably cultural. To develop an Agile mindset, culturally, an organization should preferably be low in Power Distance, Weak in Uncertainty Avoidance and demonstrate Femininity  



Power Distance:

Reduce the perceived and actual gap between Management and employees. Reducing Power Distance will bring down sycophancy and follower mindset while increasing employee confidence, boosting psychological safety and increasing focus on “team work”. Managers also need to pivot from being “In-Charge” to Coaching their teams so that the work to be delivered is “In-Control”



Uncertainty Avoidance:

Removing Fear and mitigating Risks for employees is critical. However, helping them thrive in ambiguity is critical to help them handle business challenges. Firms with poor tolerance for uncertainty put strong processes in place and lay high importance to compliance and kill creativity. Uncertainty or ambiguity is a feeling. Unlike Risks, you can’t put a probability and impact to it. When people have feelings, you talk to them, spend time on understanding their perspective. Then coach them to succeed. Teams that handle uncertainty better are the ones that come out with whack out ideas that excite the customer.



Femininity:

This is not about gender, and purely cultural. While its important to be assertive and be focused on results, the means to do it can take a collaborative and relationship path making an organization a human-centered organization. Human Centered organizations resolve issues and conflicts with a pragmatic win-win situation rather than “winner takes all” approach. Such a culture enhances customer relationships, employee bonding, promotes learning from failure and celebrates success as a team.


Organizations with an Agile Mindset have better adaptability to market conditions and growth only comes naturally to them