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The Adoption of “Whole-Culture” Agility

Today, the most effective organizations have moved beyond Agile Teams to the adoption of Whole-Culture-Agility. They’ve come to understand that if Agile Teams work in silos and the whole culture is not on the same page, it remains difficult for new initiatives to be implemented in a way that maintains momentum.

We’ve all watched Olympic relay races that are going well, everything is moving perfectly, and the baton is passed to the second runner and the third, and just before the final stretch, the runner looks away too soon and drops the baton; all for naught. It’s over with. They lose.

Great companies can’t risk losing in the marketplace by failing to effectively transition the innovative work of Agile Teams to another team. Secondary teams may need to drive a truck or fill out a new form or attend a new meeting, but not understand the seriousness and the impact of what that innovative agile team had just discovered for the company.

The Whole-Culture methodology is designed to ensure that the entire organization, from the mail-room to the C-Suite is committed to mastering the traits and mindset of agility.

Digital Leadership and Transformation

Organizations that are going to be successful in the new digital speed of business must be able to transform quicker than their competition.

Leaders must be able to model that. Digital transformation and digital leadership is not really about the new speed of technology. It’s about mindset, behavior, and actions on a day-to-day basis.

Three big concepts drive this. One is customer centricity. Do we really understand our customers? In the digital world where customer is king we need to understand them in a way that we didn’t have to before.

Second is about looking for signals. Are we watching what’s happened externally, and not so focused internally that we’re able to see disruption and respond to it?

Third is about agility. It’s the ability to create open and fluid teams, to really build innovation and creativity into those teams to allow them to fail, to allow them to make mistakes, and learn faster because of that.

It’s the organizations that behave and think differently in a digital space that will win.

The Speed of Teamwork

Teams that can learn together will win in the end.

Teams who can make mistakes, who can fail, who have psychological safety to be able to take risks and feel like it won’t come back to haunt them, who can be creative, and have different ideas in that environment are the teams who win and keep winning.

But it also is about creating some routines, some rituals, some structures around learning that are really helpful. 

Teams, for example, who are committed to teaching others to learn by pushing new responsibilities down to the lowest member. We call it point of the wedge. Put a junior person at the point of the wedge. They have support behind them, but they’re leading that charge. They’re learning faster as a result.

And when these things are put together in a system that has some structure, when routines, behaviors, and new ways of working are put together in a system that happens consistently over time, then you have huge gains as a result. 

Training is Dead. Real Change Rules.

The thing that we’re all after is improvement and lasting change. How do we change ourselves? How do we change our companies? How do we change our teams? How do we get better? And there’s no magic bullet. Change is hard, but it’s done with consistent effort over time with accountability, with feedback, with coaching.

There’s a great article in the Harvard Business Review where the writer basically said that training is dead. And it’s because it’s so hard for people to come from training and then re-enter their old organization.

Yes, training sessions create commitment and emotion, which is a good thing, and people will want to get better. And they’ll have the know-how to get better, but then they re-enter their old environment. And that environment, that culture is so powerful that it will drive away those commitments. So what it really takes, and the biggest challenge is for companies to create a process of development, rather than a development event. And to create accountability and follow up. Create systems even if they’re very small systems, 10 minutes a day in a meeting done over and over again yields unexpected results.

When companies commit to building a process rather than training events, they reach new heights.