Over my career, I have worked in a variety of organizations of different sizes in the financial and healthcare industries. As I have progressed throughout my career, I have participated in and witnessed a number of agile transformations on my journey. There was always one thing that seemed to get in the way of new ideas or approaches to work, regardless of whether those ideas would be helpful to the organization or not. And it never mattered whether the idea came down from on high or from the bowels of the organization. I knew there was something in the way but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was. The challenges weren’t always the same. And in most cases there were multiple challenges at the same time. The challenges ranged from lack of consensus across an organization to one individual with the power to shut down the initiative.
Because I had just come from an agile engagement where this elusive thing (still with no name) was an obstacle to our agile successes, when I arrived at Thrive HDS, I was determined to try to figure out an easier way. I found that the HR Director, Tana Linback, was already laying the foundation that I would need to introduce agile to the organization. Tana was focusing on this touchy, feely, squishy thing called culture. While I had always taken pride in constructing an environment (culture) for the team to be successful, I had not considered the bigger picture and that the culture of the entire workplace is key not just the culture of my team. Did I catch a break or what? I had found someone who had experience and loved to focus on an area that was the missing piece of the agile transformation puzzle. Well, I caught another break soon after. Tana had heard about Agile and Scrum, but didn’t know much about it but was intrigued. My agile journey was changing direction in a major way.
Fast forward to November 12, 2015. Tana speaks at APLN, a Chicago Agile User Group (check them out here http://www.meetup.com/APLN-Chicago/) delivering a presentation titled “Culture Eats Agile for Breakfast”. The presentation shares our experiences and what we learned while working at Thrive HDS and IHIE, highlighting the key role culture plays. Throughout the presentation and the Q&A that followed, I noticed a lot of nodding heads and smiles of agreement in the audience. A number of folks in the crowd had similar experiences. (Several posted their reactions here http://www.meetup.com/APLN-Chicago/events/225673469/)
Tana did a great job of capturing and then sharing the experiences and lessons learned. As we talked on the drive back to Indy, we both agreed this was a great first step. It’s time to take step 2.