Today, Scrum has become one of the most widely adopted Agile frameworks. It enables teams and organizations to deliver value iteratively and incrementally, adapt to changing requirements and foster collaboration and self-organization. The influence of Scrum extends far beyond software development, shaping the way teams approach complex work across various industries. But how did everything begin and what were the main landmarks along the way? Here is a brief summary of the history of Scrum.
There are endless resources, tools, and guidelines for professional coaching, but what makes coaching so magical is that it is an intensely personal experience for the coach. And yet, the personal is often missing when people talk about coaching.
In this webinar, ICF-accredited coaches, Pascal Papathemelis and Ebru Yalcinkaya share a personal insight into professional coaching. They talk about their journey, what they have struggled with, and what they have done to grow as a coach – so that you can, too.
Have you ever wondered how you can nudge your company culture in the right direction? At agile42, we use the principles of ORGANIC agility to do that. ORGANIC agility® is an approach that we developed by working with hundreds of companies around the world. It provides a new leadership approach, models for cultural change, and insight into complexity thinking. The first principle of it is to Increase cultural awareness and coherence. It is only once we understand this that we can shape and improve our company culture. Let’s dive into what that means.
The culture of an organization is like its DNA. It represents the collective set of beliefs, values, and behaviors that define its character. I have always been interested in people: I love communicating and getting to know someone new. I am curious about what motivates people and what makes them become disengaged. At agile42, I am often the go-to person for individuals who are facing personal challenges or conflicts with colleagues. Through these experiences, I have witnessed first hand how leaders can shape organizational culture, for better or for worse. I believe that both HR professionals and leaders are responsible for shaping culture, as our actions and attitudes set the scene for the rest of the organization. But traditional organizational culture surveys are failing us, and preventing HR and leadership teams from being able to do their best work.
Company culture is often associated with having a ping pong table in your office, after-work drinks on a Friday, or a framed value statement on your wall. But organizational culture is so much more than that, and it is the driving force behind innovation, growth, and sustainability. In this article, we will explore different types of organizational culture that exist and the signs of a toxic one, plus how you can work towards a culture that is more aligned with your goals.
During my recent travels for business around the world, I’ve noticed something that struck me in all places I visited. Let me be provocative about it.
Introduction: Are you tired of people around you losing the passion for work? Everywhere you look, it seems like employees are more disenchanted with their jobs than ever before. From restaurants struggling to find qualified service staff to employees taking more sick leave than usual, it’s clear that something is wrong.
But what could be causing this global shift in work ethic? Despite vast cultural differences across various countries and industries, the trend persists. It’s a question that demands our attention, and the answer may be more sinister than you think.
Getting better results often requires a shift in organizational culture. But culture is about far more than just beanbags, table football, and free snacks.
While we can’t design company culture, we can influence and monitor it. In this webinar, Giuseppe De Simone and Simon Sablowski explore why a coherent organizational culture is so important and the different types of cultures that exist. They give a detailed guide on how we can influence and measure our company culture to build one that is more conducive to our goals, as well as how agile42’s OrgScan™ tool can help you to achieve this.
Change is inevitable, and organizations must address this challenge by reinventing themselves and becoming more resilient. A crucial step towards achieving this is to focus on growing leaders of change in your organization.
As a child, I recall being curious, eager to explore, and spending countless hours building Lego castles for imaginary heroes. My friends and I were spontaneous and experimental, always willing to try new and often adventurous things. However, reflecting on my time in school and my experience as a teacher, I realize that our school systems have failed to cultivate these qualities. Instead of being encouraged to learn from mistakes, I was taught that mistakes are bad, risk-taking is dangerous, and asking challenging questions is disruptive.
However, today’s world of work highly values these ‘lost’ capabilities. We now recognize that innovation, change, and resilience cannot be achieved through traditional management styles alone. When we foster a culture and mindset of adaptability within the workforce, organizations can succeed and reach their goals.
From Managers to Leaders
The connections between school and the workplace are easy to draw. Our traditional management and teaching styles of planning, organizing, and expecting results has worked in the past, but times have changed. Employees no longer work solely for money; they want to be part of something greater, to understand a company’s vision and mission, and feel like a part of its success.
For organizations this means a shift from management to leadership. We need leaders who can inspire and motivate their teams to adapt and innovate. We need leaders who can create a shared vision, empower their employees, and foster a culture of creativity and innovation.
The Importance of Leadership in Building Resilience
In addition to changes in the market, organizations must also navigate unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic, which require resilience and agility. Effective leadership plays a crucial role in developing a resilient company by fostering a culture of creativity and innovation and empowering employees to take responsibility.
At agile42, we approached the pandemic with this in mind. Since we were already a widely distributed team, remote and hybrid work was not a significant challenge for us. That was not the case, however, for many of our clients. We supported them in transitioning to remote work and overcoming related challenges such as effectively working from home and implementing the effective processes.
Internally, we had to make some changes too. We transformed our content and teaching methods to the remote environment by developing e-learning courses that included expert knowledge and our unique style of interaction, motivation, and methodology. This allowed our clients to learn at their own pace from where they were located in the world, and in their preferred language. Resilience was the key capability that enabled us to adapt quickly and effectively.
Building Leadership in
Leadership involves motivating and inspiring teams, promoting a culture of creativity and innovation, and establishing strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect. But leadership is not only about top-level employees: many of the most successful companies build leadership into every level.This involves creating a leadership mindset within the organization, where team members have the necessary skills and expertise to solve problems and make their own decisions within their area of expertise. By building leadership in, employees can take ownership of their work, make better decisions, and continuously learn and improve.
A Unique Approach to Leadership
At agile42, our approach to leadership is one of the ways we help organizations make meaningful changes. It’s called ORGANIC agility and it is a human-centric approach to organizational agility. It emphasizes the importance of people, collaboration, and continuous learning. The ORGANIC approach recognizes that organizations operate in a complex and uncertain environment, and seeks to help them become more resilient and adaptable to change.
There are five key principles to the method, supported by the various methods, processes and structures we employ.
Cultivating a Culture of Trust
Trust is an essential ingredient for resilience, enabling teams to collaborate and respond to challenges with confidence. ORGANIC agility emphasizes the need to build trust through transparent communication, mutual respect, and collaborative work.
The ORGANIC agility approach urges organizations and leaders to experiment and learn from their experiences. This helps to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and opportunities, which in turn fosters resilience.
Promoting a Learning Mindset
A mindset of continuous learning helps organizations to become and remain agile and adaptable in the face of change. It builds resilience by encouraging constant improvement as well as the development of new skills and knowledge.
Encouraging self-organization and distributed decision-making empowers individuals to take ownership of their work and respond to challenges as they arise. When individuals can act proactively and quickly, companies are more resilient.
The ORGANIC agility framework recognizes that people are an organization’s most valuable asset and prioritizes their well-being and development. Resilient organizations are built on a culture of support and care, and prioritize helping individuals cope with challenges and setbacks, promoting their growth and development.
How can ORGANIC agility help you?
ORGANIC agility provides a modern leadership approach that supports the kind of agility and resilience required of today’s businesses. When your business and your leaders embrace the principles of ORGANIC agility, leadership teams can foster a culture of creativity and innovation, empower employees to take responsibility, and build trust and respect across the organization. This approach can help you to adapt quickly and effectively to changing market conditions and unforeseen events, and to achieve sustainable success in the long run.
Reach out to us if you want to find out more about how we can help your organization.
What is the Great Resignation?
The term Great Resignation defines the elevated rate at which employees started to voluntarily quit their jobs beginning in early 2021: during that year more than 40 million people left their jobs in the United States alone. Management professor Anthony Klotz coined the term and then a number of other names came to describe the same trend: the Great Renegotiation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Rethink. Klotz believes that the rise of hybrid and remote work helped cause the phenomenon; he says: “How we spent our time before the pandemic may not be how we want to spend our time after.” And it hasn’t affected everyone equally: women have been more affected by the Great Resignation than men, and younger age groups more than older ones.
Great Resignation Statistics
According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the “Great Resignation” in the United States saw a record of more than 4.5 million workers leave their jobs voluntarily in March 2022, which equals to 3% of the total workforce. A similar quit rate was matched for several months following this initial wave.
And there seems to be no signs of slowing down: in the summer of 2022 40% of U.S. workers and 20% globally were still considering quitting their jobs before the end of the year. These are enormous numbers when we consider that recent layoffs in the tech industry, which are considered to be a sign of a looming crisis, amount to roughly 5-6% of the workforce in that specific industry.
However, this has not started with the pandemic. Data shows that from 2009 to 2019, the average monthly quit rate increased by 0.1% each year: the pandemic has just accelerated the pace.
But what about Europe specifically?
Shortly after the pandemic, there was the feeling that European-based companies were watching the Great Resignation happening in the United States from a safe distance, confident that their people would not be affected. After all, many European countries had strong social safety nets in place to support both employers and employees during the last disruptive years. However, recent data shows that there is a shift taking place, as demonstrated by a rise in job vacancies: about 3% of jobs in the EU were vacant in the third quarter of 2022, with Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands reaching a record of 5%.
One might think: shouldn’t Europeans have nothing to complain about compared to Americans, because of shorter working hours, longer holidays and stronger support from the government? Well, it seems that employees from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean – and across the globe – are quitting their jobs for largely similar reasons.
Why is The Great Resignation Happening?
The COVID-19 pandemic allowed people to rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals: the many quarantines, lockdowns, health scares, and unfortunate deaths have caused people to reconsider the role of work in their lives. That shift in perspective is likely one reason to have motivated some workers to quit, especially those who were burning out in demanding jobs that intruded on their ability to care for and spend time with their families. However, there are other reasons too.
Flexibility and Work-Life Balance
During 2021, many workplaces attempted to bring their employees back to offices for in-person work. But workers had started to desire the freedom that remote work offered, and many people had become used to it during the pandemic. Schedule flexibility was the primary reason to look for a new job, according to a Bankrate study in August 2021. In research done in February 2022, the majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 said unfair pay, no opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons why they quit. Roughly half said childcare issues and a lack of flexibility were the reasons they quit a job.
Perhaps in Europe, the effect was manifested later, because of the stronger government support during the pandemic. But as the war in Ukraine started and the fears about climate change grew during 2022, people increasingly began to reflect on what matters most to them. Many of them decided they no longer wanted to work in a job they were not passionate about and switched to an employer that offered more opportunities for growth, purpose, and a healthy work-life balance.
High levels of burnout
Another driver has been the high levels of burnout that many people are experiencing. According to recent statistics, up to 50% of workers in Europe report symptoms of burnout during their careers. This seems to be one of the after-effects of the pandemic and the increasing use of technology, which has made it more difficult for people to disconnect from work. Of course, causes of burnout might depend on personal circumstances, but it has certainly contributed to an increasing number of people quitting their jobs in search of more fulfilling and less stressful work environments.
A Lack of Purpose and Appreciation at Work
A third reason has been a growing sense of disappointment, especially among younger employees in Europe who feel that their jobs could be more meaningful and that they are not fully appreciated for their work. This has even contributed to the so-called “hidden resignation wave” also known as “quiet quitting”, where people remain in their jobs but are disengaged and unproductive. This can be even more damaging to organizations. It can lead to a drop in productivity and morale, as well as a consequent drop in customer satisfaction. Strangely enough, while European countries are considered the happiest places on Earth according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report, Europe scores a mere average of 14% in terms of employee engagement, which makes Europeans unhappier in their workplace than anyone else in the world.
The Great Resignation seems to be a great example of what can happen in an extreme case of inappropriate leadership and company culture, combined with people being forced to re-evaluate life priorities.
Toxic culture is driving the great resignation
According to The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture, a report from the Society for Human Resource Management, the number one indicator of a toxic workplace culture is high employee turnover, which has cost U.S. employers more than $223 billion over the past five years (to put that in perspective, it is roughly the 2022 GDP of a developed country like Finland). The report shows that the majority of workers (76%) consider their managers responsible for setting the culture and 58% of employees who quit a job say their managers are the main reason they left.
Obviously, leadership and company culture play a significant role in shaping the disposition and the feelings of employees. Good leaders and an appropriate company culture can foster a sense of engagement, purpose, and meaning among employees, while poor leadership and a negative company culture can lead to feelings of disengagement and apathy. It is important for leaders to create an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and empowered to contribute and for companies to promote a positive culture that values employee well-being, promotes open communication, and encourages employee participation in decision-making.
However, as Derek Thompson reflects, “this high level of quitting, is really an expression of optimism that says: We can do better”. Companies can too. Organizations that rethink and renew their cultures can win in the battle to attract and retain talent.
How to Keep Employees During the Great Resignation
One thing is for sure: the dynamic between employees and employers has shifted.
Employees want more from their employers than just a paycheck. They want to be challenged, they want to work in an environment where they can bring their whole selves, and they want leaders to be authentic. Recent research shows that employees who feel cared for at work, are almost four times more likely to recommend working for their company.
Companies have no choice but to address the problems listed above if they want to keep their people and attract more talent. There are five key ways they can improve.
- Improve working conditions and create a more positive and supportive work environment, including better support for work-life balance.
- Address the new “burnout pandemic” and take actions to prevent burnout. This may involve reducing workloads and promoting a culture of self-care and belonging.
- Increase employee engagement and create the conditions that encourage people to feel more connected to their work.
- Offer a fair compensation and make sure that people feel rewarded.
- Offer employees the opportunities to learn and grow.
Skills development is key
Companies that excel at skills development retain employees twice as long as companies that struggle with it. By allowing employees to expand their skills and creating a culture of continuous learning, companies can develop Learning & Development strategies that improve employee engagement and retention and ultimately business success. Engaged employees impact the company’s ability to innovate, delight customers and beat the competition.
Leaders play a unique role in creating a culture where all employees feel empowered to learn and develop their skills. But leaders need support to engage their people. Companies that invest specifically in leadership skills can benefit from a multiplier effect across the whole organization.
Embarking on a journey towards agility often requires a shift in organizational culture. Agility is more than just a set of rules and practices. It calls for a mindset attuned to agile values and principles. Failure to extend this change to organizational culture can end the agile transition before it even begins.
Every organization has its own unique culture – a particular way of how things are done within the organization. It is articulated by how people in the organization behave and interact with one another, which in turn depends on traditions, beliefs, habits and expectations. It evolves as people inside the organization grow, mature and their relationships develop, or when new people join the organization with fresh new ideas. Who we are has as much impact on organizational culture as how we behave and the large view or picture of a culture may often seem complex, intangible and abstract enough to defy definition.
How can we understand organizational culture?
At agile42, we aim to gain insight to an organization’s culture by using the Organizational Scan™ (OrgScan). We developed the tool by incorporating decades worth of research, experience and technology. With OrgScan we try to capture people’s interactions, decision-making approaches and emotional responses and in doing so create a picture of the organization’s culture.
OrgScan collects real-time data about decisions that people are making within the organization and how these decisions affect people. Capturing this data in the form of micro-narratives provides both qualitative and quantitative information through data points and their position, which allows us to recognize patterns and shifts. It makes an organization’s culture, leadership and employee engagement transparent and provides insight into improvement opportunities.
One of the most interesting results of an OrgScan is how different factors of decision-making influence how decisions are perceived. These factors can include decision-making speed, individual or team autonomy, clarity of communication and the perception of the appropriateness of leadership behavior. Analyzing interdependencies between these factors can provide insights into an organization’s resilience, its capability to respond to internal and external challenges.
OrgScan is based on Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework, The Cynefin Company’s SenseMaker® technology, Linda Doyle’s Vector Theory of Change as well as the renowned Competing Values Framework as described in the book Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn. Due to its significance to this case study, we would like to elaborate more on the Competing Values Framework.
What is the Competing Values Framework?
The Competing Values Framework is an established model to describe organizational culture. It takes into consideration organizational behaviors, approaches, beliefs and values.
As the name suggests, it looks at competing or conflicting factors that can create tensions within organizational culture along two dimensions.
- The first dimension, flexibility versus stability, describes the degree to which the culture strives for diversification and individuality compared to aiming for standardization and control.
- The second dimension, internal versus external orientation, describes whether the organization focuses more on processes, roles and responsibilities or more on market demands, customer needs and competition.
These two dimensions form four quadrants which represent a distinct culture type with the following characteristics:
- Leadership behavior is the dominant behavior of the leaders within a group, which impacts group organization and emerging culture.
- Orientation to work is the way in which work is approached.
- Theory of effectiveness is the underlying theory leading to success within an organization. This is often propagated through stories of success and failure.
- Value drivers are the internalized values and motivators amongst people working in a specific group or context.
Four types of organizational culture
No organizational culture is present in only one of the four quadrants. Any culture has characteristics of all four culture types. It should be well balanced while being suited for the organizational purpose.
The Collaborate culture is internally focused and strives for diversification. People want to develop things together and sustainably. They value teamwork and nurture relationships, and their commitment to developing themselves and others holds them together. Favoring consensus means that decision-making can take longer. We would expect this type of culture in universities, local communities or social services.
The Control culture is defined by a strong internal focus and a need for standardization. People strive for perfection and focus on assessing and measuring performance, controlling processes, finding ways to improve efficiency and enhancing quality. Procedures govern what people do. This culture does not take risks because failure is not an option which can hinder innovation. We would expect this type of culture in an aircraft’s cockpit, an emergency room or administrative offices.
The Create culture is also geared towards diversification but, in contrast to Collaborate, it has a strong external focus. These are entrepreneurs, artists, visionaries and disruptors. People in an organization are held together by their shared vision. They experiment and try out new ideas, speculate about the future and continuously try to come up with innovative solutions. They are natural risk-takers and will always see an opportunity in a problem. However, they typically lack processes and routines. This type of culture is common in early-stage startup companies and the tech industry.
The Compete culture combines an external focus and a drive for standardization. People within a competitive culture are very much like athletes: hard drivers, focused on goal achievement and on short term gains. They are more concerned about winning competitions or closing deals than the sustainability of the future which is why they appreciate quick responses and decisiveness. They strive to increase profit or market share and may therefore fail to focus enough on people’s development and well-being. Typically, we would expect this type of culture in a sales organization or advertising agencies.
How do we get the culture we need?
Unfortunately, we cannot design or plan an organizational culture because it is the product of multiple complex interactions between people as well as the interdependencies of rituals, processes and policies established by the organization.
Due to its complex nature, an iterative and incremental approach is the only way to influence organizational culture. In order to nudge the culture towards greater coherence, the best place to start is with leadership behavior. Changing how we behave as leaders will naturally influence the way work is carried out. If those new experiences turn out to be successful, people will start sharing new stories of success with one another. Once enough people have experienced success adopting a new approach and consequently developed more effective rituals to carry out their work, then eventually the value system will shift and include new values, altering the value drivers of the organizational culture.
Agility is a set of values and principles, or in other words a belief system or mindset. This is why the success of an agile transition depends primarily on the organization’s culture and its willingness to collaborate closely with customers and respond to change flexibly. The complex process of shifting towards a more agile culture is easier for some to manage than others. OrgScan provides both a differentiated perspective of the starting point and facilitates the discovery of the direction for change. It enables continuous feedback by integrating multiple narratives and leaving no voices unheard.
Benefits of OrgScan
Bringing about change in an organization is a difficult process and, unfortunately, often fails. Change initiatives often disregard the complex nature of organizational culture. Rather than following a predefined implementation blueprint, OrgScan is used to envision and enact change in harmony with the existing culture, moving toward the next adjacent possibility and enabling lasting improvement.
The initial assessment provides a mapping of the current cultural profile and connections from the perspective of those within the organization. From there, the goal is to encourage a shift in culture, develop the right leadership capabilities and promote appropriate decision-making through safe-to-fail experiments in order for new patterns and behaviors to emerge that reflect the desired cultural fit for the organization’s purpose. Continuing to use OrgScan to collect narratives and their interpretations provides a continuous assessment of the organization and immediate feedback on developments and changes throughout the organization.
Organizational culture is a complex system at a company’s core. It is both flexible and adaptive, yet rather robust towards large sweeping changes. Tools such as OrgScan serve to highlight the nature of an organization’s culture and detect and monitor avenues through which to encourage and facilitate shifts that align it with developmental goals.
Our case study demonstrates how Organizational Scan™ contextualizes organizational culture, enabling measures that can shift it towards desirable outcomes within the culture’s framework. Our client’s goal was to transition to a more agile way of working in order to shorten time to market and fuel innovation.
Seventy-nine members of the product development organization participated in the OrgScan between August and November 2021. OrgScan provided data and insights to establish a baseline and gain a clearer understanding of the organization’s culture, revealing points of friction to become a basis for further investigation and intervention. agile42 analyzed the data thoroughly and created a comprehensive report that includes key facts, hypotheses and improvement opportunities related to the organization’s goal to strengthen their agility. A few of our findings are summarized below:
Leadership behavior used during the decision-making process
The data shows that the organizational culture is internally focussed. Leadership behavior has a big impact on how decisions are perceived emotionally, with the majority of captured decisions being perceived positively due to a heavier emphasis on collaborative leadership behavior. The data reveals that people generally want to be involved in decisions, even when those decisions are difficult. When managers step in and move towards a more controlling approach, this tends to be perceived negatively since it leads to excluding teams from important decisions.
Reviewing the data, one of the product department’s leaders summarizes:
“Even if the data confirmed many of our gut feelings, understanding the images was an important and crucial step. It is incorrect to assume that decisions made by management are always bad, but we do understand that there are some topics that don’t have to be escalated or should be decided with wider participation. Fortunately, we have a good understanding of which topics these are. This, and the increased understanding of what is appreciated from a cultural point of view, helps us to facilitate important topics in a better, more informed way.”
Time taken for making decisions
Left in green are decisions that were captured and interpreted in a positive light by the participants, while those perceived negatively are on the right in orange. Unsurprisingly, a fast turnaround on decisions was perceived more positively and the organization proved itself competent in this regard, providing fertile ground for agility and innovation.
Leadership behavior vs. time taken
Based on prior findings, the following graph hones in on the decisions made right away and those which took forever:
Collaborative leadership behavior seems to enable rapid decision-making as the first graph shows, while coordinating leadership behavior tends to cause delays. These delays might be the reason people get frustrated. The dominant way of making decisions is collaborative consensus-building, even in critical or difficult situations. People inside the organization generally want to be involved in decisions.
OrgScan data provided a clear preference for collaborative leadership behavior which enabled involvement in the process and a faster turnaround.
Experiment: Designing Career Paths
Based on data gained from OrgScan, interventions and experiments were designed to establish interactions using approaches that would better fit the desired organizational culture. Reflection and feedback on the outcomes of these interventions allowed for further refinement. As explained above, teams appreciate working in a very collaborative manner. Additionally, creative approaches and risk-tolerant approaches to making decisions were becoming increasingly popular, showing a desired shift in culture.
Contrastingly, the organizational culture remains partially anchored in the Control type, which is not always perceived negatively. A closer examination of provided data and narratives gives a clearer picture of when centralized decision-making is appreciated:
- Topics escalated from teams falling under management’s purview are welcomed.
- Management claiming critical decisions for themselves without the team’s involvement generally is perceived negatively.
Efforts by management to facilitate critical decision-making were not received the way they had hoped, causing friction between managers trying to enable their teams and teams feeling excluded from difficult decisions. Teams wanted to be involved, even in issues that ended up escalated to management.
The friction between Collaborate and Control culture types was regarded as the first port of call for change. Through targeted experiments, participants were enabled to move outside of their personal comfort zone and towards a joint starting point for further organizational development.
Based on established narratives and the resulting cultural profile, an area was identified where one-sided solutions would receive an immediate veto from differently oriented parties within the organization: defining roles and career paths for Scrum Masters.
Defining experiment parameters
Designing a career path for a new role provides both a sense of direction and potential for development. The result will impact those affected by it tremendously. However, while the reasoning behind such a step seems clear, the methods chosen could vary greatly when approached from different perspectives and cultural types. Bridging that gap was one of the main challenges during the experiments.
The Scrum Masters’ primary focus was to ensure their career paths were developed in collaboration with the organization’s leadership, while senior management felt it essential that new career paths modeled themselves on existing structures within the organization and remained comparable. Both sides differed both in their priorities and perspectives- Scrum Masters being primarily concerned with collaboration, while senior management wanted to remain within established guidelines.
In an effort to satisfy both sides’ needs, an experiment was designed in which members of senior management and Scrum Masters worked together to identify key parameters of the Scrum Master career path. In order to facilitate swift results, senior management and Scrum Masters agreed to each select three representatives with decision-making power. During four sessions, these representatives were paired up randomly to work on the following questions:
- What are Scrum Masters’ responsibilities?
- How to assess seniority within specific areas of expertise?
- Are requirements for senior positions adequately distributed and comparable across functions?
- How can we map the seniority of a Scrum Master to existing career paths and their understanding of seniority?
Conducting the experiment
Throughout these sessions it proved beneficial to work in iterations to focus the group and aid in tackling an otherwise broad and complex subject in smaller increments. Existing structures and models served to orientate efforts in defining the role and breadth of areas of expertise of a Scrum Master and created common ground among participants.
Taking the cultural needs of the organization and expectations of its people into account during the decision-making process greatly improved the quality of their results and their acceptance of the process. Participants expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the experiment, the way it was executed and the appreciation for each other.
Using the insights from OrgScan to conduct an experiment helped with making better decisions, communicating those decisions effectively and, most importantly, defining the leadership behavior most appropriate in this context.
The challenge was to find a way to bridge the gap between cultures, without initially having much common ground to work from due to a difference in perspectives and approaches aimed at overall improvement. With OrgScan providing data to identify the nature and extent of those differing perspectives, change agents were able to create and run experiments that fostered mutual understanding, broadening viewpoints into a shared baseline from which to continue together. Formerly disparate parties were able to begin redefining culture on their own terms and, using OrgScan, will be able to monitor continuous development and maintain these broadened perspectives.
The product department leader concludes:
“Change agents are receptive to how certain decisions or behaviors affect an organization’s atmosphere. Senior leadership values objective data over subjective impressions. OrgScan data allowed us to validate how decision-making was perceived within the organization and gave voice and factual backing to our impressions. This made it much more tangible for senior management and led to the discussion around agility shifting from a structural debate to a cultural exchange.”
Meet the authors
Simon Sablowski has worked in software development since 2001 and has held various managerial roles in agile environments since 2008.
Simon has been part of agile42 since 2015 and supports organizations by developing leaders and enabling adaptation to the challenges of ever-increasing complexity.
Lothar Fischmann has supported agile transitions and digitalization initiatives since 2015, gaining experience mainly in the automotive and automation industries. As a member of agile42 since 2020, his focus areas are organizational and leadership development, which he is also studying for his PhD.
agile42 enables leaders and their teams to create a resilient organization and a sustainable change process. We equip them with the tools they need daily to grow the business and foster the right organizational culture.