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The most common factor for organisations failing to adopt Agile is due to the resistance in the organisation to make the required cultural transition.

Culture is essentially defined as collective behaviours and attitudes of a group of people. So, if everyone in that group exhibited similar behaviour and had similar attitude, then that behaviour and attitude would define the ‘culture’ of that group. And if the culture is not right for the organisation, based on its values, it is because the individuals’ behaviours and attitudes are not aligned to those values! Culture of an organisation is hence, down to every individual in that organisation irrespective of where they are in the hierarchy.

It was all really like the molecular behaviour in the three states of matter. If each molecule was fixed in one place and tightly bound together, then they would result in a rigid and fixed shape, as in solids.  If each molecule went its own way, the consequence is that there would be no definite form or shape, apart from filling up the container they were in, aimlessly. Because of this random behaviour of molecules where each one almost moves in a silo, gases can be easily squashed and compressed. However, if each molecule was loosely bound to each other and yet moved harmoniously relative to each other, then the resultant state of matter can easily change its shape to that of the container, as in liquids. If the container is changed, then the molecules move together to give the liquid a new shape. This is that perfect behaviour, where every molecule knows what it needs to do, where it needs to get to, collaboratively and without any fear of failure, enabling the liquid to take any shape and form, such that it is truly fluid and agile.

It is thus, for me, as an individual to acknowledge that culture is not something external that one can use as an excuse or use as a target to pin the blame on, because, I was the molecule, whose behaviour and agility would determine the state of the organisation I belonged to. I was the long queues, I was the over-crowded trains, I was the traffic jams, I was the customer and I was the organisation culture.

This realisation is often enough to motivate one intrinsically, such that the resultant personal change is for learning and growing, rather than for getting rewards or for avoiding punishment.

‘Culture does not make people, people make culture”’– Chimamanda Adichie.

For more information on making the transition to an agile culture, read Hema Iyer’s book The ‘I’ in Agile: A Personal Journey.

About the Author:

Hema Iyer is an IT professional who has been engaged in the different aspects of software delivery, for over 20 years. She has worked in projects in India, Singapore, Malaysia and UK in various capacities.

Her life goals are simple – to learn something new every day, to stay healthy and to sleep well, every night.

She lives in South London, with her husband and two lovely children.