Agile Culture, Adoption, & Transformation Reading Guide

NEW. For updated information on this post, please see An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide.

This is a reading guide to the series that explores corporate culture and how that has a direct impact (sometimes very negative) on efforts towards Agile adoption and transformation. It is a must-read for every Agile Change Agent. The role of Kanban is quite distinct and is discussed throughout.

Below is a quick synopsis of each post in the series on Organizational Culture, Adoption and Transformation so you it’s easy to find the most relevant content for you and start with what interests you most.

Best Summary

Juicy Conclusions

Read about why it matters to you:

Change Agent’s Toolkit

Read this to expand your toolkit:

Reading Order from Beginning to End

If you want to understand the logic in linear order, start here:

  1. How to Make Your Culture Work (Schneider) – Explanation of Schneider culture model that is used as a base for the analysis and provides a framework for discourse.
  2. Agile is about Collaboration and Cultivation Culture – Analysis of Agile/Scrum core values and associated culture.
  3. Kanban aligns with Control Culture – Analysis of Kanban cultural bias.
  4. Software Craftsmanship promotes Competence Culture – Analysis of Craftsmanship cultural bias.
  5. Agile Fits Better in Some Company Cultures than Others – Juicy conclusions that points to a different way for coaches to approach and engage with clients.
  6. A Tour of Agile Adoption and Transformation Models – Review of Agile Adoption and Transformation models. What tools people in the community are using and where they are effective.
  7. Ways to Make Progress with Culture Gaps – Different ways for coaches to make progress with Agile when it doesn’t fit with the culture.
  8. Agile – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Links cultural issues central to challenges faced with Agile Adoption and Transition. See also slides.


Here are some more bits and pieces around culture:

Video/Screencasts (older)

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  • Slides: Agile – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 7:48 am

    […] was thrilled when I had a chance to turn my Agile Culture Series and conclusions into a session to run at XPToronto (my local Agile user group). Slides are below. […]

  • Screencast – How to Make Your Culture Work with Agile Said,

    May 26, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

    […] For more information, please see Agile Culture Series Reading Guide. […]

  • Bob Allen Said,

    June 24, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    Two things:
    1 – You have what I assume is the result of a global text replacement error: look for occurrences of “to central to challenges” to see what I mean. There are a few.
    2 – My understanding of Agile is that it is a “collection of practices” that includes both Scrum and Kanban (as well as XP and Clear) and that practitioners select the most appropriate combination of practices to get the job done. The addition of “Ditto for Kanban” on the description of the article ” Agile Fits Better in Some …” seems to suggest that you view the relationship otherwise.

  • Michael Sahota Said,

    June 24, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    Hi Bob,

    1 – Thanks – fixed the typos.

    2 – Our understandings differ. I see Agile as a system of values and a set of practices that support these values. Picking and choosing is about “doing Agile practices” – this is very different from “being Agile” where the values are embraced.

    – Michael

  • Andrew Said,

    June 28, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    The link on the second item in the reading list points to the same page as the first item, you might want to fix that.

    Great post, by the way. It’s helped me understand why I’ve got nowhere with an agile adoption in a bank data warehouse. Better yet, it’s suggesting what I can do to suggest ways to make improvements here. Thanks!

  • agile42 | Awesome Coach of the Week: Michael Sahota Said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

    […] The topic that inspired me most for my own work was company cultures, how they differ, how they influence what works and what doesn’t… and how you can change them or not. If that interests you as well, you might want to start with his Culture Series Reading Guide. […]

  • The Importance of Culture Said,

    September 6, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    […] Culture is an important factor to consider for an organization that adopts agile methods, and even more so for one attempting an agile transformation. For more on that topic, I recommend reading Michael Sahota’s insightful blog series on agile culture. […]

  • Agile Complexification Inverter: What are the Principles? Said,

    October 17, 2011 @ 6:56 am

    […] this process.  We want to know what we can bend, what we can circle around – how can we keep doing what our culture dictates and just install the scrum. Agile Culture Series Reading Guide Written by: Michael Sahota How […]

  • Agile Complexification Inverter: Thinking about company culture Said,

    October 17, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    […] Slide show of Hair Styles & Attitudes One of the best blogs on the topic is Michael Sahota's Agile Culture Series Reading Guide. Michael uses the Schneider Culture Model to describe efforts to transition a culture. This is a […]

  • Корпоративная культура и Agile | AgileRussia Said,

    December 9, 2011 @ 6:40 am

    […] Agile коуч (coach) Michael Sahota провел исследование влияния корпоративной культуры на Agile преобразования. Мы встретились с Майклом (Michael) и попросили его […]

  • Alex Podelko » Can Processes Be Agile? Said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

    […] great interest I read through Agile Culture, Adoption, & Transformation Reading Guide by Michael Sahota. It makes a lot of sense for me. Along with many other interesting statements, Michael states that […]

  • BigVisible Solutions | Organizational Culture: a Map or a Maturity Model? Said,

    June 24, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

    […] own research, as well as recommendations from colleagues like Michael Sahota led me towards models that plotted out an organizations culture along various competing values. The […]

  • David Koontz Said,

    July 24, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    Just ran across this article on ROI of changing Culture. Though you would like to see it, and that it fits in well with your research and study of Agile cultural change. by Monique Reece

    A quote:
    “They discovered that for companies that focus on company culture:
    § Revenues increased—4 times faster
    § Job creation rates grew—7 times higher
    § Stock prices increased—12 times faster
    § Profits climbed—750% higher
    § Net income grew—700%
    § Customer satisfaction-Doubled

  • Vom Human Ressource zum Human Relations Management | Media Interface - Beratung für digitale Organisationsentwicklung, Zürich Said,

    March 4, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

    […] Im virtuellen, vernetzten Unternehmen wird mobil und flexibel im Sinne des Unternehmenszweck gearbeitet. Wo jeder Kollege oder jedes Teammitglied (Auf den Ausdruck „Arbeitskraft“ wird dabei bewusst verzichtet) voll im Bilde ist, souverän mit seiner Zeit umgehen kann, alle Mitglieder die gleichen Chancen haben, ihre Führungskräfte selber wählen, auf die strategische Geschäftsentwicklung Einfluss nehmen und an der Wertschöpfung direkt beteiligt sind. Wie der Unternehmenszweck und die Organisationskultur zur Grundvoraussetzung –  Wertediskussionen zum treibenden Faktor von demokratischen oder horizontal geführten Unternehmen werden, beschreibt Frederic Laloux in seinem wegweisenden Buch „Re-Inventing Organizations“. Mit vielen Praxisbeispielen von Pionieerunternehmen, wie die Transition vom „Management von Ressourcen“ hin zum „Gestalten des sozialen Betriebssystem“ gelingt (Siehe Grafik von Michael Sahota). […]

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