Culture eats process for breakfast

Éminence Grise has a great posting with the same subject line as this entry (in fact, he has a bunch of great posting…). I am taking the liberty to extend his discussion in my own forum.

This discussion relates to a keynote address  by Henrik Kniberg at the Paris Scrum Gathering (2013.09.23). I have not had the chance to see the keynote in person, but the presentation is very informative – I wished I could have been there in person.

Nevertheless, the content of the PDF presentation was very good and interesting. I would almost say that it should be required reading by process implementers, but they may not like the content (;-)!

My take on this is that people, especially process implementers (read: management) always forget that there is already a process in place, an undocumented (sometimes) one based on the culture of the organisation. Once you understand that, you also have to realise that there is a process to change the process, and forcing a process upon a cultured organisation is not the way to do it! What we need then is (dare I say it) measures and feedback (a.k.a., retrospectives).

I have been through a work situation where a decision to impose a development process led to a failed regulatory inspection – a failure that could have been avoided if we had started from what was there. Imposing a process into an existing culture (and there always is an existing culture) will only create problems,

The Agile Manifesto had it right, but even agilists have a tendency to push their formalised agile “process” (e.g., XP, Scrum) and you are not doing it right if you don’t follow the rules!

Many have a tendency to only look at the manifesto and to skip the underlying principles. But we especially can’t forget Agile principle #12: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” We must remember that this is the basis of any work going forward – that it is where we must start to document our culture (a.k.a., our process đŸ˜‰ before any new process is considered.