We started with Cultural workshop

By Thierry Pieteraerens (Tribe lead) and Vivek Sinha (Agile coach)

We are co-writing this blog to share an amazing experience that may help others. Though, this blog is not at all about specific concepts or technique; it can be used as a technique to organize an effective and efficient workshop on cultural aspects for any team, group, community or organization.

Here is some context to understand our reality – We are in IT ops and infrastructure division; and unlike typical product delivery or applicative world, we always worked in projects mode with operation and engineering focused mindset. We started our IT Agile transformation recently; and it all started with a very logical re-organization (from project based virtual and temporary teams to dedicated service-delivery based squads structured in Tribes). We are tribe of 80 people in 6 squads.

After reorganization, our immediate focus was 1.) alignment of Tribe & squads’ vision, strategy and objectives and 2.) clarity on new roles and responsibilities. So, we decided to organize two days off-site with each squad’s product owner, scrum master and few representatives. Somewhere back in our mind, we both were thinking, we need to put equal focus on 3.) cultural shift to achieve a successful transformation. And that’s why we decided to have a “Cultural workshop” during our off-site. 

The questions in front of us were “what this workshop should be, its structure, what can be a good outcome, how to make it super interactive, so on and so forth”. After few brainstorming sessions, we realized, a wonderful outcome would be awareness of what shift we are wishing for, with each understanding of their role into it. The workshop must reflect our current culture followed with an agreement (as a group) where we wanted to be in future. 

We got our first cue from Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. Though, in place of directly going to Geert’s dimension, we opted to choose cultural dimensions (behaviors) that matter most to us in our context and aligned with transformation vision at large. We decided on below 5 dimensions

  1. We Act like Entrepreneur – always and never as two extremes 
  2. For Psychological Safety, we pinned down to a specific question – “Lag time” The time gap between when I feel it and I discuss it.