How to stop cheating at culture change

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As promised, here is a follow up to “Stop Cheating at Culture Change” that I published last week. This is the story of how you can put in place a continuous cultural maintenance program using a lean startup methodology of build > measure > learn.

Start Starting

As I mentioned in my last article, the most important part is to first decide what you want your culture to be. The focus for me was on shifting our culture to an agile and adaptable culture so our Massive Tranformational Purpose (MTP) became (after some iteration)…

Driving exponential change through people, process and technology

Our next step was to find a model that allowed us to drive autonomy down within my organization to promote innovation and speed. Following the Start Starting mantra, we decided to start with the Spotify Model as it appeared to align well with the work we were trying to do. We formed a Tribe and squads based on our multiple product lines. Then we allowed chapters based on common needs (like automated testing) develop naturally through sharing amongst the tribes. Did it look exactly like the Spotify organizational model when done…absolutely not…and it shouldn’t look like the model or framework you choose, you should adapt it to your organization. What it did do is provide the organization with the tool that it needed to share and collaborate on how we get to our MTP. This model worked extremely well for us as it taught us to adapt and pivot towards innovative thinking, develop a higher level of skills and move faster.


One on Ones with Everyone


My first order of business was to conduct one on ones with all 60 of the tribe’s resources to learn what skills the tribe had that I didn’t know about. Then we discussed how we could provide each of them with the opportunity to use those skills. I can tell you that it took a tremendous amount of time but I learned a lot about the team and was able to put those learnings to good use on many occasions.


Tribes, Squads, Chapters, Guilds…oh my!!!

One of the most important aspects that we put in place was a quarterly monitoring of our culture through Horsepower Metrics and a monthly tribe meeting where we discussed the results of the monitoring, reviewed feedback, practiced new methods of working and put in place a plan to increase our cultural metrics across the drives of Innovation, Competency, Achievement, Cooperation and Self-Protection from the Horsepower Metrics system. This resulted in many initiatives like…

  • Sci-Fi Digital Intelligence Session – where we practiced looking ahead 20 years to shift our thinking to leverage disruptive technology with our business partners
  • Pay it forward – a program to show appreciation with small personalized trophies meant to be enjoyed for a while then re-appreciated to someone else
  • Hackathons – allow your resources to show their stuff with no boundaries. Also, there’s nothing more engaging than healthy competition
  • Off site Tribe Meetings – getting everyone out of their comfort zone helped them to open up their minds to different ways of working. At these off site meetings we were able to practice things like Low-Fi prototyping, team building, and presentation skills


Keep on keeping on

Through some lucky timing and some good marketing, we were able to put in place a transformation program and transfer the Run, Grow on our legacy products to different teams and reskill our resources quickly.

Now we are transforming the organization even faster than ever before with a program that is built to self replicate across the organization through a coaching methodology. We’re not only driving more transformation in our area but also in our business partner areas as well, all while developing stronger relationships with those partners.

Finally…we have completed our culture shift…NOT!!!

Of course, we aren’t. That’s the whole point of my last article and this one. Culture change isn’t an event, it needs to be an ongoing part of your core business functions. Organizations are living breathing things and you must pay attention to what is going on to ensure you’re always on top of the changes. By skilling my workforce in adaptability, we were able to continue driving forward our MTP even in the face of massive organizational change. We didn’t run a culture change event over the last few years, we put in place a cultural maintenance program and developing our people so they can manage an exponential pace of change.

Details, details

I know that I haven’t included a whole lot of details about each of the initiatives and programs we put in place (or even put all of them in here) so if you are interested in hearing more, watch for our OpenExo and SingularityU Edmonton community events @ http://exoexecute.eventbrite.ca/ and come and chat with me.

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