Author: Andrew Murray

Is Culture the Forgotten Ingredient?

There can be little argument that the pace of organizational change over the last 25 years, and in our world, in general, has been nothing short of frenetic. In this time, we’ve seen the emergence of technology as a driver for business and the way they operate. This has been largely positive, but the downside of this mass adoption of technology is that electronic interactions and social media have, to a large extent, taken the place of personal interactions. While I can’t dispute the value technology brings to the modern organization, in many cases it appears to be degrading people’s ability to interact and belong.

Over the last 15 years in software development a movement that actively seeks to curb this has been gathering steam: Agile Software Development.

What is this Agile you speak of?

Agile was introduced as a means to deliver working software to end-users faster and with closer alignment to their needs. Despite the technology flavour of the Agile Manifesto, I believe its success is largely based in encouraging a culture of interaction and a sense of purpose among groups of people.

This movement is of particular interest to me for a number of reasons, not least of which being that it aims to cut waste and deliver meaningful value to the customer. Focusing on the human element of the software development process has contributed significantly to its success. For many years, software development was seen as an engineering practice where rigid process was intended to add to the predictability of the result. Requirements and priority changes are difficult to predict with certainty. It can be both restrictive and wasteful to take the view that rigid process and detailed planning upfront enable predictability and support customer satisfaction. Agile supports the principles of team cohesiveness, collaboration and delivery, and the acknowledgement of the humanity inherent in teams is central to its widespread acceptance by managers and workers alike.

To understand how and why this has been the case, we need to unpack the people side of the work environment. Motivation is someth