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Tag: culture

How To Change Organisational Culture In 3 Easy Steps

OK, I’m sorry, you can’t. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t be struggling so much with transforming organisations. Now, I assume that if you read this post, you probably are interested in changing the course of your organisation, division, team or whatever structure you’re part of. If so, read on about my ideas on how to approach this complex problem.

Why Would We Like To Change The Culture?

Imagine Chris. Chris is not living a healthy life. He smokes, drinks 3-4 beers each evening in front of the sports channel. He is a white-collar worker, and commutes to the office by car. He likes it that way and thinks that he doesn’t need a change.

By accident, our Chris has met a sports coach, Anna, who told him, that if he’s going to live his life like that any longer, he will soon get himself into health troubles. Anna started to persuade Chris to exercise, to change his evening habits, to use a bicycle to commute to work. And Chris eventually started to do those things. The coach was happy and fulfilled. There was no more work for her to do. So she left.

Do you know what happened next? Yes. The same thing that happened the last time your organisation (or your friend’s organisation) tried to transform into an agile one. Agile coaches came in, people were sent to training courses, Scrum Masters were selected and… Done.

What we really should be after is something deeper than just some practices. Changing the mindset of Chris would result in a much more sticky lifestyle change. The same applies for organisations. Continue reading How To Change Organisational Culture In 3 Easy Steps

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What Scrum is NOT

Scrum is the most broadly used agile framework nowadays. My observations confirm that. Whenever there is a question at meetups or conferences about the method the audience uses, Scrum collects the most risen hands. During job interviews I have a chance to learn the same. But what I also notice is that people sometimes don’t really understand the why or how. They just follow some ceremonies, that are often flawed, without any deeper understanding. Actually, I am guilty of doing the same. So here I share a list of things that people confuse, consciously or not, and provide some explanation.

Scrum is not a Silver Bullet

I used to play in some metal bands in the past. I stopped, for numerous reasons, but later wanted to get back to playing. I was a Scrum practitioner, Scrum was working for me (or to be more specific – it was better than waterfall, which I had experienced before), so I wanted to apply it to band forming. It was really funny. Band mates were confused to say the least! And you know what? It didn’t work. Surprise, surprise.

You may laugh (I can hear that!), but I learned that you have to be pragmatic with such choices. You need to learn other approaches and be open to new ideas. Mastering only one is dangerous, because if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Some teams and companies use Scrum because of its popularity and accessibility. It’s easier to read 16 pages of Scrum Guide than books about Lean, Kanban or others. Besides, it’s effortless to get certified Scrum Masters (or to get certification yourself), to be trained by certified Scrum trainers and so on. It’s safe and seems to be easy.

Yet sometimes (or maybe – in most cases) Scrum is not the right choice, and definitely not the only viable possibility. In order to choose well you need to learn what other solutions are available, get the best parts from them, and use them wisely. And not be afraid to modify your process. Continue reading What Scrum is NOT

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The Importance of Recruitment

Currently I’m highly involved in shaping the recruitment process in my company. To be frank, before joining Ocado Technology I didn’t realise the importance of this process. I treated recruitment as something that stands in the way of my work. But I was wrong. Now I believe that recruitment is one of the most important things a company should be focused on.

“Work Rules!” by Laszlo Bock changed my perspective dramatically. The book is about how Google’s People Operations (it’s basically Human Resources on steroids) work and why. This book changed my view on importance of HR, especially recruitment. Let me share my arguments for why you should also care about hiring.

The High Cost of a Bad Hire

There are costs related to a bad hiring decision. Some of these costs are relatively easy to measure, like sourcing, interview time or salary that was paid during the tenure. But there are also other, hidden costs that are hard or impossible to estimate:

  • Decreased morale in affected team. A low performer may negatively influence people around him/her. Subsequently firing them may cause a further nosedive in morale. Sometimes, however, it may have a positive impact – the team may be grateful that the constraint has been removed.
  • Negative effect on productivity. I have experienced situations where a team member’s code quality was so poor that the rest of the team felt it necessary to replace their code. Naturally, the team then became more productive once that person had been released.
  • Opportunity cost. What would it look like if we hired an “A player” instead? Where would we be?

Some organisations have tried to estimate the financial cost of a bad hire, taking into account all the above factors. $250k, £335k or even $884k are examples of their findings. It is probably different in your case, but it’s essential to realise that the costs may be higher than you think. Continue reading The Importance of Recruitment