When I do talks around creating an Agile Culture shift I will go through the fundamental mental models and belief systems that underpin the old culture and then a learning, Agile culture. This is hard to do in 45 minutes (it takes 3 hours and then another 2.5 days to practice in the Agile Culture Lab) . To make it practical I offer one or two tips for the audience to take away with them and try. I look for things that are simple (if not easy) to do. My favourite is to just stop advocating.

What do I mean ? Advocating is when we tell people what to do. The sentence, “Just stop advocating”, is in itself an advocation. When you are advocating you are leaving no room for other options or opinions – it is your way or no way. When two people have strong opinions of views you end up with people establishing positions and the conversation shifts from what is best to who is right and who will win! 

It feels awesome to be the one who is right, but how does it feel to be in a team where you are seldom if ever right ? Where your voice isn’t heard or appreciated ? How committed do you feel to the work ? How inspired do you feel ? Or do you ‘just show up and do the minimum’ ? Now contrast that with those times where people are interested in what you know and what you think ? What does it feel like to be valued and appreciated ? What does it feel like for your words to be used ? That is what it feels like to be in a high performing team.

I seldom meet people who wouldn’t want that, so why do unto others what is done unto you ? Why create those feelings of worthlessness in someone else ? 

Just stop advocating! This doesn’t me you don’t share your opinion, it means when you do you stop and ask others for theirs. 

“This is how I see it…. “Do you see it differently ? “

And then listen. Not to respond. Not to find the flaws in how they are thinking and so win! Listen to be curious! Listen as a gift to the other person! Listen because just maybe you didn’t have all the information and the person you normally discount and ignore has an essential part of the puzzle and together you come up with a stronger, more durable solution.

It is small actions like these that shift cultures. So start to be the change you wish to see. Start to be the Servant Leader you wish you had.

And if you aren’t sure it is possible ? Then join one of the Building Agile Culture Workshops and experience it for yourself. We have two scheduled. One for April 9 to 11 and one for May.


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