Review: The Scrum Culture

9783319118260-480x600The Scrum Culture – Introducing Agile Methods in Organizations by Dominik Maximini is a book that starts were most of the agile or Scrum books stop. You can send people to Scrum training classes but what does it mean if you want to use Scrum in your organization? The official Scrum guide is only sixteen pages, thus how difficult can it be? Is it that simple or are we talking about a transition of several years?

Probably the biggest root cause for failed agile transitions is the fact of misalignment between the needed agile mindset and the organizational culture.

The book is split in four parts. In the first, more theoretical, part the author evaluates different organizational culture models, explains his research and ends with a definition of the Scrum culture.

The following organization culture models are explained:

  • Harrison’s culture model (high/low formalization versus high/low centralization: role orientation, task/achievement orientation, person/support orientation, power orientation)
  • Deal and Kennedy’s culture model (fast/slow feedback versus high/low risk: work hard/play hard, tough guy/macho/stars, bet-your-company, process)
  • Schneider’s culture model (Actuality/possibility versus personal/impersonal: collaboration, control competence, cultivation)
  • Cameron and Quinn culture model (flexibility and discretion / stability and control versus internal focus and integration / external focus and differentiation: Clan (collaborate, adhocracy (create), market (compete), hierarchy (control))

The author compared traditional organizations and agile organizations (based on Gloger and Häusling) to highlight the cultural differences:

Traditional organization Agile organization
Position Role
Expert Generalist
Team lead Scrum Master (agile coach)
Product / Project Manager Product Manager / Product Owner
Responsibility of line management: Team, daily operation Responsibility of line management: Individual (focus intrinsic motivation), strategy
Passiveness Activeness
Planning of uncertainty over a long time horizon Planning for a short and clear time horizon
In-transparency Transparency
Presence Accomplishment
Customer as an alien Involvement of customers
Delegation of responsibility Adoption of responsibility
Control Self-responsibility – positive idea of man

A transition to a more agile organization will have an impact on the following categories: management and leadership, decision making, cadence and speed, planning, focus on productivity, soft factors, hierarchy and organization structure.

The second part is about the theory of introducing Scrum. The author discussed several shapes of Scrum, their advantages and disadvantages: Scrum PRN (pro re nata: take as much as needed), virtual Scrum software studio, Scrum software studio, façade Scrum, profound Scrum, and sustainable profound scrum.

Part III structures the way to introduce (your chosen shape of) Scrum. Will you use a bottom-up, a top-down or submarine approach?

The author uses Kotter’s eight steps for organizational change to explain what you must do to introduce and embed Scrum in your organization. In part IV we get a case study following the same eight steps.

Every step is explained in a separate chapter and you get explanations, pitfalls, do’s and don’ts. At the end of each chapter you get an overview with things you must remember for that specific step.

  • Creating a sense of urgency
  • The guiding coalition
  • Vision and strategy
  • Communicating the change vision
  • Empower your employees on a broad basis
  • Generate quick wins
  • Consolidate gains and initiate further change
  • Anchor new approaches into the corporate culture

Conclusion: If you are responsible to lead a transition to become more agile this book is a must read.

To order: The Scrum Culture – Introducing Agile Methods in Organizations

6 responses to “Review: The Scrum Culture

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