How to change your team’s culture?
Sending people to a training course with tea and cookies will not achieve the desired cultural change
I remember it clearly. It was almost 20 years ago and it was difficult. We wanted change, to improve our software development practice and release faster with less bugs. However, THEY didn’t want it. They wanted to keep building locally, handcraft the artefacts and release manually. For several months, a continuous disagreement that slowed and frustrate us all.
Polarisation or a division into two sharply contrasting groups will not make things better. And it will not make a team work as a single unit which is a basic ingredient for efficient teams. It could be worse, but not working in any case. Until a new leader joined the team, and he showed us a new way of doing things, taught and coach us. In organisational change terms, what happened is called injection. And it is not the only way to bring change. Let’s review different models :
(1) Inject: A person with significant experience in the “new way of working” joins an existing team to work alongside existing staff, teaching and coaching them.
(2) Incubate: Existing team members are temporarily sent into a team that works differently to learn the new way of working. After several weeks or months, the team members return to their original teams. This can be done on an individual basis or for whole teams at a time.
(3) Extract: Existing team members are transferred into a new team that works differently. Ultimately, the new team replaces the existing team.
It is important to notice that the new team is usually well versed in the new technology or the new way of working, however they often lack the business context. It is the opposite for the existing team, they know exactly what is going on in the business, but unwilling to change.
These change models offer some options to achieve both, conserve existing know-how and improve the way the team works.
-  IT Transformation: Missionaries, Boot Camps, and Shanghaiing by Gregor Hohpe
-  Cultural change that sticks by Jon R. Katzenbach, Ilona Steffen, Caroline Kronley
This is a personal article. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.