Agile Culture: One More Secret to Building it

I recently read the excellent and fascinating book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. The book doesn’t only cover habits of individuals, but also habits of communities and organizations. Reading it reminded me of a conversation I had with our CEO, Robert Holler about V-Days.

V-Day is our monthly company-wide gathering that brings everybody together to keep them in the loop as well as connected to each other. Family members, friends, and even job candidates are also invited. V-Day starts with lunch in the Game Room, continues with a break for everybody, reunites everybody for short presentations by each department about the last month, and usually ends with a “keynote” address by Robert.

The result?

  • We generally feel informed about what is going on in the company
  • We enjoy hearing the update rhymes Maggie finds the time to create about the Services department.
  • We get to know new (and old) team members during lunch and the break
  • We meet spouses and kids of co-workers, and they get to see where their parents go during the day
  • We build shared memories

So what is the link between V-Days and The Power of Habit? I’m abbreviating a bit here, but you can build a habit by deciding on a certain routine that follows a certain cue – and practice it until it starts to be a habit. So non-habitual routines can turn into habits. However, they can also spawn additional habits by creating scheduled events that foster certain routines. For creating certain organizational behavior or company culture, the trick is figuring out which habits are most prominent in them, and which corporate event would most encourage those habits.

V-Days are a great example of that elusive “habit-fostering event.” They support three of the most prominent company habits – which also happen to be quintessential to agile teams: (1) Remember and share information that concerns others, (2) Interact with other people in VersionOne on a personal level as well as a professional one, and (3) Remember to acknowledge great work getting done.

I asked Robert if he had read the book, but he had not. Nevertheless, V-Day makes for a great illustration of many of Duhigg’s points, and IMHO a company-wide regular and fun get-together like this is one more secret to building agile culture.

 

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