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March 27, 2019 //

Building a Culture Out of Core Values

How would you describe your organization’s culture? Are you satisfied with it?  What would your team members say if you asked them the same questions?

Defining and building a culture is hard. So hard that most people don’t even know where to start. But it’s as important as it is difficult!  Culture is the difference between doing Agile and BEING Agile.

Last week we delivered our class, Becoming a True Agile CultureTMin Nashville, TN.  We had two full days of great conversations around the significance of organizational culture.  We talked about setting a cultural baseline (evaluating your organization’s current culture), and then using a 5-step Change Management Model in order to influence our cultures to be more intentionally Agile.  It was an amazing experience with a great group of students.

One of the topics that deeply resonated with the group was the pivotal role that “core values” play in building a True Agile CultureTM; that in order to have a fully Agile culture, it’s absolutely critical that every member of your team not only knows and understands their organization’s core values, but embraces them.

Only once this value system is fully adopted can your team feel empowered to make decisions based on those shared values; likewise you, as a leader, can confidently use these values with which to lead (and staff) your teams.  For example, at The Center For Agile Leadership®, one of our core values is “Have The Courage to Challenge.” For everyone on our team, this means that we never accept the status quo. We question everything and constantly look for ways to innovate, improve, and adjust. We seek out and reward team members who have the courage to ask why. It’s a value everyone in our organization understands and believes in.

So, what are the core values that you and your team use to make decisions? Maybe it’s time to revisit those values, test their effectiveness and check in with your team to make sure each team member understands and embraces them.   Want an easy test? Take the time this week to go to each of your team members and ask them for one example of how they applied one of your organization’s core values in the last 30 days.  If they can’t define these values, or cannot come up with substantive examples of living them…you have now uncovered the first, and most powerful, step to changing your organizational culture.

Do the “test” and let us know what you discovered (by leaving your comments below).  Or better yet, be brave enough to test your assumptions by leaving before-test-and-after-test comments. Take the step!

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