Over the last decade I’ve had the privilege of working with several IT teams that transformed themselves from minimal credibility with the business to delivering award winning customer facing products while improving other IT business services. Different groups with different issues and opportunities, but what stands out with all of them is their willingness to change and improve their own culture.
So coming off several posts on DevOps and how its practices combined with agile development can lead to an improved execution, I thought to share some incites on how to recognize and improve IT culture.
Signs that IT culture is Heading in the Right Direction
Agile teams get things done first, worry about process mechanics later – When introducing agile practices – or even when agile has been used for some time and the team is looking to mature its practice – I find that strong teams will think agile , focus on execution first, and address mechanics of the process second. So for example, a new agile team should gets its backlog going first and commit, worry about story points and how to handle unfinished stories at the end of a sprint later. A mature agile organization with multiple teams prioritizing stories, figures out the communication mechanics between teams during the sprint, and formalizes communication practices by discussing issues at retrospectives.
Know how to use the business’ products so that they can see where and how to make improvements. User interface, workflow, and access to insightful, actionable data is so important to successful customer facing application design and business system workflows that the technologists working on them have to step into their user’s shoes and learn for themselves.
Individuals are hungry to learn more and take the initiative to train themselves – Sure I can get individuals and a team formal training, but that’s not where it starts. A strong IT culture prefers rolling up the sleeves and experimenting first, training once they know the basics.
It’s not always the Business’ fault – Agile teams might blame the product owner for over promising and everyone has something critical to say about the business strategy, but strong
IT teams will think through how to improve their own practices before tossing blame or being critical of other business functions.
Speak openly about where they suck and need to improve is important.