Conducive culture

“Before the boys’ team won the first-ever state cross-country championship in the school’s history, she didn’t explicitly set the goal or try to “motivate” the kids towards it. Instead, she let the kids gain momentum, seeing for themselves -race-by-race, week-by-week – that they could beat anyone in the state. Then, one day out on a training run, one boy said to his teammates, “Hey, I think we could win state.” “Yeah, I think so too.” said another. Everyone kept running, the goal quietly understood. The coaching staff never once mentioned the state championship idea until the kids saw for themselves that they could do it.
This created the strongest culture of discipline possible, as the seven varsity runners felt personally responsible, for winning state – a commitment made not to the coaches, but to each other.”
(bold mine)

The above is from Jim Collin’s ‘Good to Great’.

I quoted it verbatim to illustrate how powerful can self organization be. Corollary to that, how fake can the absence of it be.

For an initiave like agile or innovation to be successful, the underlying structure need to be conducive. Support structure comes from right culture, values and principles, not policies or power games. Sometime, we fail to take a holistic view of the organization and its culture and principles. So a typical organization with decades of top-down, command-and-control way of life suddenly wants to flip a switch and be successful with agile.

But there’s no such switch.

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