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Culture Builder

Practices vs. Culture

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Practices vs. Culture

I saw a LinkedIn discussion thread that was initiated by Allen Holub. The initial post was: 

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6503389838526468096

What practices are best at promoting culture? A couple years back, Robert Martin and I had a somewhat public debate about whether culture or practices come first. Bob advocates the shu-ha-ri approach: start doing practices, even by rote, and the culture will naturally arise. He used someone bowing when stepping on the mat as an example. At first, it's just rote. Eventually, respect emerges. I took the opposite approach: start with culture and good practices will emerge. If you have a culture of trust and autonomy, better lead time is a natural outcome.

In the real world of consulting, however, it's very difficult to *start* with culture. The people writing the checks typically want to improve something more hands on. So, my question is: in that world, where you need to start with practices, which practices (if any) lead to a good culture the fastest? If you're introducing practices in order to change culture, which practices would you introduce? I have my own ideas, but I'm interested in your experience.

I’d like to riff off of this a bit. I’m thinking of a couple of things:

  • Do practices lead to culture OR flip it. I think it’s a flip and Allen seems to agree BUT then backs off because it’s hard.

  • Is that the right approach? Or is it a business-related copout?

  • And what about the idea of Culture Hacking. Which I haven’t heard a lot about lately. Could that be part of it.

I like this post because it gets to the root of what a view as a BIG problem. And if everyone ignores it, where does it leave us?

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CIO’s – Technology, Business Process, or Culture Builder?

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CIO’s – Technology, Business Process, or Culture Builder?

I received an email from Strategic CIO Journal entitled – Top CIOs Become Business Process Czars. 

The key focus of the article was raising the bar on CIOs to become more broadly engaged in the overall business and the processes to deliver value.

https://thestrategicciojournal.com/2018/07/23/top-cios-become-business-process-czars-2/

Now, I’m not going to critique the article. Because it was the title alone that inspired this response. It made me think about senior technology leaders – CTOs, CIOs, and any senior technology leader in a larger organization.

It made me think of their Prime Directive. Is it: 

  1. Technology Leadership?

  2. Business Process Leadership?

  3. Or is it, Culture Builder?

The article seemed to allude to role moving from a focus on #1 to #2. And that is a relevant and important shift given today’s Digital Transformation strategy focus.

But that being said, in some ways, I think the article set the bar too low or in the wrong direction.

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