What’s your Passion #13 – Cultural Advantage

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Agile, Lean & Exceptional Value Delivered in Sweden

Culture eats everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!!

Cultural antibodies quickly rise up to smother the invaders. Classic “not-invented-here” syndrome. If an individual does not know how to effectively run and win a political campaign at all levels, then game over. The best you’ll get are isolated pockets of success.

During the past twenty+ years, I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with some amazing teams in Sweden (I was based there 8 of 20+ years). So, it is no surprise to me that frameworks and methodologies that emphasize collaboration, cooperation and consensus should work well in Sweden, for example:

  • Scrum – Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber
  • Scaled Agile – Dean Leffingwell, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland
  • Lean – most trace the origins of Lean to Henry Ford (and his visit to the Butcher shop) and some even to Ransom E Olds (who patented the production line first)

To me, what is fascinating is that these frameworks seem to work cross-culturally, but that national culture can impact your results not just in Sweden but also in the Americas, Asia and the rest of Europe.

For example, since the national culture in Sweden has collaboration, cooperation, consensus and agreed-upon values at its core, my Swedish colleagues should have had a natural head-start over many other regions when using Agile, Scrum and Lean.

However, we will discover that this wasn’t the case, as we will see below.

During 2014 – 2019, when I was based in Stockholm, Sweden, I put together this mini-case study during the middle of that time on the results achieved by some of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) teams that used the Flow Leadership Framework.

Once again, my Swedish team members demonstrated that they are among some of the best in the world at creating not just great business value, but truly remarkable (and sustainable) results. It was an honor to be one small part of these teams.

The reason that I was included on these teams was that one of the senior team members was already both an FCP and FCT (Flow Certified Professional and Flow Certified Trainer). In other words, he was very well versed in Agile, Lean as well as the principles of the Flow Leadership Framework.

Back in 2015 he reached out to me to see if I would be willing to support the AI teams in their Agile & Flow journey(s) with additional training, coaching and mentoring in Flow Leadership.

After a number of discussions, I joined the AI team to train, coach, mentor, encourage and guide them along the way to achieving sustainable high-performance. So, this ended up being a somewhat unusual circumstance in that there were two FCTs (Flow Certified Trainers) working with the teams (Patrik and myself).

Here is an overview of what these amazing Swedish team members achieved during those few short years we worked together: 

AI Sweden Cases

Despite the edge their national culture afforded them, the teams were, nonetheless, struggling (or Scrumbling) to use Agile to deliver pilots for AI (Artificial Intelligence) “digital co-workers” for their clients in the Banking sector.

That was surprising.

When I arrived and started working with the teams, it took them around eight (8) months with 7-8 people (full time) to deliver a pilot AI project.

But, they felt that they could achieve even better results.

As can be seen from the picture above, by the end of my time with them (training, coaching and mentoring the team members), the teams were able to deliver more than two times faster with three times less people (8 months –> 4 months, 7.5 people –> 2-3 people).

During the team’s journey (since not all of the team members had been trained yet in Agile, Lean or Scrum when I arrived) we started with the basics; and, trained almost all of the them in Flow-based Scrum and Agile (through the lenses of Flow). In the picture above you can get a feel for when they were trained in Scrum, then Flow-based Scrum and then to the FCP level (the horizontal lines).

From that point forward, with everyone on the same page in Scrum (as well as having the learned the basics of Flow), this helped the teams move from “Performing” to a sustainable “High-Performing” level in the Aha! Curve:

Aha hand drawn 2020

Btw, by using Flow Leadership, the teams Delivered a cost savings of almost 90% to the customer per pilot. That works out to an amount in excess of US $1 million saved for the customer (for each pilot implemented).

Well done and kudos to the teams!

The methodology agnostic, timeless principles taught in the Flow Leadership Framework also cut across cultures (both national and business), just like Scrum, SAFe and Lean:

Flow in a nutshell hand drawn 2020

When a leadership framework demonstrates that it is useful (and is duplicatable and works) in a local context across the globe, then as a business person (that is focused on enabling teams to add the highest possible, sustainable value in each and every assignment) I find that compelling and worthy of additional investigation.

The Flow Leadership Framework applies to all four lenses:

  • Individual
  • Team
  • Product
  • Organizational

Flow enables you to become the ultimate Enterprise / Executive Coach.

Each of the following courses build on the mindset delivered by Flow and gives you the cure for cultural antibodies:

  • Flow Certified Professional (FCP) – Individual and Team
  • Flow Certified Coach (FCC) – Team and Product
  • Flow Certified Trainer (FCT) –  Program, Portfolio and Organization

As a previous Swedish FCT participant summed it up:

  • “Flow helps everyone (Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, XP, Agile, SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, etc.) play nice together!”

At the breakfast seminars I facilitated in Stockholm during 2018-2019, I shared that an Enterprise / Executive Coach needs to also be both a competent Agile Coach and an effective Management Consultant (that understands how to mitigate and/or eliminate politics).

The Flow Leadership Framework enables you to be great at both:

Flow infinity hand drawn 2020

With Flow, you will learn to effectively guide and support Leaders and Executives in creating the ecosystem and culture that can turbocharge the organization’s teams and stakeholders in their journey up the Aha! Curve.

If you want to increase your odds of success, then let’s keep the conversation Flowing – let’s chat!

PS Here are the associated links to this blog post for:

#culture #scrum #agile #pmi #pmp #kanban #lean #flow #scaledagile #transformation #change #transform