From Red Tape to No Tape: Organizational Misalignment with Agile Values

Part 2

Bureaucratic Orientation

Post Industrial Orientation

Power Structure

Who makes the decisions, how widely spread is power, and on what is power based?

Interviews are handled by HR with a few technical people providing input.

The team that is recruiting the new hire interviews the people after they are screened.

Interviews are skill based and related to job description.

Interviews are behaviorally based and related to corporate values.

Hiring is viewed as fulfilling an immediate skill set need.

Hiring is viewed in the long term with cultural fit and individual contributions outside of skills being considered.

Management approves and makes both strategic and tactical decisions.

Management informs team about cross institutional issues so that the team can make both strategic and tactical decisions.

Management implements changes (process, architectural, or other).

Management connects teams together and the teams make change collaboratively.

Schedules are imposed by management based on events or stretch goals.

Factors that influence schedule are taken into consideration by the team, and schedule is derived by the team.


Control Structures

The way that the organization is controlled and monitored. What rule books are in place and is there a reliance on individualism or teams?

Performance evaluations are about individual contributions.

Performance evaluations encourage group contributions and collaboration.

Performance evaluations are based on metrics that may not be tied to the corporate vision and values (or no vision/values exist).

Performance evaluations are explicitly tied to corporate vision/values.

Estimates for schedules are scrutinized and must be justified to management.

Team estimates are taken as estimates with a reasonable margin of error.  While constructive pushback is accepted, “Gut feel” is accepted by management as a loose form of estimation.

Projects that are projected to be late are met with tighter scrutiny and a sense of failure.  Overtime is a common reaction.

Late projects are advertised as soon as possible without fear. Collaboration of the team and other stakeholders is put into place to mitigate negative impacts of the schedule.  Focus is placed on root cause of schedule slip.

Annual reviews based on job description are the norm.  They are typically administered by management.

360 degree evaluations are used and the results are openly discussed.



What are the visual symbols?  How are they extended? Visual representations such as logos, plush offices, and dress code are considered.

Status symbols such as special parking, executive washrooms, and corner offices are used as motivation.

Leaders value team collaboration and team effort over status.

Information is kept electronically and controlled with access security by management.

Big, visible information radiators are used to project team performance and project.

Language in the meetings focuses on I, me, individual contribution.

Language in meetings focuses on team and collective contribution.


Organizational Structure

What are the formal and informal reporting lines? Is there a rigid hierarchy, network, or collective?

People are partially shared among multiple projects.

The work comes to the team.  A single source of work (possibly multiple projects) is used by the team to determine what work to do next.

It is rarely acceptable to question or critique upper levels of management.

Management accepts open challenges and works collaboratively to change either its behavior or address misconceptions.

People work toward self-promotion.

People actively groom their replacement and peers.

Job roles are static and do not necessarily tie to day-to-day work.

Roles can change based on team need.

Management forms and dissolves teams.

Team formation and dissolution is a collaborative effort between team members and management.



What are the stories that build the organization and represent its values?  Are the stories and myths built on heroes, collaboration, success, and failure?

A committee creates the vision, which may have no concrete meaning.

Individuals participate in vision creation.  They can tie daily activities directly to the vision.

Strengths and weaknesses of people are evaluated via annual review cycle.

Strengths and weaknesses of people are actively understood on a continual and explicit basis by the team.

Role models are individuals (heroes).

Role models are based on teams, rather than individuals.



What are the behaviors exhibited by management and team members? What signals acceptable behavior and what signals unacceptable behavior?

HR or management mandates routines, such as recurring meetings, reports, and administrative necessities.

The team devises or modifies routines through regular reflection directly tied to the work at hand.

Training on routines focus on the operational side of the routines with little or no context to their value within the company.

Routines are explained by training, symbols, and peers and are explained from the perspective of their application to the team.

Consequences for variance from routines are often harsh and specified via rules.  More often than not, punishment is the result of variance.

Variances in routines are handled at a team level.

Table 2

About the author

AgileConnection is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.