Book Summary: The Culture Game

What is the purpose of the culture game? Mezick believes that we can win the game by incorporating continual training into our corporate culture.

As a result of the present rapid rate of change, he thinks that organizations that adapt quickly may outsmart their competition.

He claims that teams that learn fast are more adaptable. That flexibility allows them to respond to change more effectively.

What are our options for participating in the culture game?

Mezick believes that we may learn about software development by studying it closely and applying agile methods and the Scrum framework.

For the next 10 minutes or so, join us as we discuss his book "The Culture Game: Tools for the Agile Manager" to figure out how we can put his suggestions into practice.

Agile 101

This team of 3 practicing agility as they help each other and support team learning.

So, what do Agile Practices entail? What secrets have software engineers been keeping hidden?

Agile practices, according to Mezick, promote, stimulate, and support true team learning.

Software firms have used Agile to quickly and successfully bring software to bear on every aspect of life while also ensuring that they understand and incorporate parts of consumer input.

As a result, there is a strong desire for Agile techniques to be applied to non-technical areas like sales, marketing, finance, and even leadership. The difficulty is to take small-group learning habits and scale them up to the entire company.

This, however, is not that simple.

Scaling Agile learning practices to the enterprise level is a non-starter for most businesses. Why?

The main reason is that effective Agile teams work in a safe zone — a social environment where taking interpersonal risks is acceptable.

For group-level learning, a safe place where individuals may engage in a non-threatening manner is important. The issue is that creating an enterprise-wide safe environment is a difficult task that is frequently underestimated.

Adoption of relevant frameworks that enable group involvement is required to establish Agile practices. Scrum is a five-part methodology for project management.

  • Element 1: Respect: Respect ensures mutual appreciation and understanding amongst peers. There can be no genuine constructive conversation without respect.
  • Element 2: Commitment: Commitment is the act of binding oneself to a path of action. We can't act if we can't commit.
  • Element 3: Focus: Focus is the ability to direct one's attention to a certain goal. We are not paying attention in a meaningful way if we are unable to focus.
  • Element 4: Courage: Courage is the willingness to face reality front-on. Teams frequently feel uncomfortable communicating truth honestly in the workplace when there is a lack of bravery.
  • Element 5: Openness: Openness is all about not keeping secrets. There are no mysteries and no surprises.

Tribal Learning is what Mezick refers to as the social learning technique that underpins the Culture Game. It entails not just knowing about the art but also about the individuals who do it.

Mezick offers 16 actions in his book that we may use to participate in the Culture Game and utilize Agile processes to our advantage. While there isn't enough time to go through all sixteen, we've selected six that we believe will get us started.

Practice 1: Be Purposeful

A female on top of the mountain looking through a telescope a flag on top of stacks of money which is her goals.

As Mezick points out, having a clear goal makes it simple to stay focused, and having a stated purpose is a key component of Agile.

We must do everything possible to remain committed to our mission and ensure that everyone knows its breadth. This serves as a reference point for reality.

We may make goals and objectives, determine values and principles, and define activities based on this standard. All of this is in line with Mazlow's requirements and sense of belonging.

A well-defined objective adds to establishing a safe space, which is an important aspect of group learning, as we've previously learned. In Japanese, such a space is known as the ba, both a psychological and a social area.

Where work is complex and changing, purpose provides clarity. Clarity enables us to identify gaps between the current reality and the future we want to create and helps identify the tasks we need to carry out.

Tasks and actions aligned with purpose become meaningful work, and when our efforts make results, we feel a sense of progress.

Purpose offers clarity in a complicated and dynamic work environment. Transparency allows us to see the gaps between our current reality and the future we want to build, as well as the tasks we must do.

Studies and behaviors linked with a goal become meaningful labor, and we experience progress when our efforts produce results.

So, how do we define our mission? Mezick's advice is as follows.

  • Ask. To get comments and thoughts on the group's objective, use all accessible channels of communication.
  • Listen. Instead of driving the conversation, make the environment conducive to it.
  • Meet. Hold some meetings and make sure a facilitator is present (more on this later).
  • Keep it light. Exploring a clearly defined goal may be extremely stimulating. It can elicit powerful feelings, including negative emotions such as anger with the organization.
  • Play games. Play some games to help create ideas, movement, and consensus when gathering to establish a feeling of purpose. (There will be more on this later!)
  • Keep it short and get it done. Enough with the words!

Practice 2: Facilitate Your Meetings

A focused, specific face-time meeting going on, showing higher effectiveness.

Facilitated meetings, according to Mezick, are more focused, structured, and productive.

Meetings may be effective when attendance, goals, and limits are specified. Still, the problem is separating meeting management from participation if the meeting is called.

The facilitator takes the stage. We, the convenor, can engage more completely and observe without the added burden of leading the meeting in assisted meetings. Facilitators ensure that arrangements go smoothly and on schedule.

Facilitators can help us stay organized, finish meeting agendas, and learn more quickly as a group. We may acquire group attention and take advantage back to the organization by using facilitators.

A facilitator may help the group go forward and prevent a premature conclusion by encouraging progress and avoiding an early decision. When the time comes for the group to decide, the facilitator can aid in reaching a resolution.

So, who should be in charge of facilitating the meeting?

Having someone from outside our group facilitate our meeting is a wonderful idea. Later, you may repay the favor by sending one of your team members to promote their meetings, therefore boosting cross-departmental communication.

So, how do we go about organizing Facilitated Meetings? Here are Mezick's opinions on the subject.

  • Spread the word about facilitated meetings. Encourage people to talk.
  • Choose a facilitator. Listen for folks who are willing to attempt facilitation and keep an eye out for them.
  • Experiment and examine. Convene a guided meeting as an experiment. What advantages did it provide? Is there a more positive outlook?

Practice 3: Examine Your Norms

A team brainstroming how they can improve as a team to stay consistent with the larger goal.

Mezick contends that the activities we engage in as a group are extremely important. Communication, brainstorming, meetings, email, and other contacts are all important.

Positive encounters help people stay on track with their mission, beliefs, principles, and objectives. Ambiguous goals, ambiguous regulations, and a lack of feedback may all work against us.

It's easy to go back into old patterns when changing our group's routines to fit with our mission and beliefs. Mezick must continually evaluate our standards to stay consistent with our larger goals and ideas.

We must examine everything. This entails admitting that we have room for improvement, and some of it may be seen as personal. That is why having a safe zone is so crucial. It protects us from being overly sentimental about the old methods.

So, how can we begin to question our norms?

  • Identify. Determine a point of inspection. Make opportunities for people to look around and see what's going on.
  • Group Think. Think in groups. As a group, do the inspection.
  • Contextualize. Engage in a discussion about the tales that underpin the standards.
  • Brainstorm and Choose. Consider several options and select a set of potential adjustments. Reduce the number of possible modifications to three or four.
  • Pick and Progress. Choose one and agree on it, then keep track of who is participating. In principle, once the decision is made, everyone will have committed to the new standard. Ascertain that they do so and reinforce consensus if necessary.

Practice 4: Game Your Meetings

Meetings are a big source of waste, as we've addressed in past assessments. When attendance is required, the purpose and rules are unclear, and there is no means to track the meeting's success; meetings can drain your energy.

Meetings may be made more entertaining, pleasant, and engaging by gaming them, according to Mezick. Not a game in the traditional sense, but one with structure, clarity, and a set of rules to follow.

Any meeting can be made more pleasant by having a clear purpose, a clear set of rules, and a clear means to get feedback. If participation is optional and opt-in, the four essentials for a good game are present. When a meeting is set up as a fun game, everyone can find their way around.

Mezick has a few pointers for you.

Have a single discussion. Make it a rule that when one person speaks, everyone else must listen. Disallow side discussions and excessive chatting.

Make meetings easier to manage.

If we have long meetings all the time, we need to question why. What makes this the norm? Is it possible to divide arrangements into smaller groups? Long sessions are inconvenient.

We need to make our meetings more game-like by keeping them short and providing clearly defined breaks to lengthier sessions so that participants can pace themselves.

Give your thoughts on how the meeting is going. This can be a Task Board or a list of agenda items with checkboxes that aren't checked. It can include anything that shows signs of improvement.

Practice 5: Manage Your Boundaries

Mezick advises us to be aware of our surroundings. Constant discussion is required when dealing with fuzzy boundaries; clear lines don't work. Containment is created by agreed-upon limits. People who are good at negotiating tend to benefit from fuzzy borders.

We must concentrate on time limits, task boundaries, and physical territorial boundaries.

We should loosen restrictions in development mode to enable debate and interaction. We should restrict limits for tight definitions while seeking consensus.

In conclusion, without boundary management, any conduct is considered normal. Everything is open to discussion. All energy may be focused on the job when appropriate boundary management is in place.

Practice 6: Socialize Books

A male sitting on a stack of book while reading. This shows a collaborative learning culture and communication what we value.

It wouldn't be fair to us if we didn't reaffirm our dedication to learning through literature, and Mezick agrees.

He proposes that we may shape, affirm, and verify our culture by making literature publicly available. We make a powerful statement about our culture and dedication to collaborative learning by doing this for our tribe.

He advises us to utilize the active socializing of books to communicate what we value. By making books available, we are indicating that our company encourages learning.

Such a statement encourages the growth of a tribal learning culture and can serve as a social gathering place. Around the world, we can provide chances for face-to-face meetups, reading circles, and discussion groups.

Finally, those who actively participate reveal their desire to commit to the new culture: tribal learning.

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