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Tuesday, May 23 • 13:15 - 14:15
Learning to Read the Label on the Jar You're In

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The problem: Your team is made up of people from different national cultures, and getting to know and trust each other is a slow process. Whether your team is working in the same office or across an ocean, your progress is in jeopardy unless real collaboration starts happening soon. You're concerned that stereotyping and other negative feelings will grow as schedule pressures increase unless you can find a practical, simple idea that you can use to help individuals "build bridges" across to each other. 

In this session we will start with a brief overview of 5 dimensions of national cultures as presented in the book "Cultures andOrganizations" by Geert Hofstede and Gert Jan Hofstede. The book quantifies cultural attitudes based on five cultural
axes, namely:
1. Power Distance 
2. Individualism
3. Masculinity-Femininity
4. Uncertainty Avoidance
5. Long / Short Term Orientation

Here are a few examples of how cultural differences might affect an agile team:

Someone from a highly individualistic culture might want to build their skills far above the others, not taking time to bring others along. They see this as standing out as a leader. A team-mate from a more collectivist culture may see it as self-centered showing off.

Someone from a high power distance culture does not want to voice opinions in estimation sessions until they know their manager’s opinion on the topic because to be in disagreement with their manager is disrespectful, no matter who is right.

We'll take each cultural axis in turn (as time allows), and you'll find out where your culture ranks, and with a pair you'll explore how to handle an important Agile team communication topic. Even if all cultural axes cannot be covered, you'll have enough understanding to use Hofstede's book to do further explorations.

Our own culture can contribute to problems if we are unaware of how it affects our behavior, and of how our behaviors are perceived by others. Cultural diversity in a team can be trouble just waiting to be triggered, or it can be a real strength. The difference is simply awareness and readiness to make adjustments.

avatar for Nancy Van Schooenderwoert

Nancy Van Schooenderwoert

President, Lean-Agile Partners, Inc.
Nancy was among the first to apply Agile methods to embedded systems development, as an engineer, manager, and consultant. She has led Agile change initiatives beyond software development in safety-critical, highly regulated industries, and teaches modern Agile approaches like Mob... Read More →

Tuesday May 23, 2017 13:15 - 14:15
Ballroom B 1st Floor

Attendees (24)