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Thursday, August 8 • 14:45 - 15:15
Organization in Rank-conscious and Reserved East Asia on the Bumpy Track to Team Health (Sangtae Kim)

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Agile started off from an interest in how to develop valuable software better in a small team, but has since evolved to encompass a specific culture of working in an organization. The most effective agile transformation might be a big-bang change, but this isn't the track taken for some companies which could be due to many reasons including hesitance to take a big leap of faith. Hence, often a few projects are selected to be the pilots without disrupting the overall structure of the organization.
Our organization has a specific working culture that has evolved over time influenced by the local cultural background. Characteristics include emphasis of rank-consciousness and functional roles, and hierarchical decision making process. In an attempt to look into different methods of working perhaps more effective in the rapidly changing and volatile contemporary software product market, we have initiated agile to selected software development teams of various caliber and domain across the organization to improve effectiveness of the teams.
As internal agile coaches, we set out to help the teams by guiding the team members on how to perform agile practices, organizing and facilitating activities, and helping build up a more egalitarian work ambience. We started off with operating Scrum practices as described in various guiding materials and made additions and tweaks as time went on based on what we deemed as beneficial to the team. What we learned was that training and trying to perform agile practices is one thing, but creating the right ambience is another.
While helping teams with agile, we ran into several difficulties not finely detailed in publications, arising from the culture setting being more rank-conscious and people being more reserved than what we assume are like in the pro-agile environments that agile seems to thrive in.
In the following sections, we will share our experiences of how we have selected the five factors in the Hackman model of team effectiveness to delineate the issues to improve and how we have utilized various agile practices, and the current results and lessons learned we have attained on the truly bumpy track that we are traveling.

Lessons Learned from Your Experience:
  • While outspokenness and discussions might come natural in an agile-friendly environment elsewhere, these turn out to be something that need to be worked on in a more reticent culture setting
  • Many people think that they are already doing the agile practices as they should be performed (but if you really take a look, not many teams are understanding and practicing the values)
  • People have different wants concerning agile and it is not easy to align the wants once actual implementation and operation kick in
  • Workshops to share product vision and activities to promote collaboration do help... but you need to get the people to want to participate
  • There are some benefits attainable in terms of communication & collaboration within the team even without disrupting the organizational structure and roles (however, to potentially attain additional benefits, more changes to structure/policies seem needed)
  • In a culture where 'following tradition' is considered virtuous, an external coach plays an important part in making changes to a team


avatar for Sangtae Kim

Sangtae Kim

Samsung Electronics
Have been working in various Software Engineering methodologies including Agile software development.

Thursday August 8, 2019 14:45 - 15:15 EDT
Chesapeake 7/8/9