Chapter 8. Culture Change and Sustainable Development

It is highly likely that in order for your organization or team to achieve sustainable development, a new product development culture is required. I feel this chapter is necessary because I have seen too many situations where enthusiastic people with great ideas are stymied, consciously or unconsciously, by their organizations.

Too few people consider how to introduce change to their colleagues and management and how to make the changes last. So-called change agents almost always have a great deal of enthusiasm, but they often take on the entire burden of change themselves, hit a stumbling block or opposition, and then do one of many things: retreat into a shell, lash out, get burned out, or find another job. Many organizations, usually unknowingly, have a built-in immune system that can quickly stifle change. But even in these situations change is not impossible if you understand the dynamics of the people in the organization.

Where change is required, there is the significant challenge of achieving lasting change. It's easy for people to try out something new, but as soon as something goes wrong, the most common reaction is to revert to what was known to work in the pasteven if it doesn't really work. Lasting change requires changes to what is measured, recognized, rewarded, and reinforced. For example, many companies recognize people who work long hours and who are independent project heroes, whereas in a sustainable development culture, it would be more valuable to recognize people who find innovative ways to achieve technical collaboration on their projects and make the people around them more effective.

Achieving lasting culture change is hard. It takes a lot of determination, vision, and persistence. Principles and practices aren't good enough because people define culture. And people are complex and unique. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect that a sustainable software development culture can be so clearly defined that it is identical in every instance. In fact, the opposite is true; we should expect sustainable development cultures to be different simply because of the people involved, and these differences will manifest themselves through variations in how practices are applied.

There are two change scenarios of interest in this chapter: sustainable development on a new project and turning a project that is on the unsustainable path into sustainable. These situations are obviously unique and require variations in approach. This chapter is therefore broken up into three parts: the common topic of making change happen, followed by a discussion of the unique aspects of the two scenarios.


The primary challenge in attempting culture change is in understanding the dynamics of each unique situation and the people, culture, and environment, then using this knowledge to determine how change can be first started and then maintained in a highly collaborative way.

Cynics can easily read a chapter like this and come away with the impression that leadership and introducing change involves manipulation. But you need to apply a filter as you read. Think about the importance of truly understanding the situation and about how critical positive collaboration and engaging others is. You often have to help people understand their current situation and what the possibilities are, and you have to help influence the change, but you can't do it alone. Forget about manipulation and command-control; they won't work!

Sustainable Software Development. An Agile Perspective
Sustainable Software Development: An Agile Perspective
ISBN: 0321286081
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 125
Authors: Kevin Tate © 2008-2017.
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