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Opinion: What 2017 Has in Store for Culture & Methods

| by Shane Hastie Follow 11 Followers , Ben Linders Follow 9 Followers , Susan McIntosh Follow 7 Followers , Rui Miguel Ferreira Follow 2 Followers , Craig Smith Follow 3 Followers on Jan 11, 2017. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

We polled the InfoQ Culture & Methods editorial team to get their ideas about what 2017 could have in store for the technology industry, the nature and structure of teams and organizations, leadership and management, and the implications these things could have on the way work happens in the future.  

Here are our predictions for 2017:

With luck we will see less emphasis on brands and labels (Scrum vs Kanban, SAFe, LeSS, DAD...), replacing this with a pragmatic meshing of context-dependant good ideas.  Mature organizations who have been through one or two rounds of methodology adoption will lead the charge away from "one size fits all" to pragmatism and realism.  

Unfortunately this will go hand-in-hand with brand wars and commercialization - there is simply too much money to be made implementing branded, recipe book approaches to organizational "transformation" and the recipe vendors are not interested in meshing their "best practices" with anyone else's "best practices". 

Certification will continue to be a big selling point, with a wider range of certifications covering more roles and activities falling under the certification banners.  Unfortunately most of the certifications will remain simple knowledge-based or attendance based assessments - there will be very few "skills based and hard to achieve" certifications but these may grow. 

Some leading edge organizations will decide to go for radically changing their structure and the way work is managed. They want to truly increase self-organization and autonomy by adopting for example Holacracy, principles from Sociocracy or Sociocracy 3.0 (S3), self-selection of teams, ideas from anti-fragility, or intent-based leadership. They explore ways to become a teal organization, driven by purpose and results. We expect that this will happen more and more in the coming years.

The industry is slowly moving from agile teams to business agility. Implementing agile only in teams or within the IT organization often hasn't brought the expected benefits. More and more, agile is going beyond software development: we see organizations that have adopted agile principles in marketing and sales, customer support, and in HRM and (senior) management. Collaboration between all parties throughout the delivery chain is essential to deliver results with agile. 

The increase of virtualization at work with remote and distributed teams becoming the norm and how that will affect psychological safety and trust is something that needs to be explored. In a recent Freakonomics podcast, the discussion centered on the concept of social trust.  At one point, the conversation turned to the question of technology and trust. Are we building technology that will be similar to the advent of the television (where social trust dipped, as people spent less time connecting with each other), or the telephone (where social trust increased, with the increased connectivity of phone conversations)? 

Susan McIntosh commented on her own experiences with virtual teams:

In my own work environments, I’ve seen instances where technology has helped increase social trust, the sense of having faith in those around you, which is a close cousin to psychological safety, where one feels respected and accepted. As an example, I’ve worked in several offices where we’ve created communication channels or rooms labelled “off-topic” or “random,” where team members can talk about the recent Star Wars movie or just play with the new emoticons, exposing a personal element of their personality. I’ve also seen the opposite, where it’s been rather difficult to get to know a person because we’re never in the office together, and I’ve only communicated with them via Slack.

A topic that is starting to be discussed more and more is employee's happiness. The "war for talent" is a well-known expression in the technology field, especially in the software development industry, and each day gains quite a bit more relevance. Nowadays it is common to see companies working constantly on their brands, hiring Hiring Ambassadors, hosting Community Meet-ups and having to be prepared with a strong set of answers coming from candidates during interviews. And that is happening because people want to find the right job; a job to make them happy, instead of just seeking a job in order to earn money and pay the bills.

We've also spent some thinking about where the various trends that make up culture and our methods sit on the Geoffrey Moore technology adoption life cycle graph.  This is what we believe to be the current state of play:

Culture chasm graph

As with all our coverage, InfoQ will be focusing on the early stages of this graph with the majority of our coverage online and at QCon around Innovator, early adopter and early majority trends.

Please comment on what topics we might be missing in the Innovator and Early Adopter phases. 

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