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Deliberately Designing Culture at Ocado Technology

| Podcast with Douglas Talbot Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 28 Followers on Jan 02, 2017 |

This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind InfoQ.com and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke with Douglas Talbot, Head of Organisational Effectiveness for Ocado Technology, about the challenges and opportunities involved in creating a culture of innovation and agility in “a technology company that also does retail”.

Key Takeaways

  • Differences in the way IT is approached in different parts of the world
  • Applying ideas from agile, lean and Kanban to making business smarter by looking beyond process and practices to the people factors that make a difference to organisational outcomes 
  • Looking beyond the “latest consultancy model of choice” and taking an evidence-based approach to understand what really drives motivation and behavioural change in teams
  • Leadership is a game of providing clarity of vision and allowing teams to be self-organising and empowered
  • Cultural change is not really possible without commitment from the very top
  • Top talent wants to work in places where there is a great culture, so culture becomes a competitive advantage
  • 0m:25s - Introductions
  • 1m:05s - Focusing on making organisations smarter
  • 1m:44s - Differences in the approach to IT between New Zealand and Europe
  • 2m:10s - Differences across European organisations
  • 2m:30s - “No 8 Wire” approach in New Zealand makes them receptive of agile & lean approaches
  • 3m:35s - Not necessarily innovative; rather necessity driven
  • 4m:15s - Larger economies enable more resources, more people and more money to be spent solving problems
  • 4m:45s - What Ocado Technology does
  • 6m:55s - Applying ideas from agile, lean and Kanban to making business smarter by looking beyond process and practices to the people factors that make a difference to organisational outcomes
  • 7m:20s - All too often an agile/lean adoption starts with a bang and ends with a whimper, because they are driven by process and practice without making culture change the core driver
  • 8m:35s - Diverse backgrounds of the organisational effectiveness group
  • 9m:05s - Engaging a behavioural economist and an organisational psychologist to ensure there is an understanding of the evidence around group dynamics and motivation
  • 9m:25s - Looking beyond the “latest consultancy model of choice” and taking an evidence-based approach to understand what really drives motivation and behavioural change in teams
  • 10m:10s - Examples of evidence found and changes made
  • 10m:20s - Exploring Daniel Pink’s work on autonomy, mastery and purpose and the underlying research into self-determination theory, relatedness and engagement
  • 10m:55s - When exploring the underlying research many of the papers are focused on narrow sectors of the marketplace and may not directly extrapolate into other areas
  • 11m:25s - It is often hard to find evidence which relates to IT and software teams
  • 11m:40s - Researching the ideas needed for great leadership training
  • 11m:55s - Looking at research into physical environments and how they impact productivity in order to support the design of new office space
  • 12m:50s - An example of content developed in response to the evidence based approach is training on how to give and receive good feedback, based on Richard Hackman’s work on collaborative teams
  • 14m:05s - How the work on Collaborative Intelligence shows the importance of peer-to-peer coaching for team success
  • 14m:50s - Building tools and having conversations about what effective feedback actually is
  • 15m:50s - Outcomes that show that peer feedback learning has made a positive difference
  • 17m:00s - Measuring trends over time to see the actual impact of culture change
  • 17m:35s - Designing leadership training to support culture change
  • 18m:20s - The lack of evidence for specific approaches at the detailed level
  • 19m:10s - The importance of visionary leadership for motivated teams
  • 19m:20s - Transactional Analysis as a leadership skill
  • 19m:50s - Leadership is a game of providing clarity of vision and allowing teams to be self-organising and empowered
  • 20m:15s - The value and benefits of autonomous teams; evidence from Spotify
  • 20m:30s - The need for alignment as well as autonomy
  • 20m:55s - Using tools like the Delegation Board from Management 3.0
  • 21m:35s - Cultural change is not really possible without commitment from the very top
  • 22m:15s - Failure of agile/lean/Kanban adoption is most often related to management sticking with “what’s safe”
  • 23m:00s - Working with the leadership and management groups to actually make the changes stick is the hardest and longest part of any transformation
  • 24m:30s - The challenge for the agile/lean/Kanban movement is to help and support large, traditional organisations as they make the shift away from Taylorism and command & control thinking to the approaches needed for the 21st century
  • 25m:40s - Very few organisations have made long-term sustainable change to new ways of working; the organisations which are most successful are the ones which were founded on the basis of agile/lean management, rather than those which are transitioning into a new way of working
  • 27m:10s - Discussing how Suncorp made a successful, long-term transformation
  • 28m:40s - The demands of the new generation of graduates to work in humanistic workplaces
  • 29m:10s - The growth in demand for IT skills and the resultant dearth of skilled people
  • 29m:44s - Top talent wants to work in places where there is a great culture, so culture becomes a competitive advantage
  • 30m:15s - The need to consciously design positive culture into organisations and not just leave it to chance
  • 30m:35s - The importance of culture change being a long game, and it needs imbedded change agents, not external coaches/consultants

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