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Category: English

Company Culture: The Messy Kitchen Fallacy

Many offices have a messy kitchen. And whenever there’s a messy kitchen, there are people complaining about it. In chat rooms, during lunch, at company meetings, on signs in the kitchen… you name it. “Your mom doesn’t work here!” they yell. And while we are bothered with how difficult it seems for others to keep the kitchen clean, we ignore the real reason behind all this: The company culture.

A Lack of Ownership. About Pyramids and Teams

The team has to take ownership! That’s what they all say. And they don’t understand, why the team doesn’t. They take ownership themselves. And they told the team to do the same. Yet, it’s not happening. We probably need a new team, this one is useless…

I personally witnessed a gazillion cases like this. People are concerned that software developers don’t deliver high quality or employees don’t keep the kitchen clean. And everything in between. When you think about it, you can probably come up with similar examples from your reality.

But what to do? The underlying concern regarding other people’s behavior is very reasonable. More often than not we judge behavior without thinking about the motives behind them. We forget to look into the underlying reasons for behavior. That’s what humans tend to do, see the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’.

Cross-Cultural Competence

We live in a globalized world. Interacting with different cultures all the time. And it is becoming more and more important to be able to deal with this. Cross-cultural competence is what HR calls it in employment ads. What they mean is, you should be able to successfully collaborate with others from different cultures. And no, telling them what you want, is certainly not the right way. It’s way more complicated than that… 

Don’t be so theoretical!

This goes out to all change agents, all teachers and coaches, everyone that tries to introduce a paradigm shift of some sort. Be it helping a society to understand the value of diversity, or helping a company to understand the need of transformational leadership, or helping a team to organize differently (#agile), or helping your clients (or however you want to call the people you’re dealing with) to do their work in a different way… Whenever a person claims for something to be too academic, you’re doing something wrong! 

Leadership – What it is and how it should be done

I work in a company, where we have team leads, supporting the employees to develop and making sure that this development is aligned to the competitive goals of the company. I’m sure you can relate to this one way or the other. Maybe it’s a line manager or a department director or whatnot. That however is the leadership I want to discuss here. Not the leadership of a CEO towards the whole organization or the leadership of HR managers defining the development structures of an organization.

Diversity vs Patriarchy – Let’s catch the next Wave!

Recently, I attended a conference dealing with organizational change. One of the sessions there was about human resources (HR). This is the department of an organization that is supposed to support individuals within the organization. Here people were talking about how to evaluate the skills of employees, how to train them and the role of leadership in all this. At one point during this session a young woman from the audience got up and confronted a high-ranked HR manager from a large German energy provider, also female, with an interesting subject.

The young woman said that she was at the very beginning of her career. She recently read that a study, which shows that the careers of women are often hindered by other women, not so much by men. This sounded counter intuitive to her, as she thought women would support each other.

From Scrum to Kanban

Or: The Difference between Pre-Launch and Post-Launch of an E-Commerce Project

Every e-commerce project has this one moment that changes everything: The launch. From that magical moment on your efforts are made available to real users and are due to earn real money. The whole organization faces a major shift. The parts of an organization external from the development team change their modus operandi. In their perspective, what used to be an abstract future suddenly becomes an active system facing customers.

It’s a known fact that in any e-commerce project, the development never stops. Throughout the whole project there will be bugs to be fixed and new features to be implemented, no matter on which side of the cut-over you are. What changes is the attention brought to the project from the organization as well as the emergence of topics. Thus, the development of the e-commerce project faces its biggest struggle when switching from implementation to in-life-support mode. This struggle cannot be ignored by the development process. 

Tech vs UX – Why the struggle?

We live in a world of digital full service agencies and companies that deliver the full brand experience, from a complex technical backend to a fancy frontend. This requires specialists of opposing fields with very contradicting backgrounds to closely collaborate in order to achieve great goals.

Impressive success stories of cross functional teams, where UX designers and software engineers cooperate happily are widely spread [3, 4]. Just as descriptions on how to organize this way [1, 2]. However, these success stories rather document the exception. Truth is that most agencies are struggling with this organization of team collaboration. In order to understand this problem, let’s have a look where the two professions came from.

Knowledge Management Strategies

Large parts of my PhD thesis are based on a theory by Morten T. Hansen, Nitin Nohria, and Thomas Tierney [1]. In their article the authors analyze different consulting companies and define two basic strategies for knowledge management: The codification and the personalization. An organization has to follow one of those, the one that fits to the competitive strategy best.

Note: Most of the text from this post is directly taken from my PhD thesis. That is also the reason why this text is so long and detailed…
Sorry for that. 🙂