Culture, Process, Tools

An efficient and productive Agile Software Development organisation is based on Culture, Process, and Tools – in that order.

A fundamental mistake many organisations make is to believe they can start with a Process, or worse still, start with Tools. e.g. Let’s put some tasks in Jira and we’ll be Agile by next week.

I’m a great believer in Jira as a tool, but tools only serve to help implement a process, and processes work best when they are aligned to the objective and shared values of an organisation’s culture.

So first we need an appropriate Culture. In my book the best Software Development cultures are those based on Lean, XP and Agile values and principles, and therefore having an appreciation of Understanding these values is key. This lets us form a set of shared guidelines and rules to guide how we will deliver value to the business. Sharing these guideline and rules also let’s the members of the team make decisions for themselves, becoming more goal focused and less task oriented.

Next we have a Process, for me most commonly this is based on Scrum, but Kanban also has its place. A strong process lays the foundation for productivity and predictability, allows us to gather momentum and establish a cadence.

Finally we can have our tools, customised as required to fit our process. Good tools mean less time administering the process and more time delivering.

Culture process tools pyramid
Tools work best when supporting a robust Process, which in turn relies on a Culture of shared principles and values


Adopting Agile processes without a change the culture and mindset brought about by a full understanding of the underlying values will result in –

‘Better than not doing it results’ – not achieving the full potential ‘Step Change’

Becoming the most efficient Waterfall team possible.

A Fractured Perspective where each team member only adopts the practices they agree with or think apply to them.

Can’t improve where the need to improve is not understood. Don’t have a model of what ‘good’ looks like. WYSIATI. “unknown unknowns¬†” – Donald Rumsfeld

Conversely, understanding the values and principles brings better communication.


Outcome focus is Mandatory.

Requirement is the What, not the How. The Why is the Value proposition.