How Healthy is Your Product? - Company Culture Check

2019 02 01 head

You are developing your application using agile and lean approaches.

How can you check your approach and distill improvements?

Health check of your product and your development approach are certainly a good solution.

This post is the fourth and last of a set of articles identifying health checks with different focus.

We will identify strengths, potential weaknesses and hopefully find room for improvement.

What is your company culture?

How are collaborators focused on delighting your customers?


The patient solely decides if a health check shall be performed. The effort and depth of a health check are defined together with the patient. The findings are considered confidential.

Many attempts at achieving business agility are misguided and fake. But I consider the glass half full, not half empty.

Fake Agile is a signal to do better. Fake agile is a treatable disorder.

— Jurgen Appelo

A short check with a feedback workshop presenting the insights requires around two work days. A deeper and more intensive check requests more effort, between one and four weeks.

Upon completion, you can also hire a coach to implement selected findings and durably improve the health of your application. The findings are often clear and the measures are straightforward.

2019 02 01 daily learnings

The real work is to consistently implement the measures.

Understand how powerful daily small improvements can be. Small improvements accumulate earnings over time.

I have the same personal challenge when trying to lose weight or improve my running form. The long-term implementation is the crux.

The biggest flag to identifying a learning and improvement focused culture is perhaps this statement

I get better and lasting improvements with organizations who invest in training their collaborators.

Not only training on the job, but they send them to courses, exhibitions and buy them books.

Company Culture Checks

A set of questions to detect cultural flaws for a lean and agile focused company are

  1. Do you still have individual bonuses?

  2. Does the organization provide feedback to each employee at least on a monthly basis?

  3. How complex is your travel expenses regulation?

  4. Are all C-level managers trained and certified in lean agile leadership and agile approaches?

  5. Are the human resources department collaborators trained in agile approaches and agile HR?

  6. Are all collaborators and managers working in the development organization trained in agile and lean approaches?

  7. Are all collaborators and managers working in the development organization trained in software development techniques?

  8. Is there a product charter that lays out the mission and strategic goals?

  9. Do all members of the team understand both, and are they able to see how their work contributes to both?

  10. Do you release your products at least once a month?

  11. Do software developers have local administrator rights on their workstation?

  12. Can software developers install tools and libraries on their workstation?

  13. How is the working environment of your talented developers?

    1. Do they have a team area with a dedicated desk for each team member?

    2. Do they have multiple high-resolution displays to work with high resolution means 4K or higher?

    3. Do they have root access meaning administrator rights to their development workstation?

    4. Do they have access to technical books and articles?

    5. Do they have a height-adjustable desk?

    6. Do they have big whiteboard and flip charts to work on in the team area?

    7. Do they have rooms to meet and work as a team in the vicinity and available?

    8. Do they use the best development tools of trade, and not only the basic and cheap version?

    9. Do they have access to fast and stable continuous integration and deployment pipelines?

    10. Do they develop and document in English?

  14. Can you work on refactoring and clean code without a product backlog item or task?

Simple Look-See

A very powerful check is to reflect on the behavior of your managers. Ask yourself:

Do your managers know the four most important sentences and practice them daily?

  1. Sorry

  2. Thank you

  3. I am sorry, or I am wrong

  4. Can I help you?

Posts in the Health Check Series