You Need an Engineering Culture

2019 03 01 head

Agile approaches are not enough. You need a strong engineering culture to achieve quality and lasting success.

Often, coaches and Scrum masters tinker with the processes and invest effort and blood to improve the ceremonies and the company structure.

But at the end of the day, the success of your application is defined by its adequacy to customer needs and its overall quality. You need a solid and professional engineering culture to produce high-quality products and release them at a high rate.

If not, you just release a new set of defects to your paying customers.

How do you establish and nurture a professional and effective engineering culture?

Live and breathe Your Values

Values drive your culture and the daily behavior of all your collaborators. But even if you have invested time and blood to identify the right values and put all the mechanisms in place, it might still not have the desired results. Culture is something that happens daily through personal interactions. Putting the right values and mechanisms in place will help move your company in the right direction, but it’s not a guaranty for success.

To increase your odds for success, you need to live and breathe your values. You need to truly believe at all levels in the organization and not compromise on them.

  • Advocate for build-in quality.

  • Support employees first.

  • Promote technical excellence.

  • Do not be penny wise and pound foolish.


Make sure that people know the values. It should be part of every on-boarding. It is one of the first things that new people need to learn. But also make sure to remind people as often as possible, e.g., in employee guidelines, during appraisals and town hall meetings.

Eat Your Own Dog Food

People look up to you. They will imitate your behavior. So make sure that you and all members of the leadership team are the evangelists and provide at all times the right example.

Read our blog post Pragmatic Craftsmanship for hints what a technical excellence culture should be.

Learn from the LeSS] community.

You can find an initial list of questions in our blog post Company Culture Check.


Validate that all teams are living up to their values. Find a way to measure it. Identify and put actions in place in case you need to improve. If a value does not make sense, e.g., the value was defined early on, but in hindsight it doesn’t fit with your company, then get rid of it.

Last Thoughts

Building a great engineering culture is not something that you do. You cannot cheat. It will not automatically happen by copying the values and organization structure from another company such as Spotify. You need to really invest in creating a culture that works for your company.

You can look at organizational structures, values and principles from other companies to get inspired. Sit down with your people and decide together what is important for your company. Put mechanisms in place that will support the concepts, allow them to grow. Then live and breathe it within all levels of your company.