Your team can get better and better despite corporate culture and unsupportive management. In the early 2000s we created a high performing, largely self-organising team in the midst of government bureaucracy. A team that outperformed all others. Let me share the story with you in 15 minutes.

At World Retrospective Day in February a question was posed, “What are some of the reasons why things don’t get better Sprint after Sprint, retro after retro?”. I was saddened to hear one reason repeated in a few guises, “management won’t let us”, “management won’t support us”, “the culture doesn’t allow it”.

Having non-Agile culture and / or non-Agile management does not need to stop any team from continuously improving. I know that, because I assembled a group of people and grew them into a high performing team. The culture in which we operated at SARS was a cross between corporate and government, and was highly unionised. And management was mostly bureaucratic.

By the time I left in 2005 I had managers from other departments coming to me saying, “I’ve noticed how effective your team is and I’m trying to copy you. Please help me with the things I haven’t quite got right yet.”

I would like to share the story of how we “started where we were, used what we had, and did what we could”, to inspire coaches, scrum masters, leaders, and team members, to change things from the inside, in spite of the outside.