Switzerland is often regarded as a traditional country that lags behind other countries in adopting new trends and concepts, on both business and technological levels. This might explain why Switzerland has not fully embraced agility as a mindset and methodology within its companies. Surprisingly, its deep-rooted values constitute the perfect breeding ground for agility, more so than in any other country.
In the following non-exhaustive list, we take a look at the key values and traits that define the country and how they can foster the adoption of agile:
Reliability Swiss people are often described as highly reliable which plays a major role in agile teams where commitment and trust are decisive success factors.
Federalism This value can be linked to greater ownership, empowerment, and better decision-making process, which will greatly support the outcome of the project. In Scrum, for example, the Product Team “owns” the Sprint and takes pride in delivering the product.
Diversity Multicultural teams are regarded as more open which favors creativity and respect. Furthermore, they are less at risk of groupthink.
Efficiency Agile is all about Kaizen or improving the way we work. In Scrum, the Sprint Retrospective is the opportunity to discuss efficiency. Often, people compromise User Stories for the sake of velocity. In Switzerland, people do not compromise on the Definition of Done and have already accepted that discussing efficiency is necessary.
Neutrality Once the product is sliced and the functionalities to be delivered are defined, neutrality can help team members focus during the Sprint. This doesn’t mean that they do not care about the other functionalities or other demands. On the contrary, they have respect for them but they willingly choose to focus on one thing. Furthermore, neutral teams are better at self-organizing.
Communications Swiss people will prioritize effective and efficient communications, sometimes at the expense of social interaction. However, this communication culture reduces waste and comes in handy in the frame of Daily Stand Ups.
Voting Swiss people are used to giving their opinion, which in turn implies that they are open to other opinions, which leads to greater openness and respect. Agile tools such as Planning Poker are based on these values.
Stability Economic and political stability are highly necessary for agile. When you build a product incrementally, you need to plan for a roadmap, knowing that you are operating in a stable environment.
Interdependency The lack of natural resources in Switzerland have led it to be highly interdependent with other countries. Collaboration in agile teams of generalizing specialists is very important in value delivery.
Modesty Swiss people would rather let results speak for themselves, than speak about themselves. This allows greater transparency and an openness for feedback, a key pillar of agile.
In conclusion, Swiss companies are more than ready for an agile transformation! However, identifying one’s strengths is the initial steps in knowing what plays in your favor. Companies should first focus on the low-hanging fruits, with agile attributes that are already in the agile culture. And remember that becoming agile is not a destination, but rather a process.