So, the lean world says that environment trumps all – and it does, but it is not sufficient.
Individuals. “Individuals and their interactions over process and tools” says the Agile manifesto. Yep, that too. Useful in context, but also not sufficient to produce high performance.
Lately, I’ve been reviewing Tribal Leadership in preparation for Dave Logan’s talk later this month, and he talks about the tribal culture being all-important and that it is the determining factor for the level of success achieved per group. But what comes first, the tribal culture “chicken” or the individual behavior “egg”?
In my experience it always comes with the individual. That individual shows the types of behaviors we expect to find in high performance teams: ownership, respect for others, ability to build trust by making and keeping agreements, and the ability to create a safe space for others to collaborate with him. That person somehow finds others of like minds, or infects those around him. And once they reach critical mass, they start to set the norms and expectations of their group (team/department/organization depending on their reach and circles of influence).
So my answer (for today) is that individuals come first. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.