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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Mar 1, 2019

In this week’s episode of Agile Coaches’ Corner, Dan Neumann welcomes back a return guest — Quincy Jordan! Quincy is a Principal Transformation Consultant and has been with AgileThought for about one year now. Previous to that, he has served as a Principal Consultant and Agile Coach at for over six years. Quincy’s mission is to help companies and people who are ineffective in their own mission by assisting them in transforming from what they are to what they desire to be.


Today, they’re going to be exploring the topic of cultural debt — which, much like financial debt, comes with the cost that it has to be paid back over time. Quincy explains, in detail, what cultural debt is, and what needs to happen to avoid it. He also gives some examples from organizations who have experienced cultural debt so you don’t have to make the same mistakes too!


Key Takeaways

What is cultural debt?

  • If you don’t modify the culture as you roll out changes, bad habits and behaviors within the organization begin to build over time
  • Eventually, these bad behaviors that occur can ultimately negatively affect business outcomes
  • It can become a severe problem that can become difficult to unravel down the line

Some examples of cultural debt:

  • If leaders take something away from middle management without giving a replacement, communication begins to deteriorate
  • If a leader isolates themselves and does not support a collaborative culture, you won’t achieve the needed level of transparency within your team and the culture starts breaking down
  • An organization focused more on “burning hours” rather than delivering value can cause the culture to suffer and less productivity to be had

What needs to happen to avoid cultural debt:

  • The cultural change that happens at the leadership level also needs to happen at the team level
  • The leaders need to empower the teams and the teams need to take risks to be more self-directed
  • Leaders need to make sure they do not become siloed
  • Leaders need to support a collaborative culture and be a part of it also
  • Strategically build trust and transparency

A change Quincy sees at the leadership level that really helps to address cultural debt:

  • Making the shift from annual budgets to iterative investments


Mentioned in this Episode:

Quincy Jordan

Agile Manifesto

HiPPO Culture

Gantt Chart

The Reengineering Alternative, by William E. Schneider


Quincy Jordan’s Book Pick

The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done, by Stephen Denning


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