Background






In many developed countries, the work place has become more diverse and multi-cultural, whilst organisations carry out complex projects in the competitive environment and aim to deliver projects‍‍ based on the triple constraint of time,cost and scope. Agile project teams need to become more adept with ensuring projects delivered by personnel meet stakeholder requirements despite having challenges in some cases of a diverse multicultural workforce with different traditions,beliefs and values.

People from different cultures generally have different levels of expectations, ways of interacting and perhaps communicate differently when delivering complex projects. However, the common methods and principles of Agile teams such as pairprogramming, Rapid feedback,small iterations and regular Scrum meeting rely on close collaboration between team members and so, Multi-cultural teams will have both benefits and limitation adopting and applying these principles because of members diverse values, cultures and languages.

As Agile project Management Ideas are based on close collaboration with customers and ability to respond to change quickly , Agile multicultural teams rely on individuals to have interactions ina common language to ensure user stories are interpreted correctly to ensure successful iterations are delivered. The diverse values of multicultural team members may affect interpretation of feedback in different ways, it can perhaps be a challenge to deliver a project ‍‍which meets the Stakeholders requirements but may also benefit teams that work very closely as they can offer a wide range of skills and experience.

Definition


A Multi-cultural team can be defined as a group of individual members from different cultures and nationalities with different values and cultures working towards a common goal.

Why are Multi- cultural Teams formed?



Takeuchi and Duriau (2000) believes there are some reasons behind forming multicultural teams. These are;
Multi-cultural teams are formed on the basis that they are time-based and also to meet a specific aim although some multi-cultural teams become permanent.
Multi-cultural teams are formed when a need arises for a product that can be used in various countries.
Multi-cultural teams can be formed unintentionally as a result of diverse culture in an environment where businesses operate, this is common in multi-cultural cities with diverse individuals with different cultures.
Multi-cultural teams can also be formed when a team is needed for conveying and executing universal approaches.
A Multi-cultural team ‍‍may be formed when there is a need for a task force to be in charge of account for worldwide manufacturing.
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It has been suggested by scholars and experts that the productivity of Multi-cultural teams can have more effect than single culture teams if led correctly, however in terms of delivery of projects in Agile, it has been suggested by research carried out by Sutharshan (2001 ) that culture factors may have an impact on the successful delivery of projects on Software Development and other industries where Agile project Management methods and techniques are being adopted. This may affect communication in Agile teams because communication styles in various countries are different and this may affect how information is received and processed. This may also be quite an issue while using principles like Complex Adaptive Systems and Pair programming as both rely on close collaboration of individuals whilst working on projects.

Benefits of Agile in Multi-Cultural Teams


Multicultural teams are more creative, more satisfied and are less likely to have conflicts than homogeneous teams (Stahl etal, 2010). This means multicultural teams can easily adapt to an agile environment, since creativity, self motivation and communication are essential in adopting Agile.



Challenges on implementing Agile in Multi-Cultural Teams



‍‍Sutharshan (2001)‍‍ indicates that research has shown that potential problems will occur when implementing Agile practices in a multi-cultural environment. Differences in culture can lead to problems such as acceptance of views or ideas which may affect the ability and attitude of team members when working closely together. It is important to address these issues to ensure productivity and effectiveness of Agile multi-cultural teams.



‍‍How to implement Agile in Multi-Cultural Teams




Due to globalisation and companies wanting to reduce cost, looking for expertise in certain skilled individual, companies entering into foreign markets, companies coming together through mergers and acquisition, many large companies are increasingly undertaking projects in more than one location and also in different countries. By doing this companies can benefit from agile if the principles of agile are implemented in a sensible way such as trusting people over processes while understanding that cultures of individuals will not change overnight. In light of this, it can be suggested that‍‍ it is best to apply the principles that best suits a specific culture.

‍‍Conclusion‍‍



In conclusion, agile philosophy method was introduced into a multi-cultural software project team so as to improve teams within software projects. Multi-cultural teams are known to be problematic due to the difference in cultures but also, they are also known to be more creative which enables them to adapt to an Agile environment easily. However, understanding agile methods should not be made a top priority alone, but its best attributes should be selected and applied to multi-cultural teams so as to help the team to adapt and adjust to team expectations in terms of cultural differences.


References

Cohn M. (2005) Agile Estimating and Planning. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Manninen. K. (2010) Innovation Based Business in Finland [online] Available at http://bit.ly/KxZWMI
Stahl G,Maznevski L,Voigt A and Jonsen K (2010) Unraveling the effects of cultural diversity in teams: A meta-analysis of research on multicultural work groups [online] available at: http://bit.ly/KBBKK8 [Assessed: 28 March 2012]
Sutharshan A.(2001) Enhancing Agile Methods for Multi-cultural Software Project Teams. [online] Available at:http://bit.ly/Ld42PN [Assessed: 12 march 2012].
Takeuchi R. Duriau,V.J.(2000) Internal and External fit of Multicultural teams within Multicultural Corporations. [online] Available at:http://bit.ly/JTiBUp [Assessed: 11 March 2012].
Wendorff P.(2002) Organisational Culture in Agile Software Development. [online] Available at: agiledenver.ning.com/events/pete-behrens-the-culture-of-1 [Assessed: 12 march 2012].