How to create real self-organized teams

Last updated on: Published by: Asad Safari 1

In my last 10 years’ experiences, one of the buzzwords in the agile community was the self-organized teams. everyone talks about it but no one knows how to create one.

It’s all about decision making

All teams face two types of issues, decision making, and execution. When a team is not self-organized, somebody(that we call it manager) makes all decisions and the team just executes them. Whenever we want to create a self-organized team, we should delegate part of or all of these decisions to the team.

Delegation

It’s all about delegating

Management and leadership books talk about delegating authority. But if you have the experience of managing even a small team, you know how difficult it is. Delegation of any kind of decision depends on two important factors:

  1. The level of maturity
  2. The impacts of the decision

If you have an immature team, give them a lot of authority, the team may get into a chaotic situation and even do the opposite. In contrast, if you have an experienced team, and you do not give them any authority, it will be very tedious for them just to do tasks.

How To balance the authority and team maturity

I have used the management 3.0 delegation poker game to balance the authority and team maturity.

There are plenty of “shades of gray” between being a dictator and being an anarchist. Most managers think they should act like a dictator or anarchists. The etymological origin of anarchism is from the Ancient Greek anarkhia, meaning “without a ruler”, composed of the prefix an- (i.e. “without”) and the word arkhos (i.e. “leader” or “ruler”). (Wikipedia)

Delegation is a step-by-step process. You hand over accountability to other people in a controlled and gradual way. In addition, it is context-dependent. You want to delegate as much as possible but if you go too far chaos might unfold.

How to delegate in action

Delegation is not a binary thing, based on this model, there are 7 levels of delegation-level:

  1. Tell: As a manager, I make decisions and I will tell them.
  2. Sell: As a manager, I make decisions and I will try to sell them.
  3. Consult:  I will consult and then decide.
  4. Agree: We will decide together.
  5. Advice: I will advise but they decide.
  6. Inquire: I will inquire after they decide
  7. Delegate: I will fully delegate

Visulize current state of delegtation

The second rule of delegation is: “Delegation is a step-by-step process. You hand over accountability to other people in a controlled and gradual way. In addition, it is context-dependent. You want to delegate as much as possible but if you go too far chaos might unfold. “

The first stage of creating a self-organized team is to visualize the current state of delegation. check the following image:

1- For two or three weeks try to log your decision, for example, “Today I have hired a new team member”, “Today, I asked the team to implement a new feature”…

2- Create a delegation board in miro or mural, and visualize the current state

3- Let the team understand the current state and explain the model to them

4- Let them decide about the future state and you as the manager tells them about the impacts.

5- Review this board at the retrospective meeting and make a decision about the future state again. Delegation is a step-by-step process. You hand over accountability to other people in a controlled and gradual way.

The main idea is to delegate authority to the team as much as you can, but this delegation will be based on the context and maturity of the team. Visualizing this process will increase transparency, which can increase the level of maturity of the team.

Let what do you think about this process?

Regarads

Asad

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One Reply to “How to create real self-organized teams”

  1. Mehrnoosh Baratpour

    I really liked the suggestion to visualize the steps to a complete delegation of responsibilities and decision makings.

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