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

Resolve conflicts in Agile Teams for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches

Last updated on: Published by: Asad Safari 4

Almost 9 years ago, when I started my first scrum mastery role, I encountered one of my tough challenges, conflict resolution. Two members of the development team(Ali and Vahid) separately told me, we can not work together anymore. 

  • “Why do you think you can no longer work with him? ” I asked them. 
  • Ali: “He doesn’t respect me… he is a brilliant jerk… I could not be able to work with him anymore”.
  • “Ali is not a good team member, he is so lazy, and he does not care about the team… I don’t like to work with him… ”, Vahid told me.

I held a shared meeting with both of them, to help them to resolve conflict. Everything went as badly as possible. This meeting was like the first presidential debate 2020 between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Attacking, Interrupting, Not listening. I was like Chris Wallace at this meeting, without any impact. Ali left the team at the end of the week. 

https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-54352004

This bad event was a trigger for me to start improving my conflict resolution skill. Especially this kind of workplace and personal conflicts. If your team members have a conflict in the decision-making process, you can use easily facilitation techniques, but personal conflicts are so difficult. A conflict is a situation when the interests, needs, goals, or values of involved parties interfere with one another. 

In these 9 years and while coaching almost 20 different teams, I have experimented with many practices to resolve conflicts, but I want to suggest an effective one that worked for me in different situations.

Ladder of Inference

Ladder of inference, developed by a former Harvard professor Chris Argyris. Experts using the Ladder of Inference refer to “travel” on the ladder as an important way to obtain valuable insight into how a belief or action may have developed. The practice of traveling on the ladder also provides a rich opportunity to articulate the core of those inferences with other individuals and groups, particularly ones that lend themselves to vastly different conclusions and the escalation of the conflict. 

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/185280972158957444/

It’s a really easy framework to learn and adopt it as your favorite conflict management tool. Let me describe it with my own story. In our story, Vahid believed that “Ali is not a good team member, he is so lazy” (Beliefs) So, In meetings, he did not show respect to Vahid (Actions). On the opposite side, Vahid developed a belief about Ali for himself too and reacted to him.

Learning to “travel back down” the ladder to revisit, articulate, and communicate the original data each group holds in a certain light is key to increasing meaningful communication between members of a group or team while simultaneously managing conflicts more effectively. 

The key point is that, helps them to revisit or be aware of the root of their current beliefs. 

Let’s travel back down the ladder in action:

  1. We are in a planning meeting, Vahid is trying to explain a concept to the team to help them to break it down a complex task into small tasks, there are 6 team members there…. (Observation)
  2. Ali is starting to check his phone (Selected Data by Vahid)
  3. His attention is on his phone (Meaning)
  4. He is not paying attention to me (assumption)
  5. He did not care about the team (Conclusion)
  6. He is a bad team member (Belief)
  7. Ignore the Vahid at the during of this meeting (Action)

https://gelinasjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/img_3822.png

When we developed a belief about somebody, next time, we will just select data about him based on our current beliefs. Beliefs act as a filter for us, we did not see things that we do not intend to see. 

Our beliefs affect the data we select next time. So, After this planning meeting, Vahid just will see some actions of Ali that prove his belief. It is not interesting? More evidence will cause stronger beliefs and stronger conflict. It’s a loop.

Another big mistake is that You as a facilitator, try to just pay attention to actions and try to manipulate them. Lets, say Vahid, you should show respect to him, but Vahid created a strong belief about Ali that he is not a good team member. And the same thing happened to Ali too.

What we should do? Travel back down the ladder. 

As a facilitator, you should help them to travel back down the ladder. What happened that you think he is not a good team member? “He did not care about the team…”. Can you tell us why do you think he does not care about the team?

You can start this session by explaining the ladder of inference framework, you can use your own stories too, it creates good empathy. For example, I always use my story with my wife and how we developed a wrong belief about each other. She thought I did not care for her anymore, and I thought She is just a murmur… And how we used this ladder to understand what created this kind of belief. For example, Checking the phone at home when we are eating lunch, caused she developed this belief…

This image is a great example to show your team member.

https://cdn.storyboardthat.com/storyboard-srcsets/anna-warfield/loi.webp

People develop beliefs in just seconds by some limited and selected data. And these beliefs influence their actions and view of the world in the future. We should help them to be aware of the root of these beliefs, observe new data and facts, and maybe develop new beliefs.

Don’t hesitate to share your experience here with me 🙂

Best Regards

Asad Safari


Maybe you like: