Promote Your Teams

Promote your teams!
Last year I wrote a blog post about self-organization. During the last weeks I talked, read and thought a lot about this topic and my (not so groundbreaking) conclusion so far is, that self-organization describes a great variety of possibilities to organize yourself.

An interesting and fundamental model of levels of self-organization can be found in Hackman's book "Leading Teams". He describes four such levels:

  1. Manager-led teams (team executes team tasks)
  2. Self-managing teams (team monitores and manages work process)
  3. Self-designing teams (team designes itself and the organizational context)
  4. Self-governing teams (team sets its own overall direction)

Hackman writes, that well functioning teams are mostly on levels 2 and 3. But even on those two levels you can certainly find more distinct levels of self-organization and team responsibility.

After all I read and saw so far, the effectiveness of a team correlates strongly with its ability to self-organize. The more a team is able to work on level 3, the more effective it can be. But sadly not every team is able and/or willing to take the responsiblities necessary to function well on level 3 without damaging its context or parts of the team.

After this being said - this sounds very much like a classical career path to me. Not for individuals, but for whole teams. If your goal is to develop effective teams in your organization and you believe, that a high level of responsibility and self-organization is necessary to become effective as a team - then why don't you make this explicit by having a team career path? This might be one way, to empower your teams step by step. Of course it must be clear which levels exist, and what preconditions and responsibilities are bound to what level. Additionally you will surely need some expert coaching for your teams to guide them on their way up the team career ladder.

Don't get me wrong - I do not say that you should abolish individual career paths. I just suggest to have an additional career path for teams, too. Furthermore the rewards for climbing up this career ladder must not be financial ones, but just giving a team more freedom and rights in its actions if it has proven to be able and willing to take more responsibility.

What do you think about the idea of team careers? Do you have any experiences with concepts like this?


Empower! Your! Teams!

Empower the Team!
I have seen it time and again: Teams that would probably be able to be high performaning, but are not able to live up to their potential. Why? Because they are used, seen and organized as efficient task processing units.

Most teams could deliver a much greater performance and experience, if they would only be given serious challenges and the freedom to act.

Unleash the potential of your teams and

  • compose them in a way that they are able to resolve real holistic challenges (you might call it cross-functional)
  • let them use their creative potential by not giving them only tasks - but challenges (maybe a Product Owner that writes some demanding and sufficiently unclear User Stories)
  • let them really self-organize and find the best local process to resolve those challenges
  • let them evolve as a team (and not only a bunch of individuals) - e.g. have carreer paths for teams
  • tell them clearly what they are responsible for and what not
  • give them some useful coaching (e.g. a ScrumMaster)

You might now say: Hey, that sounds like I should do Scrum with my teams. But the bad news is: Scrum is only a process and might probably help you to identify the problem of an underperforming team. But it will not solve your problems. Besides this, Scrum has the disadvantage to introduce the roles ScrumMaster and Product Owner, which empirically draw to much attention away from the teams.

So - don't wait! Not for Scrum and not for any other useful or useless framework. Start tomorrow and seek ways to EMPOWER YOUR TEAMS!

Disclaimer: I love Scrum! It is the best framework for software development I have seen so far. The roles Product Owner and ScrumMaster are very essential and useful roles and in my opinion absolutely necessary. Nevertheless you should never forget, that the ultimate goal should always be to deliver a great product - which lays in the hands of the team in great parts!