Let people self-organise

From the series of posts on Self-Organisation.

When you have attended a workshop, training or other events that involve group activities you probably have heard something like:

now form two groups/teams and then ...

In this sentence there is the 1st prerequisite to self-organisation: let people do it.
It start with a purpose: some work that needs to be done.

A principle of the Agile Manifesto states:

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Another principle from the same manifesto states:

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

While it seems easy to let people do it, in some organisations and for some managers that can be a challenge.

The traditional organisation of work put a clear distinction between who is responsible and who is accountable. It require a distinction between who designs the solution, who implements it and who tests it. Some managers are expected to plan, assign and monitor the execution of  every single task. 
This approach let those who implement the solution without authority, with limited information and with limited possibilities of cross-functional collaboration. These are obstacles for self-organisation.
Scientific studies and experiments [1] show that for complex challenges a different organisation of work, where self-organisation can happen, is more effective.  

Some managers assume that workers dislike work and will avoid it when possible, and prefer to be directed to avoid responsibilities
In some cases this can be the result of poor recruiting. In other cases this is just a preconceived perception [2].  

To conclude, let people do it means that
  • the organisation is dealing with challenges that benefit from a different organisation of work where self-organisation can happen
  • recruiting select individuals that like their careers and are willing to take part in responsibilities
  • managers have ways to manage the team and influence the outcome without impeding self-organisation
The last point will be developed in the next post about boundaries and barriers.
[1] The Agility Advantage, David S. Alberts. http://www.dodccrp.org/files/agility_advantage/Agility_Advantage_Book.pdf
[2] Theory X and Theory Y. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_X_and_Theory_Y

Print | posted @ mercoledì 12 marzo 2014 01:26

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