Joseph received his Doctorate from UMUC in Management. He retired from the Army after 23 years of service, working in intelligence, behavioral health, and entertainment.
John, the CEO of TechsAll, Inc., is moving his organization into agile thinking and principles. He holds a large meeting to discuss the need to focus on the consumer and their feelings towards the products and services TechsAll provides.
John shares his vision to become the tech company with the highest quality product based on customer interactions and communication. He excites his company to pursue these new principles, but after the meeting everything stays the same and the problems remain, decreasing morale.
John's organization starts to flounder as his employees scramble to figure out what to do better. This is where John should have worked on creating and reinforcing stable teams.
Put simply, agile principles focus on encounters and people instead of products. One of the primary goals is to simplify and eliminate unnecessary actions, making an organization more consistent and stable. However, the process of changing your business from the current standard to agile thinking can be challenging. It can destabilize your institution unless you have got a solid infrastructure, which should start with stable and skilled teams.
How to Create a Stable Team
The main working parts of any organization are the people; the teams of managers and support staff. They are the framework and foundation of your business, which means they need to be set up, stabilized, and working consistently before you continue your agile transformation. To start you will need to:
- Reassess current teams: are the current teams set up best for agile thinking? Are small teams set up with people that have a variety of skills to bring to the table?
- Review leadership roles: make sure your team leaders are going to be the most effective for the teams created.
Agile teams usually are not built of all software engineers or customer service reps. Instead, you have a team of seven people, and each of them brings a different talent to the group. For example, one of John's teams has a customer service rep, a graphic designer, a software engineer, a hardware specialist, and so on.
Once you've analyzed the skills of your employees and managers, you can set up the new, smaller teams. These groups will have an easier time communicating because of their size. Also, due to their variety of skills, each individual will be able to bring new eyes to a project, creating insular and self-sustaining teams.
Communities of Practice
The only issue with these insular teams is that they start to work so fluidly that they stop communicating with other teams and employees. This is where communities of practice become important. Communities of practice are voluntarily run groups of like-minded individuals within your organization. For example, a community of employees with a passion for software creation or a community with people who love graphic design.
These communities bring employees with similar ideas together, creating more communication throughout your organization. It can also inspire new ideas, since people bounce innovations back and forth with people that have the same background.
Forming a Stable Team Organization
Now that you have stable teams you can design your organization around them. The following are some ways to start this process:
Assign decision makers
John's teams are set up with selected leaders, but who is making the decisions on what team works what project? The senior management staff should have delegated responsibilities, including who makes those decisions.
Issue new standards
Since John's organizational structure has changed dramatically, he needs to issue a reevaluated set of standard practices for the employees to follow.
Distribute team work
Each employee should know their job description and responsibilities. These may have to be changed from their original duties, so John outlines these to keep his teams productive.
John's teams each have a tech support expert in them, so he no longer needs a technical support department. However, some departments should stay fairly status quo, such as human resources and training.
Once these standard needs are addressed, John will need to work on reinforcement and support. He can do this by some of the following things:
- Promoting communication: John creates outside opportunities for team growth. The better your teams communicate, the better they'll work together.
- Creating team goals: John sits down with his team and has them help him create a goal for a project. The more they're invested in their own success, the harder they'll work to achieve it.
- Developing independence: Agile thinking promotes independence. John helps his employees feel empowered to work independently. The less he micromanages, the more his employees will feel their skills are supported.
- Accepting mistakes: In an agile environment, risk is encouraged, and mistakes will be made. John emphasizes that mistakes or failed attempts are acceptable.
Let's take a few moments to recap some of the important information that we learned in this lesson about creating stable teams during a company's agile transformation. Agile principles focus on the interactions and people more than products and services. This way of thinking creates a whole new environment in your organization. To make sure the transformation to agile is successful, you must create and support stable teams. You must also design your organization around those teams so everything works smoothly.
Since the main foundation of your company is your people, it is important during an agile transformation that you reassess current teams and review leadership roles in order to recreate new agile teams. These teams will incorporate a variety of differently skilled individuals, which enables self-contained work. However, it's absolutely vital to create communities of practice, which are voluntarily run groups of like-minded individuals, to foster communication and shared ideas.
Once you have created your teams and communities, you can organize the structure and standards of your business by addressing:
- Decision making
- Standards and requirements
- Team work distribution
- Unnecessary departments
To support your stable teams your organization should:
- Promote communication
- Create team goals
- Develop independence
- Accept mistakes
This way, your teams continue to be the solid backbone of your company while you navigate the agility transformation.
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