A team at this stage of its agile journey is in the Shu stage of Shu Ha Ri.
A Stage One team is typically either just learning how to be agile, or hasn’t firmly committed to changing the way that they work.
Self-management is the key to moving to the next stage of agility.
Self-management isn’t chaos. It requires management to set guardrails that define the boundaries for team-level actions, behaviours, and expected outputs.
Management 3.0 reminds us that self-management has various levels of action. Based on a team’s maturity, a manager might completely delegate action to a team, but might make certain decisions themselves.
When making decisions to support self-management, be consistent.
Self-management will require managers and leaders to set guardrails for team work, to step back from handing out and delegating tasks, and to promote cross-functional team work.
Focus on building a team over having a collection of people who simply coordinate their work. Encouraging cross-functionality will reduce functional silos, reduce handovers between team members, and support team members to work collectively toward team goals over focusing on individual work tasks.
Delivery effectiveness will increase if managers shift to managing the environment of work and trust and support the team to focus on teamwork to get the job done.
Most Stage One teams get traction when they chose an agile framework, like Scrum, and just stick to the basics. 80% of teams start with Scrum – its 5 events, 3 artefacts and 3 roles – make it easy to start with.
This Start Simple pattern is often referred to as Shu in the Shu Ha Ri pattern byagile manifesto founders Martin Fowler and Alastair Cockburn.
Build a cross-functional team of up to 10 people. Good teams have all the skills they need to deliver their work without having to rely on others outside the team.
Ensure the work comes to them over spreading people across multiple projects as this behaviour increases variability and reduces transparency of work.
Help the team to make decisions that change the the way they work by drawing on the principles of the Agile Manifesto. When a challenging scenario presents itself, consider what the Agile Manifesto and its principles recommend is the best way forward.
An awareness that there’s a better way to work comes first, and then a desire to change. For people to change the way they work, you have to determine the “what’s in it for me” factor and promote it. If you’re wanting people to work as a single team over their functional silos then understanding the “why” and “what’s in it for me” is critical to helping them change.
Try not to just tweak current work processes. Real improvement requires real change. Choose one thing to change and then commit to changing it. When that shows results, then change the next thing. Iterative improvement helps reduce the stress associated with big change.