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.
Working in timeboxes and with agile artefacts are examples of guardrails. Establish which ones are non-negotiable.
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.
Communicate “why” you want teams to be agile – the impacts and outcomes you want from contemporary ways of working.
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 made famous by agile manifesto founders Martin Fowler and Alastair Cockburn.
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.
1. Hodgson, M. R., and Horrigan, M. B. (2021) Executive Agile Leadership