Does it have to be assigned?

This week’s Weekly Inspection focuses on enabling self-organization.

Self-organization is a key component of a successful Agile team. Autonomous, self-directed teams perform better because of their members’ intrinsic desire to accomplish something. A self-organized team is on a mission, they support a cause. A team whose tasks are assigned by their manager is just a collection of order takers. They’re not a self-organized team, they’re a manager-organized team.

How does a manager break the assignment cycle?

  • Step back. The team won’t step up if you’re always taking the lead. Spend less time engaging with them tactically, and more time engaging with them strategically.
  • Ask questions. It doesn’t matter if you know the path the team should take. Shortcutting their discovery process may save you time in the short run, but will hinder the team’s performance potential in the long run. Asking questions not only safeguards yourself against dictating the path forward, it also reinforces alignment between you and the team.
  • Embrace the silence. Articulate the problem, illustrate the vision, then stop talking. The team has the skills to find and execute the solution – it’s why you hired them! The reason they’re not volunteering solutions or action is because you’re still talking. The silence may feel awkward at first, but the team will soon fill it with brilliant ideas that wouldn’t have emerged with all the noise.

Want to contribute to The Weekly Inspection? Let’s connect at @johnkrewson.

John Krewson

John started Sketch in service to the mission of improving the ways people and teams work together. His past experiences as an agilist and professional actor are the primary sources of inspiration in leading this mission.

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