(veja versão em português abaixo)

It’s notorious the benefits of using Agile Methodologies. In Scrum, for example, one of these benefits, that aims to emphasize the teamwork, is the incentive to have self managed teams. In this way, it’s expected that the team is able to take decisions related to the workflow.

However, in organizations where the traditional methodologies are widely used (as it has become part of its organizational DNA), one of the problems to be solved is: How to make the transition from managed/controlled teams, where all decisions are centralized on the project manager, to self managed teams able to decide the way to proceed with the project activities?

The solution to this (not easy) problem should address the analysis of different aspects that are important to guarantee the quality for the project deliveries.

For example:

  • efficiency: teams in a low maturity level (or low commitment to the project results) can have their performance jeopardized due to the lack of focus and objectivity, or due to the delay in taking decisions.
  • visibility: all the main project stakeholders, even is a high level, need to be aware of the status of the project. In this way, it’s needed to assign a person to be the point of contact or to create mechanisms to make the information available.
  • motivation: a self managed team can, in any point in time, fell uncomfortable in the organization due to the lack of monitoring and assessment, what can lead to motivations problems that can affect the ‘will’ for the project results.
  • conflicts: with no leadership formally assigned by the organization and the way that the team handle the intern conflicts (or even external influences) may lead to a loss of productivity/performance that can directly affect quality. Nevertheless, even the organization can assign a expert to manage the conflicts, it’s still required a way to identify that they exist and the extend of the problems caused.

Additionally,  when we have team members working together, it’s always possible that some kind of leadership is created among the team members. In this way, it’s needed to establish mechanisms to avoid the decision concentration, and guarantee that the decision is shared by the whole group, maximizing the benefits of self-managed teams. An alternative to avoid this kind of problem would be frequent team members changes. This approach, even can reduce the risk to have  the decisions made by the new developed leadership, can lead to poor relationship among the team members. What also can impact on the velocity measurement used by agile methodologies like SCRUM.

In short, the problem do exist and it’s the Scrum Master the chosen one to address it. This person will be in charge to educate the team to make it really self managed.

The solution to this problem requires the:

  • definition of the expected objectives.
  • establishment of an appropriate training plan.
  • definition of metrics to measure the performance.
  • definition of an internal process and tools implementation.
  • establishment of follow up routines (coaching, status meetings, feedback sessions, etc.).

Summarizing, the usage of self management ways of working in project based organizations is very useful in the way that it:

  • increases the organization capacity to manage multiple projects (responsibility sharing).
  • increases the team empowerment (that influences in a direct way the project results).
  • stimulates the active participation of all team members (active contribution to the project objectives).

Giovani Faria

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