Let’s ask the Team

What would happen if we ask the teams, what they need to be successful? 

It can hardly have missed your attention that it has become a “management thing” how teams are supposed to work. Just look e.g., at the “Agile Transformations” initiated by executive management.

Would the teams ask for the same things that the management believes are needed for successful teams?

Did management choose to impose e.g., SAFe on the organization because of its own convenience, or based on a respectful dialogue with the doers in the organization?

I’ve been doing my own non-scientific survey – with a clean whiteboard, what would the teams write on it?

NB – I’m here using the notion of “team” in a broad sense (project team, product team ..) working with unique problems.

The team perspective, what came on the whiteboard

Do not impose some framework on us, telling us how we work the best. Ask us how you can support us to work with better effect and efficiency.

Do not impose some “coach” on us. Invite us to ask for support and guidance, when we need it. Yes – sometimes e.g., an “Agile Coach” is exactly what we need … we’ll let you know should that be the case.

Do not tell us what solution to implement. Tell us what business / customer problem needs to be solved and trust our ability to discover the best solution to the problem.

Do not measure us on our efficiency to produce Output like a lean machine. Measure us on the Outcome, the effect made, from the discovered solution to the business / customer problem.

Do not ask us for high-integrity commitments in a high-uncertainty area. Support us designing and running Desirability, Feasibility and Viability tests bringing down uncertainty, and then we’re happy to bring high-integrity commitments.

Do not tell us what tools we need in our toolbox, and free us from the process-people in their Ivory Tower. Support us developing and sharing knowledge across the teams, and we’ll take full responsibility for our toolbox, just like any other professional. Often, we’ll appreciate and ask for outside inspiration and knowledge in our quest for professional excellence.

Do not strangle us in bureaucracy and policing. We acknowledge the need to follow a minimum viable set of mandatory processes, but apart from that, respect our ability to do the right thing at the right point in time. We might even have good-practice process fragments in our shared toolbox.

Do not send us on a mission without rationale or as a team not suited for the job. We expect you to show active and strategic leadership, ensuring that the business / customer problems served for us, are the right ones. We also expect you to get our team topology right and suited for the job ahead.

Do not let us hanging in the dark when we need guidance, strategic decisions or removal of impediments. Be available quickly to unfreeze us, and when done, please do not stand in our way.

A boiled-down version could be something like this:

Two to tango

A challenge

When did you last time give your teams full attention and really listen to their needs and concerns without any prejudices?