From previous experience, it has become apparent that my work as an Agile Coach has the most impact if we agree on the following principles. If we don’t we will pull in different directions as soon as we hit some bumps in the road and we’ll both be frustrated. So, let’s not do that 🙂
- People are inherently good and want to do the right thing (when in a nurturing environment, Theory Y)
- People are motivated by autonomy, mastery, purpose and inclusion
- If you treat people like adults they will act like adults. If you treat them like children, they will act like children.
- “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.” Start with why
- “The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive.”
- People can only have close relationships with a limited amount of people
My ideal coaching gig
I am motivated by working with founders on setting up minimal org structures and processes that enable the following.
What we will try to achieve
autonomous, self-sufficient, cross-functional teams
- because in a complex context of uncertain requirements they outperform organizations of functional silos (handovers = waste)
- they are also more rewarding for individuals working within them (autonomy)
create a safe space that enables teams to be more productive
- where people trust each other and cooperate
- where people feel safe to experiment
- where people feel safe to admit failure and are ready to learn from it
This means many traditional management practices won’t apply and we will implement some variation of the following as appropriate to your context.
- Shared purpose: a shared purpose ensures we pull in the same direction while making decentralized decisions
- Peer feedback: Because people work in cross-functional teams feedback needs to come from your peers instead of a single supervisor.
- Salary process with peer involvement
- Host leadership: A host makes sure everyone is having a good time but has the mandate and the responsibility to step in if need be
- Title-less roles: Titles imply coercive authority. They prevent people from taking action because someone else is en’title’d to take action instead.
- Career development outside of titles or hierarchy. Getting better at what you do instead of managing others.
- Transparency: “Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.”, “when team members are entrusted with all the information available, they can make the same decisions a founder would in their case”
- Value creation network as model for the organization instead of a command & control power hierarchy
- Decentralized decision-making with the advice process and conflict resolution process.
- Learning organization: Continuous learning on individual, team and company level (e.g. through personal development budgets, Open Spaces, Brown Bag Lunches, Communities of Practice etc.)
- and then some…
We’ll know that we are on the right track by measuring customer and employee satisfaction.
Don’t worry, we won’t tackle all of these on day one, but we need to agree that this is where we are heading.
What I expect my role to be like
- I should be in close collaboration with the leadership of the organization to have the clout to make organizational change happen.
- I will involve people that are affected by a change in the change process. This takes more time than “just doing it”, but it also has a higher likelihood of acceptance and success.
- I should not have coercive power over anyone. It gets in the way of coaching.
What you can expect of me
- challenge the status quo
- facilitate change processes on team (retro) and company level
- meet people where they are
- giving concrete steps to imitate (Shu)
- helping to understand principles (Ha) or
- support self-directed innovation (Ri)
- be a source of knowledge and experience about Agile teams and organizations, Lean and systems thinking from other companies and my network
- be pragmatic: I don’t care, if we call it XP, Scrum, Kanban or something else. Let’s do things that help teams be more effective and not argue about what the name of it is.
- here is a list of 42 tasks that more or less resemble what this means on a more concrete level for teams
- here is what this might look like for organizational changes
- at the risk of being very buzzwordy, these are the ideas and concepts that heavily influence my thinking: Agile Manifesto, Scrum, Kanban, Lean Startup, Jobs to be done, Design Thinking, Teal Organizations, BetaCodex
- I often get inspiration from these orgs: Buffer, Basecamp, Enspiral, Spotify and Jimdo
Signs that we might be a good fit
- You read Reinventing Organisations, and while you are not convinced about all of it, the general idea of teal organizations gets you excited, because it feels like “the right thing to do”
- Long-term success is more important to you than hitting quarterly numbers
- Achieving your company purpose is more important to you than getting rich
Red flags indicating we might not be a match
The following might be indicators (not the reasons) that we don’t agree on principles and should not work together.
- You want to grow your head count because that shows progress
- Hitting quarterly revenue forecasts is more important than long term success
- You think people bringing their authentic selfs to work is esoteric bullshit
- You want people to be interchangeable cogs in your machine
- You have a dress code at work
- Your business model is based on revenue from advertisement or selling people’s data to third parties
What I’d like to discuss before we agree to work together
- Who owns the company? Do you have investors? What is their involvement? How free are you in running experiments on organizational level?
- Do we agree on the principles described above? Where do we disagree? Is that a problem?
- What are your personal goals? How does the company fit in those?
If you read this far, let’s talk.