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  • Writer's pictureMark Cruth

Session 4: Agile & Beyond 2019

Updated: Oct 22, 2019

Agile & Beyond 2019 Group! There were even people in the hallway!

The forth session in the World Without Hierarchy Project is in the books! It occurred on May 30, 2019 with ~75 people at the annual Agile & Beyond conference in Detroit, Michigan. The game continues to evolve, and with the innovative minds from Detroit you'll see we're getting some very creative ideas! Check out the AMAZING results below!

Experiment 1: Managing Performance

Background: There is no longer a leader to ensure all work gets done. Without a hierarchy, there is no one to reprimand or reward team performance. As a result, not everyone may pull their own weight to complete the tasks. If not everyone is working hard, the team will be less productive resulting in less business value delivered and smaller profits.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Identify a rotating team facilitator to monitor team performance and to track progress towards team goals. Norms should be set to define the facilitators role.

  2. Establish a system to recognize each other's performance that holds some monetary value

  3. Establish clear, open and frequent communication among all team members and stakeholders. Face to face communication is preferred. This culture must encourage open feedback.

Hypothesis: We believe having a rotating team facilitator will help everyone be accountable and will result in everyone being able to have a voice and be part of making leadership decisions. We'll know this to be true when everyone is doing the work they're committed to and the team delivers work on time.

Experiment Details: On a frequent basis (no longer than two weeks) a team member will act as a facilitator. For this to work, team members will commit to completing tasks and the facilitator will ensure the team members are on track to completing the work. The facilitator can recognize good performance or speak to team members not making sufficient progress. Since the role is rotating, this will foster a culture of feedback, open communication, and everyone will share responsibilities for the teams performance.

Experiment 2: Why The Change?

Background: The company is being flattened and the employees don't know what it looks like for ReimagineCorp 2.0.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Communicate goal and vision to get team members on board with the change

  2. Let employees decide if they want to stay or leave

  3. Let remaining employees decide how to reorganize to effectively run the company

Hypothesis: We believe that if we engage employees to help reshape the company, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction will increase, more employees will be attracted to working at the company, and morale will increase as will customer satisfaction. We'll know this to be true when we survey the employees to measure satisfaction and look at employee retention / new hire rates. Additionally, market share will go up showing our customers are happy with this change in direction.

Experiment Details:

  • Who: Employees

  • What: Clear and transparent communication face-to-face with employees in workshop format

  • Where: In employee environment to determine what their vision will be to enhance products and possibly develop new products for customers

  • When: Immediately to gather info...1-2 months start to implement...survey to obtain results

  • How: Virtual reality WebEx with video to allow face-to-face interaction

Experiment 3: Awarding Performance

Background: In an organization without hierarchy, how do we set and measure expectations?

Hypothesis: We believe creating a team meeting to define success measures for compensation benefits will result in creating and fostering a more dynamic and transparent work environment.

Experiment Details: During the meeting highlight what work individuals have done. Ensure the team defines what their success measures will be. Define financial benefits and what skill sets are worth per team. There will be different levels of teams based on project priority, skill sets, etc. We will need to work with HR to set these standards and will need to define a set of criteria to measure success.

Experiment 4: Product Roadmaps

Background: How to handle self-organized teams and the future of the product roadmap. This is important so we can continue to deliver quality products to our customers.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Faster and continuous communication

  2. Having a common inbox

  3. Establish mentors

Hypothesis: We believe that establishing open forums, increasing email communication, and establishing a product mentoring community will result in higher morale and a feeling of safety in ones position. We'll know this to be true when we retrospective the results and see higher customer satisfaction.

Experiment Details: Focus on individual departments first (e.g. sales, development). Listen to feedback and adjust.

Experiment 5: Decision Process

Background: How to create the decision feedback mechanism to know the choices that best serve the company.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Feedback mechanism

  2. Allow everyone to come up with a solution

  3. Reorganize by value stream

Hypothesis: We believe that changing culture by reorganizing teams will improve the feedback process. We'll know this to be true when there is better communication between teams.

Experiment 6: What's Our Purpose?

Background: How can team members contribute to company purpose efficiently? This is important because the new organization must be better than the current hierarchy and individuals must have a sense of purpose to give purpose to the company. This purpose will translate into value for our customers.

Brainstorm Solutions: Fluid groups organized around free ideas and actualization

Hypothesis: We believe establishing communication for ideas and membership will result in teams forming organically as issue are identified through the normal course of business. We'll know this to be true when some number of teams exist, and teams are showing progress towards goals.

Experiment Details: Pitch an idea and ask for help. Work with whoever shows up. Communicate success to the organization.

Experiment 7: Mergers and Acquisitions

Background: How to move forward with future mergers and acquisitions. These are core to growth and strategy. The current ones will already go through, but growth could be limited/impacted without an organized group.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Open forum open to all employees to discuss a merger/acquisition and offer follow up discussions in online/smaller groups for individuals to contribute and collect before deciding.

  2. Rotate a facilitator when considering a merger/acquisition

  3. Self-organized group to facilitate and pitch a merger/acquisition

Hypothesis: We believe having a rotating group of three core people facilitating the merge/acquisition decisions will solve this problem and result in merger/acquisition work still being important, work being shared across the organization, eliminates one person dictating from top down, and different perspectives and priorities being considered. We'll know this to be true when there's a successful merger/acquisition that results in money, growth, etc., as well as company wide clarity and engagement.

Experiment Details: Setup a trial where the company elects three key team members from different departments to lead a merger/acquisition (one of the three must be familiar with the process). Run in parallel with a merger/acquisition that is currently in progress to gather feedback and pain points. Do a second trial in parallel to original group on new merger/acquisition to gather additional feedback and pain points. Use the two trials to build out learnings, who needs to be involved, the process, and clarity in roles and expectations.

Experiment 8: Show We Tell Our Customers?

Background: How do we keep our focus on the customer and improve client relationships? How do we deliver the correct value? How do we communicate effectively?

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Communicate and keep the client updated on our transformation

  2. Meet with customers and understand their top priorities to ensure a successful relationship

Hypothesis: We believe communicating to our customers about our transformation will result in a better relationship with our clients. We'll know this to be true when people are more open, productive, and our customers are happier.

Experiment Details: One team will contact their existing client and communicate openly about the change. We will have a chance to discuss the clients concerns and priorities. We will then ask if they are comfortable in continuing with business with us. A "yes" will provide out our experiment.

Experiment 9: Priorities

Background: How do we handle prioritization or work?

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Team consensus of tasks

  2. Nominate a prioritizer

  3. Prioritize alphabetically

Hypothesis: We believe establishing priorities by consensus will result in the best possible prioritization of work for our team. We'll know this to be true when customer remain happy.

Experiment Details: Small team that works effectively together should try this out. Remove their management structure, teach them prioritization via consensus, and measure the happiness of the customer.

Experiment 10: Firing Someone

Background: How do you fire someone without managers? How do you effectively evaluate/terminate someone?

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Hire a lawyer

  2. Network with existing HR and Legal departments

  3. Identify roles and key members needed to terminate a relationship

Hypothesis: We believe networking with existing HR and Legal staff within the company to get an understanding of how to terminate someone will result in us being able to leverage existing experience and have a smooth transition for the terminated staff member. We'll know this to be true when in a year, the person fired has not sued the company and the team performs better without business impact.

Experiment Details: Check out the company directory and connect with someone from HR/Legal. Hold a team huddle to provide evidence for HR and Legal to provide evidence of need to fire.

Experiment 11: Salaries and Raises

Background: How are we going to establish salaries and handle raises? This matters because money is a a main reason people work. They want to know clear expectations of when and how to get a raise. They want to know that salaries are fair for existing and new employees.

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Have a group with each discipline divide salaries to each discipline and let them decide how to allocate

  2. Flat rate by seniority based on profit with a standard starting rate

  3. You post the desired salary for the year and what you will do for it. Team votes on whether you should get the salary. Raise is completion plus above promised / team vote.

Hypothesis: We believe having team members submit their desired salary amount and what they will do to receive it will result in visibility and clarity of expectations, plus accountability of outcome. We'll know this to be true when turnover decreases as a result of increased satisfaction with pay.

Experiment Details: Will use one group of people to pool all salaries and have them split this up using the process to see if the salary division aligns to the current level. If salary is divided within a percentage the group deems acceptable, roll out to discipline groups with a wider salary variance. If model holds, expand across all disciplines.

Experiment 12: Falling Back On Old Ways

Background: How do we handle the normal aspects of running a business (ex. budgeting) without the hierarchy reforming?

Brainstorm Solutions:

  1. Self-forming committees that collectively decide things for their area of focus (budget, sales, marketing, HR)

  2. Create a small section of the company, with one person from each team to pilot the solution. Provide a set of objectives and have them decide on conflicts, resources, priorities, reporting, and communications.

Hypothesis: We believe establishing a peer steering committee will result in generating guide lines, objective decision making, removed control, and resolve conflicts. We'll know this to be true when teams feel their self-managed, speed of decisions increases, and client/employee satisfaction improves.

Experiment Details: Run a pilot program with one rep from each team in a specific area. Provide scenario for objectives to reach desired results.

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