Peak 2: Mauna Kea – Climbing the Self Management Mountain Range

2-mauna kea

Mauna Kea – Work

Mauna Kea in Hawaii is probably less popular and touristy than Mount Fuji and it’s already 4000 meters high, so we’ll start feeling the lack of oxygen. When a self-organized team climbs up here we can expect they’ll have to deal with work-related decisions, so we call this one this the “work mountain”.

Execution decisions

While in Mount Fuji we saw how a team could decide among them who would do what, in this step we find how a team performs their tasks, meaning what solution to choose and apply to a given problem. Our experience is limited to software development teams but we believe this step is generic enough that the main idea can be applied to teams in different industries. So if we’re talking about a software development team this would be deciding the architectural and implementation details, maybe the technical solution they’ll use and so on. This is usually easy to delegate for a manager and very positive for the team as it makes them feel more engaged and helps them find a solution that takes into account the vision of every team member.

Vacation and time

Vacation approval and working times are some low added value tasks which are pretty easy to delegate, and yet some of those we still find a lot of managers handling. Delegating part or all of these to teams can be very beneficial for both teams and their managers, whose main task will be to let go of the doubts they may have that the team takes advantage of this.

Most of the teams we have worked with have reached this level, meaning they don’t need to submit their vacation request to any manager approval. Instead, they need the ability to see who in their team is on holiday and when, so that they can ask the group for a convenient time for vacation days and the group can safely agree, based on an internal working agreement about team availability.

Within these teams, working times have more or less the same rules as holidays. What is important for these teams is that the job they committed to do gets done. Some of this job will require close collaboration, for which being together in the office will be key. Other parts won’t require close collaboration and can be done by individuals at the time they prefer, in the office or at home. This is especially clear to teams working in software development but can be easily applied to other teams in different industries.

Decaf feedback

A constant flow of feedback is obviously something extremely important in the agile world and we are fond of finding many alternative ways to keep this flow alive. We took all these possible practices for fostering feedback inside teams and classified them as coffee, because good coffee needs to wake you up, right? We believe good feedback has to have the same effects as coffee, so this feedback that wakes you up is what we call strong feedback. A decaf feedback, on the other hand, is feedback that is just okay but is not waking you up. What makes feedback stronger or softer in this scale is the emotional investment in the exercise, so how hard is to give or to receive feedback, emotionally speaking, for the individuals involved.

At this point in the climbing teams usually start to use decaf feedback. An example of decaf feedback could be an anonymous online survey, in which nobody’s looking at your face while you give feedback, nobody knows who you are and you can just say anything you want. This is pretty easy to do for the giver, even if it could be hard for the receiver, therefore it’s not equally enriching for both, and even inexperienced teams who are new to feedback can use these practices.

How are you doing with oxygen breathe? Should we keep climbing? You’re ready for the next level. We’ll be close to almost 5000 meters soon visiting Monte Bianco.