When I first became managers’ manager I had a dream of a Scrum team of leaders.
The basic reasons for this was the same as for any Scrum team. Especially to make the team less vulnerable by giving all the same information at the same point in time (morning meetings) and being able to pick each other’s tasks. The management above us should get used to that anyone of us could show up at their meetings and that it didn’t matter, since all of us had the same information anyway. If one of us were ill or on vacation we didn’t have to find a stand in. Someone else would pick “my” tasks. They were on the board and all of us understood what they meant. Some of the tasks weren’t for anyone, like the salary talks. But we tried to make all tasks pick able for all of us.
So, first I picked my new managers.
Having the needed culture from the start made things easier.
I made sure they had a servant leadership style and they should always represent their group’s opinions and needs. Having the needed culture from the start made things easier.
Once a month we did a planning session. We then had a retrospective of how it went, if we were satisfied with the progress we made. We also revisited the targets, reprioritized them and decided on the next steps. We of course identified next steps every morning by the board too, but sometimes it can be good to rise the perspective and plan a little bit. We also identified what stopped us. We realized we spent too much time with the HR process; target setting, performance review and salary talks. So we experimented a bit with this. That might be another blog post.
Visualising Management’s Work
We started with a simple board and put everything we did on the board.
We started with a simple board and put everything we did on the board. The board was visible for anyone at the company.
It could be improvements, salary talks, fire extinguishing etc. The board was visible for anyone at the company. Sometimes my manager went by to see what we were doing. Appreciated, since that gives a signal that the information at the board are useful not only to us, but to others too.
We had a template for the notes on the board:
- Problem we are trying to solve
- Wanted position
- Next step
- Definition of done for the next step
Some of the notes didn’t follow the template, if they were too short or obvious. But the definition of done was really important to make the task clear enough.
Evolving The Visualisation
We soon realized we needed two things: One column called “Check” and some targets to work against.
Examples of this can be a new flow that were implemented in Jira. Good for now, but needed to be evaluated after some time. Then we put a check date on the note and put it on Check. Or when we delegated things. We didn’t work actively on the task, but it needed to be followed up at some point in time.
The check column was for things that weren’t really done, but just done for now. We weren’t working with them for time being, but they needed to be evaluated in a couple of months’ time or so.
The notes were placed in date order, so we only needed to look at the top of the column to see if something needed to be checked.
The next thing was the targets.
First of all we started the process of setting targets for the department. We had some targets for the company and of course we needed to make sure that we helped out with reaching these targets. The managers knew well where the pain points were within their group. So we put everything on the table and had a whole day workshop with formulating and prioritizing the targets.
When we had approx. 7-10 targets we put them in a google docs survey and let the whole department vote on which ones that were most important and they could also comment and suggest completely new ones. Since the managers were well aware of their team’s opinions, this didn’t happen. The survey result was in no way surprising. But it felt good to have reconciled with the department before deciding on three or four targets that were top prio.
The vision came from the department as well, so we didn’t invent anything in a closed room. I felt we had everyone on board.
We took the chosen targets and put them next to the board. Of course we also communicated to the rest of the department which the targets were and what our vision looked like. The vision came from the department as well, so we didn’t invent anything in a closed room. I felt we had everyone on board.
I realize now that it sounds like the targets were only up to us as a management team, but no, as I said earlier, the managers were used to work with their group, so I think everyone felt involved. I certainly do hope so.
This method made us work actively with our targets as a team and made sure we reached them. Since then I have used the same method in various projects, at it seems to work as well for project teams as it does for leadership groups.