Why teams don’t work

Posted Leave a commentPosted in management

Very good article about Teams performance by J. Richard Hackman


Mistakes Managers Make

  1. Use a Team for Work That Is Better Done by Individuals
  2. Call the Performing Unit a Team but Really Manage Members as Individuals
  3. Fall Off the Authority Balance Beam
  4. Dismantle Existing Organizational Structures So That Teams Will Be Fully “Empowered”to Accomplish the Work
  5. Specify Challenging Team Objectives, but Skimp on Organizational Supports
  6. Assume That Members Already Have All the Skills They Need to Work Well as a Team

How teams are often formed:

There are two different strategies that managers use to implement work teams without upsetting the corporate applecart.

One is to try to capture the benefits of teamwork by relying mainly on rhetoric and training. Members are told that they are now in teams, team leaders are appointed, and everyone is sent off to get training in good team processes. It is easy to implement teams this way—neither organizational structures nor managers’ own behaviors need change. But such teams are more ephemeral than real, and mere changes in appearances rarely yield measurable improvements in organizational outcomes.

The second strategy is to form real teams—intact, performing units whose members share responsibility for some product or service—but to lay them atop existing organizational structures and systems. The rationale, as one manager told me, is to see how well they perform before making other organizational changes that could be hard to reverse.

This is exactly why network structure is suggested as preferred approach for complex and ambiguous tasks:

  • Teams oriented approach
  • Organizational structure must reflect value delivery, not work composition

Top 2 reads of the year

Posted Leave a commentPosted in management

1. Wardley Maps

About situational awareness and strategic planning. This includes, why maps matter, how to map, some common economic patterns useful for prediction, common forms of doctrine and the concept of context specific gameplay.

Video: https://vimeo.com/189984496

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/swardley/an-introduction-to-wardley-maps

2. Boiling frogs

GCHQ’s internal Boiling Frogs research paper on software development and organisational change in the face of disruption – https://github.com/gchq/BoilingFrogs

The pace of disruptive change is increasing, from the rise of cloud technology, social business, the Internet of Things and others. We feel it as much as other government departments and so we offer this internal research paper publicly, not to present policy or guidelines, but to stimulate debate.

So why the title “Boiling Frogs?” The story goes that if a frog is placed in a saucepan of cold water, which is slowly heated, the frog adapts its body temperature to the changing heat of the water and gradually goes to sleep. The frog goes to sleep at 40 ˚C, unaware that at 100 ˚C it will boil! However, if the frog is placed in already boiling water it immediately jumps out to safety.

p.s. other people who made a significant influence – http://agilemindstorm.com/2015/05/12/people-that-made-great-impact-on-my-thinking/

External provider

Posted Leave a commentPosted in management

When do you use external service provider? I tried following:

  • To provide commodity infrastructure services – in progress, think will work
  • Commercial offerings without mixing in people from your company (defined scope and budget) – failed
  • Fast experiments to validate options (no integration with platform, no involvement of internal people) – success
  • Commercial offerings with heavily involving teams from your company (not fixing scope, but only cooperation period) – success
  • Bringing in industry accepted expert for knowledge sharing, problem solving, review (short-term: up to 2 weeks) – success


Posted Leave a commentPosted in management

When you start defining too many rules. Be aware that people might start working according them!

Work-to-rule is an industrial action in which employees are entitled to do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and precisely follow all safety or other regulations, which may cause a slowdown or decrease in productivity, as they are no longer working during breaks or during unpaid extended hours and weekends (checking email, for instance).[1][2]Such an action is considered less disruptive than a strike or lockout; and obeying the rules is less susceptible to disciplinary action. Notable examples have included nurses refusing to answer telephones, teachers refusing to work for free at night and during weekends and holidays, and police officers refusing to issue citations. Refusal to work overtime, travel on duty, or sign up to other tasks requiring employee assent are other manifestations of using work-to-rule as industrial action.