Friday, February 20, 2015

Let'em figure it out

"Let them figure it out" is the mantra for small team management at its best. I'm constantly amazed at how fast and successfully small teams converge to a local optimization, finding a methodology for doing whatever they are doing that maximizes their interests.

In several recent situations I was an observer and a participant as 20 or teams of anywhere from 2 to 6 people were given the same task, given the same instructions, given the same resources, and had the same strategic goal.

What happened?

There were about a half dozen unique methods that were synthesized in real time, tested, and the most advantageous selected. What I noticed were several dynamics working nearly simultaneously:
  • Self organization: who is going to do what -- mostly, a volunteer thing as to who does what, though informed by task, skill, and capability of the team members
  • Convergence: fail quick, fix, and retry til it's working well. You can feel it when the non-value add stuff dissipates and it's all about value-add
  • Local interests: Local interests are both personal and team oriented. Each person tends to maximize their own interests to the extent that they fit in the overall team envelop; and the team optimizes to max out their contribution to the strategic goal
And the PMO? The PMO was there to set the strategic goal; put the resources in place, having recruited the teams; and knock down the issues that were not foreseen. And, lest it not be forgotten: to provide feedback during and after -- both a real-time incentive, and a after-action atta-boy

This stuff actually works! But, did I mention virtual teams? Virtual teams have less bandwidth and so their velocity is correspondingly less. Convergence times are greater, etc. But, the principles apply

Read in the library at Square Peg Consulting about these books I've written
Buy them at any online book retailer!
Read my contribution to the Flashblog