I came upon a wonderful post entitled The Illusion of Managing People at Nucleus Insights. You can find it here: http://nucleusinsights.com/blog/?p=224
The focus of the article was away from “managing” and more towards “leading, inspiring, and focusing”.
There were three key points made:
- Nurture the culture, can the controls;
- Paint the big picture, skip the little instructions;
- Always ask, never tell.
They wrapped up the article with the following quote:
One of the core ideas or principles of agile teams is this notion of a self-directed, self-managed, and self-organized team.
In my experience, it’s one of the hardest things to “get right” in your coaching and team evolution efforts.
Often I see two extremes…either:
the teams use the self-organization, self-directed mantra as a means of having no accountability. It’s essentially the “inmates running the asylum” and they can choose to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish under the banner of – “don’t bother us…we’re being agile”.
Or the other extreme is that:
the management team says that they’re empowering their self-directed teams, but when you look at their behavior, they’re doing what they’ve always done…tell folks what to do.
My partner Josh Anderson and I just finished a Meta-Cast on the topic of self-directed teams. One of our listeners asked us to share our thoughts on handling agile team members who simply wanted to be “told what to do”.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. In fact, I’ll bet these folks are bright, capable and work very hard. They’re also probably “good people”. So if there is an issue with this in agile teams, what is it? And why would it be a problem?