My recommendation: 09/10
Summary of notes and ideas
Tasks: Co-create goals; Facilitate ownership; Learn faster; Design healthy habits
The eight toolkit tools are as follows: Key Value Indicator (KVI). The KVI is for the teams and is the most important indication that they deliver value; Impact Ladder. The Impact Ladder is used for brainstorming and visualizing the customer impact. This supports teams in continuously improving products and services to increase the benefit for the users; Ownership Model. The Ownership Model visualizes what teams need to take ownership; Freedom Matrix. The Freedom Matrix visualizes the freedoms and responsibilities of the team; Time to Learn (T2L). T2L measures the speed of learning. It is a calculation of the time it takes from when it is built until the team learns from actual usage by customers; Validated Learning Board (VLB). A VLB is used to visualize the learning flow of the team; Habit Matrix. The Habit Matrix supports culture change and the designing of new habits; TO-GRIP. This tool supports the agile leader in making
big changes and improvements in the environment. The four skills are as follows: Co-create. The ability to co-create the vision and the direction in which to go. Together with the agile teams, the leader creates the focus on delivering value for the customers and company; Facilitate. The ability to facilitate ownership not by enforcing it but by facilitating the process of continuously improving ownership.; Experiment. The ability to create a safe environment in which teams run experiments. This is not an environment in which teams are blamed for their mistakes but one in which the leader mentors the teams so they continuously learn from customers and improve.; Lead the culture. The ability to create a healthy culture and lead people not by telling them what to do but by leading the culture.
Measurable goals that are based on what they have to achieve tend to be stable when the market changes. To put it in other words, agile leaders create an environment in which goals are clear, inspiring, and measurable on what has to be achieved ; this gives a stable direction even though the solution is uncharted and yet unknown. The goals are also stable when new technologies emerge and new possibilities have to be embraced.
Measurable goals that are based on what they have to achieve tend to be stable when the market changes. To put it in other words, agile leaders create an environment in which goals are clear, inspiring, and measurable on what has to be achieved ; this gives a stable direction even though the solution is uncharted and yet unknown. The goals are also stable when new technologies emerge and new possibilities have to be embraced. Agile leaders create an environment in which goals are clear, inspiring, and measurable on what has to be achieved; this gives a stable direction even though the solution is uncharted and yet unknown.
Stop looking at internal KPIs and start looking at the customers. Teams can measure their success by how much impact they have delivered to their customers. When they know that they have made their users more successful or satisfied, they know they are successful themselves. Next, they can use this insight to improve; they can brainstorm and run experiments on how to improve in the next period (more on this topic in Part 3, “Learn Faster”). It’s crucial that the environment in which they work supports focusing on the customer and not on the internal output. A practical tool to change the environment is using a new type of metric. This metric expresses the relation between what the teams deliver, how this benefits the customer, and how that brings value to the company. This is why they need an indicator on the delivered value.
Dream. They have a passion, an inspiring vision. They can explain their vision in such a way that it becomes very tangible and relatable. This gives the teams the trust and the energy to go for it. Customer focus. This dream is not internal to the company but oriented toward the customer. The focus is on what teams can mean to customers and how they can have a positive impact. Vulnerability. Agile leaders show courage by being vulnerable to large groups. They indicate that they can’t do it themselves and that they do not have all the answers. They are imperfect, and they make mistakes. But they act not out of uncertainty, but out of authenticity. Exploration. They do not present a detailed plan, but a voyage of discovery and exploration. They outline in their own words that it is too complex and unpredictable to know what exactly is needed to be successful. They can’t give any guarantees about what exactly is going to happen or how it will look in detail. The call is to help each other and not to go for self-interest or short-term solutions They are honest about the effort and the pain it will cost in the coming period. It will not be an easy path, and setbacks are part of it.
An employee or team that produces more has a higher performance than others. But agile teams are different. Delivering more functionality in the app or handling more phone calls doesn’t necessarily make them more productive. Therefore, they need a different set of goals to measure their performance and give them direction. These new goals make it tangible and concrete what “winning the game” means. These goals, therefore, indicate when teams are really successful.
Co-creating the goal with the teams serves the agile leader in three ways. First, the goal will probably be better because more people put thought into it. Second, the teams will know the “why” behind the goal, and if the goal needs to be changed or improved, the teams will come up with proposals and ideas. Last but not least, the teams will likely be more inspired to work on a goal they co-created than on a goal that is bestowed upon them.
Knowing whether the teams have an inspiring goal, the following five Is can be used to gather feedback. Influence. Do the teams feel that they can influence the metric
Ownership ensures that they think outside the box to come up with innovative solutions that really help customers. In case of unexpected problems, difficult challenges, or when things go wrong, ownership ensures that teams feel responsible to solve this. They don’t have to wait for others to come up with solutions. When they feel ownership, they don’t blame others for their challenges. Even when it gets tough, these teams continue to look for solutions and find opportunities. This is crucial because in complex environments, solutions can only be found by exploring and experimenting, learning from failures, and continuously growing as a team. Ownership gives them momentum to overcome unexpected challenges and obstacles.
How do Teams Deal With Ownership? How can an agile leader get his teams to take ownership of their work? They can’t be forced into it; they must voluntarily take it on. The agile leader can only create an inspiring environment and encourage ownership, giving teams exactly enough freedom to suit their own maturity—no more, no less.
How does a leader recognize situations in which he has to let go and other situations in which he should intervene and take action? Agile leaders struggle with this because every team is different, and teams are also constantly changing and growing. Striking the right balance means answering the following five questions: When is intervening the best strategy, and when is letting go better? How mature is my team? How do typical teams grow? How can the borders be aligned with the maturity? When does the ownership model work and when does it not?
Successful agile leaders ask their teams what they need in order to take ownership voluntarily. Vulnerable and passionate, they share their motivation regarding why they want their teams to take ownership—not for the ego or the power but because they know how crucial ownership is in this complex world.
Successful agile leaders ask their teams what they need in order to take ownership voluntarily. Vulnerable and passionate, they share their motivation regarding why they want their teams to take ownership—not for the ego or the power but because they know how crucial ownership is in this complex world
Skills the leader can develop to improve the craft of facilitating are as follows: Powerful questions. Powerful questions increase creativity, promote honesty and transparency, stimulate out-of-the-box thinking, and focus on the outcome. By asking powerful questions, the teams are invited to take action, discover solutions, and make things clear and explicit.
Examples of powerful questions are: What are the possibilities? What seems to confuse you? What are other angles you can think of? If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?
Self-reflection. The behavior of the teams is a mirror of the environment agile leaders create. Nobody comes to his work thinking, “Today I want to be demotivated, criticize others, and distrust my boss.” When people don’t have that spark in their eye called ownership, it’s not because they want it to be that way. It’s because we agile leaders haven’t yet improved the environment enough.
Team process. Good teams reflect, modify, and amplify each other’s ideas into even better ideas, seeking synergies to produce a better result. Together they are smarter than the team members are individually. Building these awesome teams is a difficult skill to master. The model I often use is the model of the five dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni.
Growth of craftsmanship among team members. People in successful agile teams are multiskilled, which means they master different areas of expertise. They need an environment that not only promotes knowledge transfer and skill development but also inspires them to become true craftsmen at several areas of expertise.
Whether or not it’s wise to intervene depends on the maturity of the team. A highly mature team can independently organize their work and achieve great results, but a team just starting still needs a lot of help, guidance, and support.
On the other hand, it also does not work if a newly formed team still figuring out how to collaborate (a starting team) gets too much freedom from the manager. The team feels lost; they do not know exactly what they have to do, and they can’t assess the risks themselves. The team itself cannot come up with solutions on their own because they lack sufficient knowledge. This, too, results in good people leaving.
Based purely on signals of passivity, low quality, employees who leave, and lack of improvement, the agile leader can’t know whether intervention or letting go is best; he must first know the maturity of the team to know how much freedom they need in order to take ownership. But the big question is: how do you know the maturity of the team? Can the team members decide that for themselves? How can the manager know for certain? Experience has shown that the answer can only be found by talking about it together.
Tool 3: Ownership Model: The Ownership Model visualizes the relationship between the freedom and the maturity of the team. It consists of two axes, two bad zones, a good zone, and a staircase. Only when the freedom and maturity of the teams are in balance can the teams take ownership.
The two bad zones occur when freedom and maturity are not in balance. Too much freedom: Chaos. If the team is given more freedom than matches their maturity, they won’t take ownership. They feel lost, and with too many opportunities and uncertainties, they lack the perspective to make effective choices.
Too little freedom: Captive. If the team is given less freedom than matches their maturity, they will feel captive or imprisoned by their environment. They lack the room for initiative; they will just follow orders, and they will be unable to grow as a team and develop their own working methods.
Ownership isn’t dependent on maturity. In fact, ownership can still take place even when team maturity is low if the team has the appropriate level of freedom; all they need is just a little more freedom than their current maturity.
The purpose of knowing the maturity level of a team isn’t to compare or judge the teams. Maturity does not describe whether one team is better than another. Rather, it is a snapshot in time to help everyone understand what can be expected from a given team. Again, the purpose of knowing the maturity level is to align the freedom and autonomy of the team accordingly to drive ownership.
Together with the teams, the agile leader defines what each team must achieve to reach the next stage; if the achievements are not measurable, differences in interpretation will cause ownership to disappear.
Successful agile leaders adjust their own behavior to match the stage of maturity of their team
A single, concrete, shared goal helps the team come together to achieve the shared goal. In short, it helps them achieve ownership. As they continue to grow, they need lower and wider boundaries from their leader.
Teams Need a Single Concrete, Shared Goal. A team can only self-organize if it is clear what they have to achieve. Without a concrete and shared goal, team members will perform their own work; the team ceases to function as a team.
To create a culture of open feedback, trust, and learning, effective agile leaders have to set the right example. They need to make themselves open to feedback, even critical feedback.
They talk about their own mistakes in a vulnerable and often humorous manner, and by doing so they make it safe for the rest of the team to do the same. This is the start of the kind of culture that allows ownership to flourish.
Coach the team to go through each step of the learning loop. Do not skip steps or take steps too quickly because of time pressure. Ensure that the team is not working harder just to achieve their short-term results, but rather obtains feedback from users. Inspire the team to have an open mind for this feedback. Don’t stick to assumptions, suspicions, and opinions. Rather, ask questions and be open to refreshing ideas from customers. Explain why structurally reporting on user satisfaction and usage is so important. When the users are highly satisfied, give the team all the appreciation and gratitude. They are very mature and need a lot of freedom to be motivated (see Part 2, “Facilitate Ownership”). If user satisfaction is low, first pose a lot of open questions to the team, helping, guiding, and—if necessary—making adjustments to increase user satisfaction.
Brainstorm with the teams on the impediments for next steps to a smooth and faster learning loop. Remove these obstacles or give the team a mandate to remove them by themselves. Often, obstacles reside in part with other employees or departments. That is why it is important to look for cooperation and to make decisions together with fellow managers.