Continue reading: Bootstrapping a Working Agreement for the Agile Team

Bootstrapping a Working Agreement for the Agile Team

I suspect that running a session with a team to help them bootstrap a Working Agreement, is the single most common workshop I’ve been facilitating the last couple of years. And I’ve learned a lot of what works for me (and what doesn’t work). In my experience, this approach works equally well for the agile team, the department management group and the steering board team. This blog is me documenting how I ended up facilitating these sessions.

For me, a Working Agreement captures the expectations we have on each other within the team when we collaborate and communicate. I’ve seen teams call it “Code of Conduct” or “Ways of Working”. I call it Working Agreement. You call it whatever makes sense for you.

Running a Working Agreement workshop as early as possible is crucial for setting the team up for success. Preferably it’s done during the team’s two-day kick-off offsite, or at least within the first few weeks as a planned structured workshop.

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Continue reading: Q & A with Bonnitta Roy on Open Participation

Q & A with Bonnitta Roy on Open Participation

Bonnitta Roy was one of the keynote speakers at last year’s Agile People Sweden conference and she also held a course here at Crisp last February on self-organization beyond the team using Open Participatory Organizations (OPO), which was very well received by our course attendants. She is coming back to Stockholm in November and we got the opportunity to sit down with her and ask some questions about open participation and her work on the future of organizational life.

What is open participation and why does it matter in organizational life today?

Organizations face continuous pressure to “level up” to new social and economic realities. This places enormous strain on legacy structures which are difficult to overhaul, and conventional management practices which are difficult to shed. Instead of offering yet another “off-the-shelf” product, we help people see simple but powerful opportunities to become more open and more participatory in their everyday ordinary work.

In agile software development there is the notion of refactoring when code has become too unruly and is increasingly built up in an ad hoc manner. Refactoring means starting over with clean, elegant code. It releases a tremendous amount of complexity from the system. Open participatory practices do the same for organizational structures. It releases complexity and affords more elegant ways to solve complex problems.

So OPO is basically a location based structure to self-organize and to self-manage in organizations?

Self-organization and self-management are core principles of open participation. Location-based-structure is one way to optimize them. It is the only way I know that also avoids the “law of suboptimization” which states that when you optimize the lower system, you suboptimize the higher (and vice-versa). This “law” leads to paradoxes in incentive systems that have to juggle rewarding individual merit, team performance, and company profits.

Locations are defined as mutually interdependent. No individual location can be defined outside of its context with larger strategic wholes; but the “whole” is not defined other than by the interdependent coherence of all the locations. The language of “location” helps reinforce the synergistic way of thinking. If you renovate your kitchen you are simultaneously adding value to your house, and to the experience of everyone who lives there. Similarly, in the OPO, people focus on making sure that the locations are healthy, and that the relationships between them are synergistic. This simultaneously adds value to the larger whole.

Let’s ask some frequently asked questions, as most readers may be new to these ideas.

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Continue reading: Meet Enspiral, Crisp’ long-lost cousin

Meet Enspiral, Crisp’ long-lost cousin

Meet Enspiral, with the inspiring purpose of “More people working on stuff that matters”. This autumn I finally got to meet Joshua Vial from Enspiral when he and his colleague Susan Basterfield visited Stockholm for keynoting at the Agile People Sweden Conference.  This was the first time Joshua visited us but Susan, I had already had the privilege to get to know last year when we hosted a workshop at Crisp on the Enspiral European tour.

Joshua Vial and Susan Basterfield from Enspiral

After the conference, I had a chance to sit down with Joshua and Susan to chat about Enspiral, social entrepreneurship, doing things that matters and the future of work. As we sat down and chatted and realized that we are a tribe of changemakers separated at birth, or at very least sharing latent strands of DNA. How else can you explain the exquisite similarities of two entrepreneurial collectives from the polar opposites of the planet? Crisp and Enspiral are like long-lost cousins. We are both two companies with a belief that there are better ways of organizing and leading work than the traditional way.

These new ways are based on principles of self-management, agility, openness, and participation. We believe organizations like this are more rewarding and purposeful for the people working in them. This will lead to that people’s potential are freed up to do more good and impactful things in the world.

 

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