Part of a series intended to briefly explain how to apply different agile practices to the work of social innovators, today’s topic is Using Self-Organizing Teams instead of Groups:

In a traditional work setting, there is a manager who oversees a group of people with specific role definitions. There is a one way reporting relationship. If you can imagine a pyramid-shaped org. chart, you’ve got the basics.

Agile works on the principle of self-organizing teams.  In an agile work setting, the members of the team organize the work tasks among themselves.  They volunteer for tasks and hold each other accountable for completing the work. The manager, who is not necessarily on the team, is responsible for giving the team the support they need to do the work. The trust invested in the team has a huge payoff for the individual team members and the organization in terms of productivity and satisfaction.

There are two primary reasons I believe social innovators would be attracted towards self-organizing teams: efficient use of people resources and creating a culture of empowerment.  It is more efficient to have a team of equals who have a unified vision and who produce valuable results for their stakeholders instead of a group of individuals with a singular view defined by their job description that produce results for their manager.  An organization with a culture of empowerment draws on the capacities, experiences, and motivations of impassioned individuals and gives them the tools required to produce valuable results and change the world for the better.

I wrote about my experiences applying this approach to the work of a volunteer-driven charity in the article Agile Approach to Volunteer Management

Would you like help becoming more agile?

If you would like help building Self-Organizing Teams in your organization, or adopting any other agile practice, please post a comment on the blog. I am certified to provide OpenAgile training, coaching, and consulting, and I would be happy to aid your enterprise to realize the full benefits of being agile.