At the October SUGSA meeting Peter Hundermark shared his views on how to lead self-organising teams, along with some honest experiences of his successes and failures and growth in understand as to what self-organisation actually means to how an organisation needs to change as a whole.  The key to success seems to be in understanding organisations.  Peter’s partnership with Dr Sigi Kaltenecker, a seasoned organisational coach, has led him to better understand organisations and organisational change.  Over the years they have partnered to build a model for leading self-organising teams and the organisational change to support them.  Peter touched a little on this model and on the classic examples of what self-organisation is about.

Some key things that stood out to me were:

  • The reminder that any self-organising team needs a facilitator in order to work properly.  This is to help avoid a single leader from surfacing and potentially dominating the team, destroying its self-organisation.
  • Trust is a key factor – on all levels.  Without trust it is hard to enable a self-organising team.
  • Middle Managers need to become change agents focused on maintaining the change to allow self-organisation.  The common scenario is that upper management and/or the development teams becoming deeply involved in trying to adopt the new agile way of working.  Too often middle management isn’t focused on.  However they are key in order to aid and promote the change.  While we often succeed in giving a safe space for the team to fail – we too often don’t give that same safe space for middle managers to fail.  As a result a lot of the transition doesn’t get supported in the middle of the organisation.  In order to succeed with self-organisation – all levels of the organisation need to be supported and be able to fail and learn.

It was great to hear some new insights on self-managing teams – and to be reminded of the ones that we already knew.  It was also interesting to get a taster of the model that is being taught by Sigi and Peter in their course.

We adjourned as usual for drinks and snacks afterwards – yet another SUGSA event enjoyably completed.