Sunday, January 18, 2015

Agile Management 2014 - Some Tips from Jurgen Appelo

I had a pleasure to take part in the second edition of Agile Management 2014 conference organised by Governica and held in Warsaw, 17-18 September 2014, as the Program Board member and a round table facilitator.

The keynote speaker Jurgen Appelo kicked off the event sharing some interesting tips from his book Management 3.0 Workout, which can be downloaded for free from here.

Instead of Jurgen’s bio, let me share his definition of a Creative Networker as he calls himself. As the knowledge economy is fading and the interaction/creative economy gains ground, Creative Networkers are replacing Knowledge Workers.

"I came up with the term creative networker as an alternative to knowledge worker, which is a bit outdated in my opinion. I prefer this new term to emphasize that many people work nowadays in the creative economy [Denning, “Leadership”] and that they collaborate in networks, not in hierarchies. .... A creative networker is a person who creates or grows unique value within a network of people, or someone who creates or grows the network in an original way for others to share their value. Even better, it can be a person who does both!" Source: Management 3.0 Workout. By the way: “Creative networkers choose to boss themselves.”

I have chosen 3 tips from Jurgen’s speech, some more in the drawings and far more in his book.

1. Personal Maps
Getting to know a person is critical to collaboration. Create a personal map of your colleague to narrow the mental gap. Write categories of interest such as home, education, work, hobbies, family, friends, goals, and values, and expand the mind map by adding more information you know about this person. By creating a personal map of a colleague, you make an effort to better understand that person.

2. Delegation Boards
Delegation is not easy. A delegation board helps management to clarify delegation and to foster empowerment for both management and workers.

Why do we need to distribute control? “Complex systems survive and thrive because control is distributed. It is why the Internet cannot be destroyed. It is why terrorist groups form independent, self-organizing units. And it is why organizations require workers to have a high level of control over their own work. A top-down style of management is undesirable because it stifles an organization’s ability to deal with complexity (Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control pag:193).”

The English verb “to manage” comes from the Italian “maneggiare”, meaning to handle and train horses. Managing an organization is like leading a horse. Manage people like you would lead a horse with care, love and patience.

The delegation board is an easy tool people can use to communicate the type of delegation between a manager and a team, or between any two parties. This tool can also help both parties be open and transparent about what they expect from each other.

3. Performance Appraisals / Bonus System
Most organisations use a formal process involving performance appraisals as the main (or sometimes only) way of “evaluating” the performance of employees. The performance appraisal is described as a mandated process in which, for a period of time (often annually), an employee’s work performance, behaviours, and/or traits are rated, judged, and/or described by someone other than the rated employee, and documented records are kept by the organization (Coens and Jenkins, Abolishing Performance Appraisals loc:402).

Personally I used hate the annual/mid year review process (happy that do not need to go through it any more). First, it takes so much time, second, it doesn’t work. Nobody has been able to prove that appraisals will help organizations improve their performance in the long term (Coens and Jenkins, Abolishing Performance Appraisals loc:769).

Fortunately, the innovative/adaptive organisations are getting rid of the performance appraisal overheads as it’s unsustainable in the light of the emerging globalized creative economy. Remote working, contract workers, Agile and Lean methods, and many other trends make it more and more difficult to organize formal performance evaluations between “superiors” and their “subordinates”.
So, what can we use instead? Use a peer feedback as the main performance measurement. Contributions to a shared purpose are best evaluated by peers, not managers.

I like the virtual currency bonus system Jurgen suggesting as traditional ones rarely have a positive effect on people’s performance. You can use credits, points or hugs. Virtual currency, in this case hugs, represents the merits that people can collect over time and then exchange for money.

Everyone gets an equal number of hugs, but you must give away your hugs to others. You can pass your hugs to one person or more people who you think deserve them. Jurgen advises to ask yourself this question: “What did others do that helped us to engage people, improve work, and delight clients? Did someone get us a step closer to achieving our purpose?”

Everyone in the team (it’s easy to introduce this system in teams working together on a daily basis as people know each other well) collects hugs through a month, quarter etc. and then they can be exchanged to money and the bonus gets paid. For example one hug is one dollar.
Note: The first and the most important  thing you do before you introduce the new system is set up a safe-to-fail environment.

More in the drawings. Enjoy!

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