Esther Derby on self organizing teams

29 Aug 2013 | Product Management

I was nodding my head and agreeing with so many points raised by EstherDerby on her Self Organizing Teams session on the 2012 NDCOslo conference.

Esther Derby – What Does Self-Organizing Team Really Mean? from NDC Conferences on Vimeo.

Please find below a few notes from her great presentation. 

Team success:
  • 60% – Design a team
  • 30% – Launch a team
  • 10% – Coach a team

Framing the goal is very important to the team success…

…The art of coming up with the minimum specification for the team goal. Leave some creativity to the team!

We should work against a common dynamic where the manager looks down at the team.

There is a balance when self organizing between management work and technical work… It is always a balance. We should be careful and clear on delegating decisions.

A few balance axis that always take place on teams:
  1.  Learning versus delivery… the ability to learn together is one of the core improvements for a team… Teams do learn to learn together over time.
  2.  My specialization versus our work… what is the shared definition of done? The answer to this question brings balance to the team… as a team you  are developing capability to speed up; you bring everybody up… overtime there is a diffusion of skills and having that redundancy creates flexibility in the team… flexibility leads to speed, to better decisions.
  3. Autonomy versus responsibility… a few things that help balancing this: (1) being clear about the decision boundaries, (2) having a robust feedback loop… when should a manager step in? too soon or too late is not good… there is a balance act for managers to know when to step in.

Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books about Lean Strategy and Delivery). He's also the creator of , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here .
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