Bending the hierarchy to ease agile transformation with new roles

Hierarchy often comes in the way of Agile adoption and transformation. By hierarchy I mean not just the reporting structure but also how different functions interact with each other and how do they manage to work together on projects. Taking few lessons out of the book 'Maverick' by Ricardo Semler, I introduced new roles Associates, Co-ordinators and Facilitators in the team which was a pilot for agile transformation in an organisation. The outcome was a team like a football team with a common goal and individuals complementing each other in day to day work. I also made sure that they understand the difference between leadership and management, leadership can come from anyone in the team.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • 5 mins - Difficulty in agile adoption due to roles
  • 5 mins - Excerpts from 'Maverick', how did they remove job titles
  • 10 mins - Case study 
  • 5 mins - Questions

Learning Outcome

To have a mindset that a top down restructuring is not needed to pilot a transformation. It is just in the way we structure the team and handover the responsibilities to the people in the team.

Target Audience

Managers

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

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  • Nitin Ramrakhyani
    By Nitin Ramrakhyani  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Vinod,

     

    I like the topic as well and have read Maverick ( though long long time ago) and had liked it, though I'm also at loss in recalling the exact learnings that can be leveraged, so would help if you can elaborate a bit for everyone's benefit. 

    Also, I'm curious to understand how the roles you mentioned are different from the standard SCRUM roles of Scrum Master( Facilitator?), PO( Coordinator??) and team( Associates?) and some of the key challenges one facesin rolling-out Agile. I think if you could draw a clear distinction w.r.t to SCRUM roles (if that's the intent) then it'll make the context more Agile specific, else it may seem very generic to any org transformation excercise and challenges one faces these.

    Thanks,

    Nitin

    • Vinod Kumaar R
      By Vinod Kumaar R  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Nitin,

      The book 'Maverick' speaks about removing the hierarchical structure and having roles based on the nature of the work and the kind of interactions people do. They had roles like Counsellors, Partners, Associates instead of traditional roles and from the description in the book it removed the hierarchy out when people work with each other.

      In my case, I wanted to avoid the word 'Master' so the scrum master was the facilitator. The team is the associates and representative from the team for first point of contacts were co-ordinators. Product owner was not renamed. The only reason I had used this was to remove the hierarchy perception within the team and promote healthy environments in a complex hierarchical environment.

       

      Regards,

      Vinod

  • Sachin goel
    By Sachin goel  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi

    Curious to know:

    1- As Agile supports Self governing team, would these roles / focus on roles distract it?

    2- how does these role help to solve what you described in the summary "how different functions interact with each other how different functions interact with each other "?

    thanks - Sachin

    • Vinod Kumaar R
      By Vinod Kumaar R  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi,

      1. I found that typically an organization has a matrix structure with multiple reporting lines and people more or less not questioning their bosses. Their bosses define the goals; I found that if the team members report to their team lead then even the healthy design discussions do not take place. People don't feel safe to voice out their opinions. If we remove the perceived hierarchy and form teams communicating them in some form that all of them are at an equal level of responsibility and accountability then that is what I intended to introduce through these roles.

      2. I wanted to avoid the word 'Master' hence used facilitator for the manager of the team. Co-ordinators are the people who will be chosen from the pool of associates in the team to represent them. Their job was to primarily be the external point of contact for the team.

      Regards,
      Vinod

  • Joel Tosi
    By Joel Tosi  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Vinod,

       I like this topic.  The timing feels right on it as well.  One question - your slides link to 'Making Java Code Terse' - is that the right link?

     

    Best,

    Joel

    • Vinod Kumaar R
      By Vinod Kumaar R  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Joel,

      I misunderstood the comments given which said "this or any other slides". I have removed the link.

       

      Regards,

      Vinod

      • Joel Tosi
        By Joel Tosi  ~  4 years ago
        reply Reply

        No worries Vinod.  I haven't read Maverick - could you give me some insight into what you were planning on leveraging for it?


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