How to develop an agile team

Cooplexity Model

An agile organisation tries to incorporate the agile methodology into its culture, uses specific technology and is based on agile teams. It is easy to intuit that the key to success lies in the team and especially in its capacity for self-coordination. Agile teams collectively assume full responsibility for the success of their results in customers and users. They are multifunctional and work collaboratively. They feel cohesive and takes commitments defining the characteristics of the product to be delivered. Therefore, getting self-coordinated teams will be critical in the process, with everything implies. But how to develop a team to have self-coordination and a high level of commitment?

Self-coordination

The bad news is that it is not easy, the good news is that it is possible. You will need to approach the challenge at three levels. At the individual level of attitudes and aptitudes. At the group level with commitment and alignment. At the organisational level the cultural change.
The key factors to facilitate cultural integration and change, to break silos and improve inter and intra-team coordination as well as to align objectives and focus the organisation on customers will be:

  1. The Objective: Innovation & Efficiency. Success in a changeable world means adaptation by innovating doing new things or being more efficient doing the same things with fewer resources.
  2. The Key: Communication & Interrelations. Communication is understood as an interactive process of building new realities. Knowledge is obtained through self-experience and interaction.
  3. The Energy: Entrepreneurship & Proactivity. In uncertainty, it is riskier to stay still than to move in the wrong direction. Proactivity, initiative and experimentation will keep us in movement adapting ourselves.
  4. The Magnet: Teamwork & Commitment. The whole process of alignment of business objectives achieves results by staying involved and focused on strategic priorities.
  5. The Method: Distributed Leadership & Coordination. Distributed Leadership is necessary to create the right conditions for the emergence of decentralised and spontaneous self-coordination.
  6. The Framework: Complexity & Uncertainty. Today’s interconnected, global society has increased task interdependencies and as a consequence raised the issue of managing complexity to the top of executive concerns.

Traditionally, decision-making and management are founded on order, stability and certainty. Managers are often not trained or accustomed to coping with unpredictable events and conditions. The anxiety and bewilderment that comes with conditions of uncertainty and complexity are confusing and inhibiting. Having a reference framework for inducing changes in these situations is especially valuable in times of changes.
The Cooplexity model facilitates the implementation of an agile and collaborative culture through six steps that work at individual, group and organisational levels. These scopes are not something we can unbind from each other. The three starts at the same point and the three are interlocked. Some policies are not independent of others; all should have consistency among themselves in a global manner.

Individual level

When gathering information, if there are no possible references, this process is undertaken through exploration and learning.
In uncertainty, it is riskier to stay still than to move in the wrong direction. Proactivity, initiative and experimentation will keep us in movement, investigating, advancing and adapting ourselves. Stability is reached using trial and error actions that permanently try to find an adequate internal configuration to the environment where one is.

Team level

When individuals, groups and structures interact, long-term commitment is built around an attractor that unites ideas and enthusiasm.
Cohesion is by far the most critical factor of teamwork. Considered as a crucial variable by the majority of researches, it is a requirement so that the full collaboration can be achieved.

Organisational level

Empowering collaborators to make decisions through established mechanisms is necessary for the emergence of decentralised and spontaneous self-coordination.
Self-coordination is the real architect of effectiveness. The promotion of self-coordination, or rather, the stimulus for its emergence, change the traditional approach to management. It turns from actions and decisions focused on the group to actions and decisions focused on the context of the group. Creating adequate conditions to facilitate the emergence of self-coordination instead of forcing predefined actions is fundamental to the model.

Conclusion

The collaboration culture necessary to boost an agile organisation affects the three levels of the model and implies Tolerance of Error for individuals, aligning goals around a Common Project for teams and a Decentralised Structure at the organisational level.
In the end, the objective is to empower skilled and motivated collaborators to make decisions following the strategy. It means the emergence of full spontaneous collaboration.
From talent to leadership, from proactivity to entrepreneurial decisions and from collaboration to innovation, the answer to a VUCA world is teams.

Reference

  • Zamora Enciso, R. (2018). Cooplexity: A model of collaboration in complexity for management in times of uncertainty and change (Third edit). Barcelona: Lulu.com. (Amazon)

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