HOW TO REORGANIZE BIGGER TEAMS INTO SMALLER ONES?
So you are a leader and your organization decides to reorganize – change direction, start new initiative or even restructure as a whole. This decision will impact your teams and you. What should you do?
Scrum does not give direct answers how to handle such situations. Some deeper understanding of Scrum values helps a lot.
One of values is respect – which means people are smart and capable to understand and solve complex problems. So your teams do understand situations which involve them.
Another value is openness – which means taking and giving help, being heard and admitting made mistakes. So your teams do have the right to ask, challenge and try to understand what is happening to them.
By providing expectations, showing consequences and setting boundaries you will help your teams embrace the change and figure out matching option. Changes bring risk so remember to put some safety features in place.
SAFETY FEATURE 1 – REASONING – WHY?
The reason behind a change has to be clear and explained. Why the change is going to happen, what are the reasons, why we are in such situation, what option we have, why we decided to go such direction. Remember it’s you who have usually much more details than others.
SAFETY FEATURE 2 – WHO IS IMPACTED? WHO IS NOT?
Determining the scope of change is crucial part. People in leadership positions are vulnerable to assuming team structures as minor difficulties – easy to solve and move quickly forward to business. This might lead to skipping details – who will be impacted by changes and how. Sometimes it’s even more important to explain which parts of organisation remain stable. Answering those questions may help you find even more questions and prepare better to incoming change.
SAFETY FEATURE 3 – HOW TO MAKE DECISION?
You have variety of options to make decision. You can make authoritarian decision or you can fully delegate it. As you can see, between those two extremes there is a lot of space. ‘I invite you to help, I decide’ – sounds reasonable for beginning.
Modification of team structures is usually stressful for a team. Explaining who and how will make decision is very important to simplify communication and reduce stress.
What rules and restrictions new structure has to fulfill to be a valid one? It might be budget restrictions, number of people/ teams, experience or skills needed, but it also might be not to disturb some businesses.
PLANNING IS EVERYTHING
Think about results you want to achieve and figure out plan for change. Define steps to make. Think about needed data, stakeholders decisions, timeframes, iterations and restrictions. Write them down, create timeline, check if plan is feasible. But be concise – the change, not the plan itself, is important here!
Find good enough solution which fulfills specified boundaries. You need to have something to start with.
TIMEBOX F*CKING EVERYTHING
Timeboxing do make sense and you know it. So, provide some but not too much time. Too much time increases stress, favor gossips and generally causes the waste. Forecasting future is very hard. Think about minimising negative impact of following changes rather than finding totally new solution.
COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT – MY FAVOURITE RETROSPECTION ITEM:)
Make sure same message is brought to all people interested in change. Use channels which work for you – email mostly does not! Communicate, repeat, explain, ask for questions and if you do not have answer – do not fake it. It’s fair to say I do not know. But find answer and provide it back soon. People appreciate honesty, even when they might not like the truth.
CALL FOR HELP
Ask your teams for support. Collect their preferences, options and feedback. Invite all to work on solution or call temporary team to work on change.
CREATE OPTIONS AND PICK SOLUTION PROPOSAL
Share your solution proposal or ask teams to prepare a set of new options. Validate outputs with provided boundaries. Reiterate if needed and adjust. Maybe some boundaries are stretched? Collect feedback, pros and cons. Try to challenge options. And then pick the most matching one e.q. by dot voting.
There is nothing like “the best way” to handle the change. The steps described above come straight from my experience. I’ve seen those in actions couple of times. Teams appreciate the ability to take part in decision making and usually have better understanding of important details and final impact of change.
I believe key success factors here are:
- defined goals,
- clear next steps,
- boundaries to fulfill,
- open invitation to collaboration,
And remember your role is to manage the environment not people.