We define self-management as the ability of teams to make their own decisions about how to do their work, in what order, and by which method.
Research consistently shows that teams operating in complex environments benefit greatly from the autonomy to self-manage their work. And that makes sense. The nature of complex work (such as product development) is such that teams often encounter unexpected problems, emerging ideas that need to be acted upon quickly, and difficult challenges. If teams are not able to make decisions quickly, and have to ask permission or involve management every time, the whole process grinds to a halt.
If you want to improve in this area, your best strategy is to make clear where your team lacks autonomy and where it would help to have more.
Now that you know what self-management means and how it can benefit your Scrum team, here are quick tips to get you started on improving.
- 1: Pick one aspect of your current work method that is holding you back as a team. Stop doing it for a Sprint. Reflect during the Sprint Retrospective on what improved and what got worse.
- 2: Identify one person or department that you depend on as a team to get your work done each Sprint. Contact them to see how you can do some of the work they normally do for you.
- 3: In the next Sprint, make 1 decision that would normally be taken by someone outside the team. Inform this person afterward.
- 4: Identify one tool or process that your team has to follow, but that would make your team more effective when stopped or removed. Next Sprint, contact two people who have control over this and invite them to work with you to change it for a few Sprints.
- 5: Remove at least one item from your Product Backlog that was suggested by someone outside your team, but that nobody considers valuable. Inform this person afterward.
- 6: During the next non-Scrum meeting, agree to allow everyone to ‘vote with their feet’ (leave) when they feel the meeting doesn’t add value to the team or the product. Don’t ask for clarification and respect each decision.
- 7: Cancel one recurring meeting you have as a team but that you don’t consider valuable enough. After a few weeks, reflect if this was the right call.
These tips will help you spark small and incremental change in your Scrum team.