Self-Organization: Faith, Trust, and Humility!
I was recently humbled by an incident that took place at our beautiful, little company, “Conscires Agile Practices”. For those who are unaware, we are a group of around 15 people who promote Agile & Scrum as a new way of approaching work. We conduct and promote trainings, webinars, and workshops in Agile & Scrum.
About four months ago, we decided to split our team of 15 individuals into two teams, with each team working exclusively on either one of the two types of classes we offer. Two months later, I decided to become a member of just one of those teams and to detach myself from the work of the other team. The primary reason for this decision was to practice what I preach during coaching and training: be a part of just one team, so that you can be better committed towards your work. Another reason was because I thought it would be best for each team to figure out how they would run the business for itself, rather than being directed by a manager/supervisor and thereby inadvertently creating dependency in the long run.
Let me tell you about an incident that that took place in the team that I had distanced myself from, which tested my faith in self-organization. Under my leadership, we were earlier having consistently full classes at a particular city. However, after I had stepped out of the team, there were only six registrants a few days before a class in that same city. Understandably worried, I had a discussion with a particular team member, without revealing my opinion that the team was not getting its act together and yet hinting that better marketing strategies would have yielded higher enrollment. I must admit that although I thought I believed in the power of self-organization, a part of me was also waiting for validation of my lack of faith in it (How bad is that!).
To make a long story short, the team employed aggressive marketing strategies and concerted efforts in the last five days before the training, which led to a total of 16 registrants! This is yet another case where I am happy to have been in the wrong!
Self-organization truly works; people can indeed work together without being supervised. It leads to the creation of work environments where EVERYONE is in-charge, irrespective of the race, hierarchy, or physical location of the team members.
I am humbled and grateful for the experience that I had and I am so glad that I didn’t call a meeting with the team when I doubted them. FYI, I am no longer sceptical about their abilities; who am I to doubt those people anyway! Thanks Indu, Edith, Jeena, and Vanessa for teaching me an invaluable lesson…one that I thought I already knew! I now know that humility, faith, and trust in others come from letting them be self-organized!