Network organization in a nutshell

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Important

  1. Build multi-functional team.
  2. Pick up the problem/challenge/value.
  3. Define whom it’s important for.
  4. Define dependencies.
  5. Define success/failure criteria.
  6. Slice it.
  7. Prepare.
  8. Make.
  9. Give it to the world.
  10. Retrieve & analyze feedback.
  11. Keep #6, #7, #8, #9, #10 – cycle short.

Depends (not important)

  • Process you use – less is more. underestimated cost of spreading heavyweight process accross users.
  • Tools you use – bottom up standardization normally works much better. but would be interesting to make an investigation how/if tools standardization really helps.
  • Planning – as lots of work is invested into making a plan, people try to a void changing it to match the reality.
  • Various definition and templates – often do not match real work even before being issued.
  • Roles descriptions – typically defined for people below high level management.

p.s. Tayloristic organisation defines “not important” as highly important

Network structure – it works

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It was a long journey of trying to understand what organisational structure is best for dynamic growth, experiments, agility and change.

Simple conclusion that i came up for myself – it works! And it is the best way to grow up to an organization to a scale of 600 people at least. Reasons behind are simple – it allows you to scale fast naturally and have built-in flexibility in the structure to a constant change. Obviously there are challenges which you have to overcome.

TOP 7 Challenges

  1. Flexible structure is not possible if you want to keep technical foundation monolithic. Devops and Service Oriented Architecture is a must use practices otherwise organization will not be able to adjust to changing business demand fast enough
  2. Easy to fallback to local optimizations and thinking that structure is something permanent
    • POD Leads and Keepers start to maintain status quo rather than to advocate the change as structure must be adjusted according new findings, growing number of people, speed of delivery and many other things that pop up during the journey
    • Extreme sense of ownership can lead to certain local optimizations instead of seeking global improvement
  3. It’s very important to define common artifacts for PODs as soon as possible so everybody knows what to expect and how to work. You can start from something simple first and grow it naturally according the needs
  4. Pod sponsor role is extremely critical in order to achieve alignment and solve challenges outside the scope of the POD or priority conflicts
    • Especially for service pods which are often understaffed and business value is indirect, but high expectations are formed by the community
    • Pod sponsor is an important contributor to network orchestration
  5. Transparency is key, especially regarding speed of delivery and commitments
  6. Behavior and mindset is much more important than experience as new structure depends a lot on readiness to change and constant learning
  7. Change and adoption core group must be full-time activity and include decision makers (often C-level)
    • Plays leading role in network orchestration
    • Solves operational challenges together with leaders

But what you get instead:

  • you know value creation chain of your company and make dependencies visible
  • people are committed and motivated as they are the owners of what they do and decision making is delegated to them
  • problems are transparent to everyone who is looking for information and you can act upon them

Updated document with our experience – POD framework v.03, comparing to previous version you will find:

  • Description of deliverables and artifacts that can be used as a starting point of your journey
  • Better description of roles to handle expectations
  • Description of how roles work should together
  • Challenges that you must prepare for

If you have experience organizing work as a network of autonomous teams, I would love to hear your insights, ideas and experience.

Question on errors and randomness?

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Is it possible to build an organisation which benefits from uncertainty, errors and randomness?

reality

  • How small should be the teams? 
  • What should be minimum process?
  • What is the level of centralisation/decentralisation?
  • How often achieved agreements must be reviewed?
  • What behaviour is needed?
  • What is the ratio between explicit and self-discipline?
  • What is the level of autonomy?
  • Can growth be the target?
  • Should it reflect value delivery?
  • Should org. look different depending on the context?
  • Should unstable be new stable?

Those are curse words for any member in a company. Often companies are designed as if for any non-repetitive task it is exactly known what is going to happen and what is the most efficient way to do that.

How do i manage?

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What manager does? Their main focus is not on people performance and their efficiency, not about rules or KPIs. These are tools that are selected or built with your team. Instead their focus is on value creation, environment and principles. management

Want to share ideas how i manage for some reasons:

  • it might be helpful to others
  • it is extremely curious to me if my point of view is going to be different when i read it later
  • learn from others so comments and feedback are welcome

Environment. Results are very important, but we won’t be successful as a team unless each individual is fulfilled.

Style. “Ask. Understand. Change.” Process is only a tool, understanding your business is essential. Go out and talk to people. Adjust to business demand and make changes fast.

  • Humor (sometimes even rude) is a big part of the game.
  • Direct person. This is my natural behavior. I expect this from my team.

Problem solving. When a challenge is presented, bring along several solutions, one of which does not include spending (more) money. Always try to understand root cause – why, why, why,…

Meetings. Book a meeting only if it can’t be avoided. Prepare, engage invited people, come out with actions.

Professionalism. High internal standards push me to do things in a best way possible. Same is required from team members.

Learning. “Experts” can ruin everything as they are not accepting new information. If you are not changing and learning new things than something is wrong with you.

Change. Processes, tools, structure must always be adjusted to business needs

Winning. My definition of “winning” is that everyone wins: employees, customers, users.