When starting up a new organization we can design it based on guiding principles to enable more Agility and a learning organization. We then might want to keep it flat, without unwanted hierarchies, perhaps even without managers. We also want to enable people to collaborate when needed without both chaos and silos, enable decisions to be made where the work is done, and empower everyone to engage in the development of the organization as well as growing the business.
This was the case for the tech company Ada Beat. In the search for a way to do that they decided to use the Buddy System as a structured approach to enable Agility and build a Learning Organization, and they asked me to support them with this. Read more about what a Buddy system is at the end of the post.
Case: Buddy System at a Tech Company
We asked our friends at Ada Beat´ to write a small case study on why they wanted to grow a Buddy System.
Organizations are complex adaptive systems, which means we can not with precision anticipate all possible impacts changing one part of the organization will have on another. And, we cannot anticipate how the organization will evolve in the future and what strategies will emerge. Success, therefore, requires that we make small continuous changes as a natural part of running the business.
Having a clear understanding of how the organization is working from different perspectives is critical when moving from traditional to more Agile structures and ways of working. One way is to look at the organization from different perspectives and they will shed light on what’s holding it back and what can be done to move it forward.
At Dandy People, we have created an organizational analysis model in 9-Dimensions of Organizational Change (TM) that gives a holistic perspective and connects the dots across the organization. This is the best way, we have found so far, to create and sustain a Learning Organization. The model is based on the 6-Boxes Model by Carl Binder.
This is the fourteenth episode of our Agile Leadership & Management Series.
During my years working mainly with team, leadership and organizational development, I have experienced so many organizations lacking skills to both find and use the power that comes out of learning. We just tend to study what we already know, where we already are. But that does not lead us anywhere new. We need to learn from other people and in other areas to move forward.
Continuous learning is one of the keystones to be thriving in whatever environment and/or task you set out for. Learning is at its best when it flows through all levels of the organization, from the individual, to the teams/groups and, all the way out through the different parts of the organization. And many organizations struggle to find ways to set this up to work in a successful way and make it fluent in everyday work. So here are some really great tips and tools to get your learning organization up and running.
Becoming a Learning Organization starts with empowerment, e.g., alignment and autonomy, which creates an environment where game-changing strategies can emerge from people at the operational levels.
So, what are the prerequisites for this to happen?
Check out the graphic below to find the prerequisites to uncover 7 proven strategies for embedding learning into your organization.
Making quick and good enough decisions can many times be difficult. Slow decision-making is one of the biggest problems in many organizations today. Therefore, it might be a good idea to find ways to speed up the decision making process. And, this “Decision-Making Canvas” could be something that helps you in your process.
When working in a fast-paced and complex environment, the trick is to make many smaller decisions based on current facts known at this moment in time. If we wait until we have all the facts, and there are no uncertainties, it will often be either too late – or the first facts will have changed.
Print out this canvas, or use it digitally, and use it as a template for making better and quicker decisions together as a team.
The need for adaptability and innovation have probably never been bigger, and we need to use the force from our employees. We need to connect the people in our organization using new formats, perhaps being forced into some of them. Also, the distancing has affected all of us, some are suffering more than others. The need for us as human beings to maintain and build trustworthy relationships is being put to test now that we have replaced the small talk by the coffee machine with Zoom meetings.
We are perhaps seeing the world through new eyes, and maybe even reevaluate our business as well? Can we continue as we did before and still survive? Or, are there ways to move us forward and actually help us be better? And, can the use of a Buddy System be the help we need to help us do this?
Adapt and Excel – it´s All About the People
To be able to survive in today’s business climate our focus needs to be on our ability to adapt – and to act fast. But that is not enough. Our organizations have to continue to grow and excel to stay alive, and not standstill.
A prerequisite for us to adapt and move fast is to secure that people are responsible for workflows, decisions, actions, and have the authority to make the rapid changes needed. The type of organization that meets these demands best is a learning organization where it is possible to create endurance and the speed needed in a complex (VUCA) world.
In this blog post, I would like to share my overall learnings and 7 key takeaways, from an HR perspective, one of the largest and successful Agile transformations that I have taken part in at the Telecom Company Ericsson. I would love to listen in to your reflections too, so please feel free to share your thoughts, challenges, and experiences in the comments below.
The part of Ericsson where I worked, had a need to improve the quality, drastically shorten the lead time for delivery and increase customer value within the same, or even shrinking, budget. After searching both internally and externally for “best of breed” in terms of product development, we decided to go the Lean & Agile way.
During this period, I was an HR Business Partner for 2 units, each one of them was + 1800 people. This was combined with the role of Lean & Agile HR Driver for the business unit (BU) and People Strategy Driver, which in turn led to the role of HR representative in the BU Lean & Agile change program, basically a project office for the transformation.
We are living in a world with a higher pace of change and complexity than ever before. Our conventional ways of leading and organizing are struggling hard to stay relevant in this new environment. Therefore, there is a need to think differently and structure ourselves differently to meet the needs of today.
We need to be more flexible with short lead times and able to make quick decisions at the right level, where they have the latest and most relevant information. In this leadership poster, we have captured Transformative Leadership which is a type of leadership that enables Agility in the organization.
If you are interested in learning more about the content in this poster or to becoming a Transformational leader in an Agile environment you are welcome to join our online training in Agile Leadership which is based on this poster. Teachers are Mia Kolmodin and Björn Sandberg.
A learning organization is the best way we know to meet these demands and to handle the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) of the world of today and tomorrow.
A way to handle this is by task management and developing the organization to be a true learning organization. Start with the prerequisite for empowerment and gradually start to work with emergent strategies.
The foundation for making this possible is a leadership based on the understanding of motivation.
Theory X and Y Leadership
Agile Leadership is characterized by the understanding that people are more motivated by intrinsic motivation compared to extrinsic motivation. This is also closely related to the X and Y leadership theory by Douglas McGregor.
Theory X – extrinsic motivation – emphasizes the importance of strict monitoring, external rewards, and even punishment. Theory Y – intrinsic motivation – highlights well-being and encourages people to approach tasks without direct supervision.
In the Leadership Shift model below you will find where X-leadership and Y-leadership lives.
A leadership shift is needed
The Leadership shift happens when we shift gear from conventional leadership, which many times has served us well, to transformational leadership, to secure the organizational result in a fast-changing and highly complex world.
The Leadership Shift Model illustrates and maps common leadership styles and the effect they have on the organizational result.
Conflict or friction is natural when we grow and develop who we are. It is often a combination of two or more types of conflicts. Make sure to identify which, and if possible choose collaboration as your solution style. When transforming to an Agile organization with teams and a new type of management processes and governance we often have to handle a lot of conflicts. It is important to understand that conflicts not necessarily is a bad thing, it is a natural part of becoming a high performing team and organization.
To be able to improve and change, conflicts need to be resolved by the people in the conflict and perhaps support to facilitate the process is needed. Often just a reminder that this is a natural part of improving, so let’s move on and find out what we can do to improve together.
This poster was created to support smooth handling of conflicts everywhere in the organization.