The Buddy System – A way to build a flexible Learning Organization – Case Study

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Photo cred Ada Beat

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.

The guiding principles of Ada Beat

Happy with work is more important than making money
At Ada Beat we believe that you should enjoy your assignment and your satisfaction with your tasks are important.

You are not in Ada Beat, you are Ada Beat
At Ada Beat we believe in meritocracy, i.e. the people with the most knowledge take the decisions, not the management. We take ownership and care about each other.

Try things and learn from your mistakes
At Ada Beat we want everyone to dare to make their ideas into reality. We want to create a process to be able to facilitate every new idea. The aim is to encourage everyone to try out ideas in a safe environment.

The Ada Beat story

CEO Magnus Sedlacek – We at Ada Beat are a tech company that provides senior consultants within the tech industry.

We have since inception been a fluid organization without a fixed hierarchy and without managers. For decision-making, we make small decisions or experiments and try the concept first instead of committing to something big. In this way, we can make decisions fast, or faster than the competition, which we believe is vital to becoming a sustainable organization. And when we need to commit to something bigger, we intentionally use hierarchies based on competence instead of highest-paid person hierarchies—no more HIPPO decisions.

This all sounds fine and dandy, right 😉

However, this type of organization and decision-making comes with several challenges: How do you introduce new people to the company?; How do you spread information and knowledge?; How do you spot if someone needs help or assistance, especially when everyone is on an assignment?; Where do you turn with questions or when you need support or help?

This is why we contacted Björn Sandberg at Dandy People, knowing his broad experience from different organizations . We needed an organized way to connect people in the company without a fixed hierarchy. To some extent from experience since before, we thought that a buddy system would suit the needs.

After an initial discussion with Björn around our needs and goal with the buddy system, we decided to go for a one-day workshop.

After the workshop, we now have a foundation for our buddy system.  All of us understand the theories behind it and how to give and receive feedback.  Now we will continue to work internally with the buddies and, from time to time, take in Björn and Dandy People for help and feedback to continue the journey and learning.

The feedback after the workshop with Björn from all participants is very positive. Björn struck all as a humble and knowledgeable person that genuinely cares and listens. We are, as you can understand, happy with the workshop and the outcome.

Ada Beat
Ada Beat is a tech company that provides senior consultants within software development and leadership for software development in roles such as developers, testers, project managers, product owners, team leaders, and scrum masters.

We work with customers who are at the forefront of both technology and working methods.

We are part of our customers’ journey to implement the next-generation mobile network-5G, develop new versions of popular game titles, make payment smooth, enhance the TV experience, and develop applications to ensure the transition to a fossil-free society.

A Buddy System – The Missing Link towards a Learning organization

A Buddy System is a way to use the strength from the formal and informal structures that already exist, and link them together. This helps us to increase the resilience, learning, and capability to handle unforeseen events and act fast. Because what is waiting around the corner isn’t’ waiting for us!

Most organizations today are set up in traditional hierarchies and are struggling to combine those with the informal networks between people that exist inside the organization. In many cases, those networks are actually what make the organization function at all. 

So, what would happen if we combine the formal structure and the informal? In other words create a hybrid structure, that has sufficient stability and at the same time the flexibility of the informal network?  

This can be done by creating a Buddy System which is a cross-organizational network designed to increase the quality of communication, learning, and innovation. It’s a structured way to connect the formal organization and the informal pathways of communication into a network of networks, with the sole purpose to build a learning organization. 

The missing link. Buddy System is a hybrid structure that helps to combine the strengths of the formal and informal structures. 

In the long run, it will increase and speed up conscious communication, learning, and innovation. And by doing so, you create a durable and flexible structure that can be used in many ways. For instance; cross-organizational learning, innovation, problem-solving, business intelligence, and individual development, to name a few.

Read all about how the Buddy System works and how to start your own in our blogpost on the topic >

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