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Agilist's Stream of Consciousness Posts

Delegation Board – The True Story

So you’d like to increase self-organization and autonomy in your team, but have no idea where to start? Thanks to Jurgen Appelo’s tool called Delegation Board you can do it even today. If you’re curious how it has worked for me and my colleagues, what we’ve learned and how we’ve modified it, read on.

It’s no news that in order to enable the emergence of self-organization you need certain conditions (more and more). One of them is setting a boundary. In case of teams those boundaries may take various forms:

  • physical (room, office etc.)
  • attractor (leadership)
  • policy (rules)

In this article I’d like to focus on the last one – setting the policies right.

Is setting boundaries important?

First, let’s think for a while, what would happen if not all policies were defined or communicated. There are two ways one could go:

  1. Assume that nothing is under the person’s control and thus stay passive or go to the decision maker (usually someone above the person in the hierarchy) whenever the decision is to be made.
  2. Assume that everything is under the person’s control and thus often cross the invisible barrier and generate misunderstanding and tension.

Personally I prefer the second way, because “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission,” as Grace Hopper once said.

What would happen if boundaries were clearly defined? By defining an area of freedom you get rid of the problems above, or at least you greatly minimize the risk of their occurrence. You can always break the rules and then beg for forgiveness, but most importantly you eliminate the risk of decision paralysis. Clear policies empower people (assuming that there’s anything left for them to decide) and improve self-organization. Continue reading Delegation Board – The True Story

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