All posts tagged: organisational design

Book Review: Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren

Book Review: Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren

Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren is one of those books that you wonder why it wasn’t written already. It’s a straightforward book in the way it is written, full of easy to grasp concepts, concrete examples and real-life experiences. And while you read it, you really wonder why is HR not working this way already? This work is high on the experience of the author, a People Management consultant that has turned to Agile (and its various practices) to find concrete answers to the needs that HR has. And the book subtitle doesn’t leave anything out from the fact that what is being proposed is a radical approach. Agile is a way of moving forward and creating value. It’s a mentality that allows people and groups to meet challenges, learn quickly, and respond to change. It’s a different and new way of managing teams, individuals, projects, and development. Pia-Maria Thoren Agile People, page 16 Agile above all. The book talks of Agile, from its principle as a discipline up to its more recent developments. And then addresses several typical …

Organise without managers: is it possible at scale?

Organise without managers: is it possible at scale?

Organise without managers. A dream that many seem to nurture. A few months ago, I already wrote a post with what I thought was a thought-provoking title: do we still need managers? The answer I tried to give back then was that we certainly need proper management, but this does not automatically equate to keep the old hierarchy of managers. The debate about organising without managers is not new, is getting more and more inputs. But one of the critical questions has always been, is it possible to scale a manager-less organisation? The issue arises because most of the cases that emerge about companies without managers are often related to small companies or start-ups: Buffer, Morning Star Farms, Valve Software. Can manager-less models scale? Joost Minnaar, from Corporate Rebels, has published a long but fascinating post on the topic, analysing how large organisations can survive (or rather succeed) without multiple layers of middle management. This study is part of his PhD study, so it is still work in progress, but the article is very detailed and well supported with research and information. He has looked …

Herbie Hancock Concert in Milan (Nov 1st. 2019)

Jazz and Leadership: 6 big lessons from Herbie Hancock’s Concert.

Yesterday I attended the Herbie Hancock concert at the Conservatorio of Milan, opening act of the JazzMi Festival. It was a genuinely great experience, to see such a master of jazz play. We had perfect placing (third row). Not more than 10 meters separated us from this real master. But am not here to comment on the (exceptional) music. Instead, as the concert rolled, I could observe a few behaviours that should resonate in an organisational context. Jazz can become a powerful metaphor of (proper) management, particularly in a moment where technologies are causing disruptions, and Digital Maturity is becoming a “must-have”. Jazz and management: a metaphor through time The association of Leadership and Management to music is not new. The metaphor of the Orchestra Director as a true Leader is known. But what is striking about a jass ensemble is that there is nothing like a visible director that stands on a podium and directs the music. So the idea that Jazz can teach Management Lessons diffused itself already some time ago. Grant Ackerman from Columbia Business School wrote an interesting …

Book Review: Scrum 101 by David Lowe, James Wyllie and Jiten Vara

There are moments in which you need a practical handbook to guide you through the tools of a specific topic in an easy to read and accessible format. This is Scrum 101 by David Lowe, James Wyllie and Jiten Vara, a book that we can genuinely define nimble and agile in the way it delivers context and clarification on the Scrum methodology.  Scrum is the fundamental methodology to deliver agile in organisations, yet it is often one of the most misunderstood frameworks.  The book provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about Agile with Scrum. It is based on real questions through the workshops that the authors have facilitated and thus has an efficient focus. Most of the chapters are therefore framed into a question, making this very much resemble a FAQ collection. Although the Scrum framework is well defined, it is flexible so that it can be turned to your individual circumstances. This is part of the Scrum’s beauty. Unfortunately, although Scrum seems simple in theory, putting it into practice is not so easy. Scrum 101, page 126 This book …

Organisation Design for Agile: Start with Governance

As we approach (re) organisation design work to support business transformation, we are often faced with the fact that few organisations address one of the critical components of Org Design: Governance. It’s essential to make decisions on who decides, at all levels of the organisation, to avoid stall and bottlenecks. A truly agile organisation can only be built on a firm decision making backbone. I’ve recently been involved in a large organisational redesign process, and have kept meeting functional leaders who always started the discussion by introducing a new Org Chart for their function. I’ve already discussed the fact that I think Organisational Charts way too often end up being a simplistic representation of an Organisation. What however is way too often missing in these design efforts, are answers to what I think are the key questions to be answered in organisational design: How do we align on priorities? How do we make decisions? How do we communicate decisions? How do we ensure that decisions are followed up? How do we mitigate risk? How do we ensure …

Design your Data Organisation

A key component of Digital Maturity is the capability to exploit data do derive knowledge and support business success through predictive analytics, which is why many organisation are now creating Data Science departments focused on this job. But how can we create a successful Data Science team able to be successful? How do we make sure we’re not just following the latest hype? How can we position these roles within the framework of our organisations? One of the critical aspects that are driving Digital transformation is the availability of data. The quantity of data that is produced every day somehow already passes human capability to understand. But what do you do with this data? This is the crucial question that most organisations are trying to answer. One of the critical aspects that are driving Digital transformation is the availability of data. The quantity of data that is produced every day somehow already passes human capability to understand. But what do you do with this data? This is the crucial question that most organisations are trying to answer. Data Science, …

Build your Skills: Listening

Listening is one of the most critical skills in a work environment. Yet, not much effort is given to learning how to listen. In most cases, there’s simply a “discipline” approach, taught at school, by which people often learn how to fake attention, rather than listen to what other people say. I don’t want to spend too much time on how to build this skill in generic terms. There’s abundant literature online full of practical tips and tricks worth looking at. I’m more interested in the development of this capability in the framework of an Organisation, up to the level of developing an overall listening strategy. Listening becomes a critical element of designing an organisation “for the whole self“, as a newly identified trend suggests. The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. Rachel Naomi Remen, Culture of Empathy Individual Listening When we think at the personal level, Listening is composed of multiple “habits”, heavily influenced by different traits of personality. Sometimes …