The team size.
Regardless of project content and objectives, there are group dynamics that define the size of a team. Teams that are too large are difficult to organise, if only in terms of coordinating deadlines. They also tend to fragment into sub-teams with informal sub-project managers.
Teams that are too small, on the other hand, not only have too little capacity, they also lack the diversity of opinions needed to generate creative solutions. A team should therefore consist of at least five and a maximum of ten people.
Everyone knows it – no boss in the team.
I have asked the following question at all hierarchical levels, from the project team level to the Group Executive Board: “Who is absolutely necessary in the team so that you can be sure that this team will not work?” The answer always comes within a few seconds: A boss!
Let that melt in your mouth: An answer as if shot from a gun, accompanied by cheerful laughter, especially from the bosses present. I maintain that everyone in the world knows that a boss in a team prevents a team from taking full responsibility.
If the project is not going well, who does management turn to first? Which role do they try to strengthen to save a project? Who is replaced when it is recognised that radical action is needed to correct the project?
And what characterises a particularly good project manager? That they take responsibility for their project. That they identify 100% with their project. That they are committed and fully dedicated to the project goal. And what happens in terms of group dynamics when someone with this ideal description takes responsibility for their project in a group of people?
Meetings with the boss are different.
You know the situation: The team is sitting in the meeting room, no boss is present. Everyone is focussed and committed to finding a solution. Everyone is involved, talking with their hands and feet. Solutions are drawn on flipcharts, everyone is keen to add to their colleague’s idea. A highly dynamic flow.
Suddenly the door opens and the boss comes in. It’s a good boss, he doesn’t want to interrupt – he just wants to listen, to show attention. So he approaches the table very politely, almost quietly, and sits down on a free chair next to one of the team members. He smiles and nods encouragingly because he senses that the discussion is going well.
What happens to the highly dynamic, extremely creative and constructive discussion about finding a solution? “Er, maybe we should give the boss a brief summary?” Or: “Yes, we were just about to take a break anyway.” Or the discussion continues in a somewhat playful manner while the real energy level has slipped below 50%. Why? Because someone came into the room with responsibility invisibly tattooed on their forehead. And that is the phenomenon of responsibility.
The delicate balance of responsibility.
As soon as one person in a group has a little more of it, it falls away from the others. Responsibility is highly sensitive, invisible, it can build up and diminish at the speed of light. In certain constellations, it will not exceed a certain level.
AGILE aims to raise the responsibility of each individual team member to a higher level. This is precisely the fundamentally new approach, the reason for the sensational successes that we have been able to achieve with this method in many industrial companies.
Each individual team member takes on more responsibility.
The team must be freed from any kind of leadership, including informal leaders. But you know what happens: if a project manager leaves the team, there is often room for an informal team leader. They are happy to take on the new role because they see career opportunities and are more committed to it. This is welcomed by management.
The team members are also often quite open to this. Teams that have been used to being led for many years tend to fall into a kind of helplessness at the beginning and ask for a decision. Sometimes a junior, informal team leader is virtually forced into this role by the team.
The AGILECOACH should prevent both of these situations. The aim is to increase each individual team member’s acceptance of responsibility.