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Agile Leadership Experiments with Alignment and Autonomy for Results

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In our complex Lean/Agile transformation journey at the Ericsson 3G product development unit, we want autonomous individuals and teams, and, alignment of actions in the right direction – how do we find the right balance? Somewhat unexpectedly, a two century old idea turns out to be extremely relevant here. I’ll share a few Agile leadership experiments that we have performed on combining autonomy and alignment, and, the results that we have seen.

Agile Leadership Experiments with Alignment and Autonomy for Results

  1. 1. Agile Leadership: Experiments with Alignment & Autonomy for results Agile HR Sweden Stockholm, November 27, 2013 Erik Schön #agilhrsverigeNovember 27, 2013 | Page 1 (21) @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | @erik_schon, @ericsson erik.schon@ericsson.com
  2. 2. Who am I? From 300 bps modem to 42 Mbps mobile in 30 years! Currently developing people, teams and organizations @ Ericsson @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 2 (21)
  3. 3. Why am I Here? Complex Environment Complicated Product Complex Transformation Sharing an important idea and experiments from large-scale Lean/Agile transformation @ Ericsson @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 3 (21)
  4. 4. An Idea …
  5. 5. Need: Flow Towards Results RESULTS FLOW ACTIONS @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 5 (21) PLANS
  6. 6. Reality: Friction Disrupts Flow OW FRICTION Personal Interests Different Priorities Different Agendas Independent Wills External actors Unpredictable Events Chaotic Environment Chance Limited Independent Knowledge Agents Human Limitation Different Interpretations Imperfect Information Transfer Imperfect Information Lack of data Noise Misunderstandings Emotion & Stress Complexity Friction makes even the simplest tasks difficult @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 6 (21) Stephen Bungay: “The Art of Action” (2011)
  7. 7. FRICTION creates 3 critical GAPS RESULTS Effects Gap Δ what we expect our actions to achieve vs what the actions actually achieve Knowledge Gap Δ what we’d like to know vs what we actually know FRICTION ACTIONS PLANS Alignment Gap Δ what we’d like people to do vs what people actually do Friction prevents us from reaching desired results @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 7 (21) Stephen Bungay: “The Art of Action” (2011)
  8. 8. Avoid: Usual Reactions to the GAPS RESULTS Effects Gap Δ what we expect our actions to achieve vs what the actions actually achieve Knowledge Gap Δ what we’d like to know vs what we actually know FRICTION Provide more detailed control mechanisms ACTIONS Ask for more detailed information PLANS Alignment Gap Δ what we’d like people to do vs what people actually do Provide more detailed instructions Command & Control More delays, less innovation, less motivation @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 8 (21)
  9. 9. Try: Closing the GAPS RESULTS Effects Gap Δ what we expect our actions to achieve vs what the actions actually achieve FRICTION Give people/teams freedom to adjust actions in line with intent ACTIONS Knowledge Gap Δ what we’d like to know vs what we actually know Focus on clearly communicating intent = WHAT & WHY PLANS Allow people/teams Alignment Gap Δ what we’d like people to do to define HOW to do it vs what people actually do and report back Alignment & Autonomy Less delays, more innovation, more motivation @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 9 (21)
  10. 10. Alignment + Autonomy → Results Autonomy Alignment Intent / Direction / Wanted Position What & Why Thoughtful, purposive action in the right direction by all people in the organization to reach the desired results Alignment Autonomy Actions How The more alignment you have around direction, the more autonomy you can grant around actions @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 10 (21) Stephen Bungay: “The Art of Action” (2011)
  11. 11. The Art of Action From Command & Control to Alignment & Autonomy RESULTS Give freedom to adjust HOW in line with intent Communicate clear intent WHAT & WHY FLOW ACTIONS PLANS Give freedom to decide HOW within boundaries @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 11 (21)
  12. 12. Experiments …
  13. 13. Experiment #1: Individual Level Improved Leadership Behaviour RESULTS Give freedom to adjust HOW in line with intent Coaching training, coach networks, Communities of Practices, … ACTIONS FLOW Communicate clear intent WHAT & WHY Interactive seminars on alignment & autonomy PLANS Give freedom to decide HOW within boundaries Defining Agile/Lean line manager role: teaching, coaching, challenging Ericsson Leadership Framework @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 13 (21)
  14. 14. Experiment #2: Team Level Cross-component, cross-discipline, co-located development teams RESULTS Give freedom to adjust HOW in line with intent Team retrospectives every sprint, … ACTIONS FLOW Communicate clear intent WHAT & WHY Continuous evolution of every team to out-learn competition PLANS Give freedom to decide HOW within boundaries Learning Days, Communities of Practices, Team Development Framework, … Start with Scrum or Kanban @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 14 (21)
  15. 15. Experiment #3: Organization Level Closing the gap between strategy and execution RESULTS Give freedom to adjust HOW in line with intent Quarterly strategy retrospectives with everyone ACTIONS FLOW Communicate clear intent WHAT & WHY Dialogue around strategy with everyone in interactive workshops PLANS Give freedom to decide HOW within boundaries Quarterly focus area Should impact the whole organization and be based on strategy & current needs @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 15 (21)
  16. 16. Results …
  17. 17. People’s Motivation Frustrated Motivated 18% Alienated 73% Satisfied 7% Frustrated Motivated 20% Alienated Commitment 72% Satisfied 6% Frustrated 67% Alienated Satisfied 9% 2% Motivated 20% 5% 2010 2011 Satisfaction Motivation clearly up in our People surveys @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 17 (21) 2% 2012
  18. 18. References
  19. 19. Experiences and Research @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 19 (21)
  20. 20. TRY! Too many organizations are trying to control the waves instead of learning how to surf. @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 20 (21) Mary Poppendieck
  21. 21. @erik_schon | #agilhrsverige | November 27, 2013 | Page 21 (21)

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