Somehow, I came across this great article about what to do to build a great work environment in an agile enterprise. In this short reflection, I want to highlight some of the (for me) most interesting thoughts.
My working environment is very important for me because of my attitude towards my “job”. For a long time I know that I’m pretty much on the extreme side of Theory Y, meaning I’m very self-motivated and would continue to work even when I’m not being paid. Attention to my employers, if they read this: I’d like to pay off my house, so there still would be some amount of money involved. ;) Anyway, the article beautifully describes important concepts of intrinsic motivation, flow and self-determination in a working environment. Of the 26 “Agile Management Innovations” (AMIs) introduced in the article, I found the following especially interesting:
Slow Communication states that in order to have more uninterrupted flow moments, asynchronous communication has to be used. I experienced that especially when being in my home office. The generally important but sometimes distracting interactions with my team mates simply doesn’t happen so that I can focus for hours on a given task. I often said it and I’m proving it again and again: I’m up to 300% more productive when working from home and working on the right tasks. Just last Monday, I finished three user stories by myself, plus some important “small stuff” work. Normally because of the daily communication that comes with my role as a tech-lead, I’m happy to make some progress on one single user story.
Autonomous, self-organized and cross-functional teams is how I’ve been working for the last three years now, so it’s nothing special for me anymore. However, when talking with people working outside of IT or even developers working for other companies, I realize that the company I’m working in is very, very awesome in this regard. Just last week a manager of mine told me to simply do the mini-project I asked permission for instead of bothering him with it. This culture leads to more strategic thinking on my side: Is this new project really worth my time and the resources of the company? What do we gain by this? Those questions make me think more about the whole group of companies I’m working in, not just the project, the department or even the single company.
Open Space is a concept that replaced the plenary meetings in our company. Up until two months ago, we had regular meetings in which the upper management gave presentations about the usual topics: goals, numbers, projects. That of course is important and (to a degree) interesting. The new concept however introduced a radically breaking change: an Open Space was introduced. Instead of just sitting and listening to talks, 100% of the topics have been brainstormed, presented and worked on by the employees. I’m completely amazed about the number and diversity of the ideas of my coworkers and it was hard to decide where to participate because there where so many great opportunities. I think that the introduction of the Open Space concept marks yet another important milestone of the great company I’m working in.
AMIs are examples of how to build an agile organization. From the 26 items, slow communication, autonomous teams and Open Space are the ones that had the greatest impact on me so far.