Wednesday, October 16, 2019

How important is alignment between people and teams?

What is alignment?

This is a simple question with a simple answer. Alignment between people and teams means having the same understanding of the current state of the affairs, strategy and goals, at the same time.

It's not hard. Think about it like this. You schedule a dinner with your friend. The moment you find out you cannot join, you send a message to reschedule. That's it. Both parties have the same information at the same time.

What does this imply?
  1. As soon as information changes, it has to be broadcast to all the affected parties.
  2. Information change means change of plans for both parties. 
  3. Common planning has to happen again.
Simple, right? 

What if the information change fails to reach all parties as soon as possible? Waste happens. The later the information arrives to the affected parties, the more waste gets created. Besides waste, there can also be actions taken that are not easily reversible. Think about if your friend is driving to the restaurant already because you failed to inform him about the change you know about 2 hours ago. You can add frustration to the effects. The last effect is the impossibility to create new plans for your friend on that night. Last but not least, you might be perceived as not transparent.

So, if we fail to broadcast information as soon as we know about it this is the effect we're accountable for:
  1. waste
  2. non-reversible actions
  3. frustration
  4. lack of transparency
I'm no saying this won't happen if you broadcast the new information immediately. You also might get new information too late. But if you continue with the late delivery of information, you're becoming part of the problem.

There is one caveat to information broadcasting. The dinner example may not be the best. When sharing new information you, as the informer, have to make sure the other party truly understands the new information. Is it crucial to do so because if you fail in making yourself understood, different information ends up being broadcast to others(this is something you cannot control). You can only control your part. So, make sure there is no misunderstanding. Avoid a snowball of misinformation. If the case is more complex, offer your support to clarify it to others. 

I chose this topic because it's something i'm facing every day. The root cause of this might be culture. Working with non-autonomous teams is another root cause. If i dig into this topic more i find something else. Experts make confident decisions. Experts are informed. They have experiences change and they know that working in technology means a lot of change. Inexperienced individuals expect clarity in tasks. Experts expect clarity in goals.

Image result for management agile levels autonomous teams

Show them the goal and get out of the way. If you're google, let them pick the goal for themselves.

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