What are self-organizing teams?
Following up some of the questions in my last webinar on March 6 I want to explain what distinguishes a self-organizing team from a manager-led and self-governing team.
Manager-led teams are defined and led by someone from the outside. A manager appoints a project manager and the project manager becomes the boss of a team. The team reports to the project manager; the project manager to the project sponsor or another manager. The team does whatever the manager tells it to do. It is an extension of a linear hierarchy we still can witness in many organizations these days.
In contrast to manager-led teams are self-governing teams. These teams do not have exposed leaders at all. Indeed there is not even an outside manager. Teams are self-selected in the sense that team members have found each other and work on something their teams decide. The directions of such teams come from the teams themselves. A mob may serve as a good example.
Self-organizing teams are somewhere between manager-led and self-governing teams. While the overall direction of the work of self-organizing teams may be defined from the outside, self-organizing teams decide by themselves how to execute these tasks, manage processes and monitor progress. Self-organizing teams design their own activities that cumulate in final project deliveries.
Questions from the webinar:
Dinesh K: How do you rate productivity of different team (managed vs. self-organized vs. self-governed team)?
Productivity can be high in either team. However, it is most likely that self-organizing teams have a greater productivity in the long haul.
Thomas D.: Do Managed Teams use teamwork?
Yes, they can. However, don’t necessarily expect team magic, i.e., team synergy effects, to evolve. Often a “team” which is manager led is more like a group of indviduals. In case the manager empowers the team, true teamwork can evolve.