Unleashing the power of small, independent teams  

15 July 2018:

What does it take to set loose the independent teams that make agile organizations hum? These teams are the organizational units through which agile, project-based work gets done. The typical agile company has several such teams, most composed of a small number of people who have many or all of the skills the team needs to carry out its mission. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos contends that a team is too big when it needs more than two pizza pies for lunch.) This multidisciplinary way of composing teams has implications for nearly every business function. Take IT management. Instead of concentrating technology professionals in a central department, agile companies embed software designers and engineers in independent teams, where they can work continually on high-value projects.

While much depends on the actions of the individual team members, senior executives must thoughtfully create the environment in which teams and their managers can thrive. In a nutshell, senior executives must move the company—and themselves—away from outmoded command-and-control behaviors and structures that are ill-suited to today’s rapid digital world. They must redouble efforts to overcome resource inertia and break down silos, because independent teams can’t overcome these bureaucratic challenges on their own. They must direct teams to the best opportunities, arm them with the best people, give them the tools they need to move fast, and oversee their work with a light but consistent touch. These ideas may sound straightforward, but they go overlooked by too many leaders who’ve grown up in more traditional organizations.

This article explores how senior leaders can unleash their companies’ full potential by empowering small teams and supporting their managers, whose roles have been redefined by agile thinking. Let’s start with a glimpse of what that looks like in action.

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Source: McKinsey&Company

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