Source: Carma Spence
Source: Carma Spence

Empower the team


Alternative name(s)

Self organising team

Source

Lean software development


Description

Empower the team principle can be seen as the guiding idea translated into a self organizing team practice. As observed by Poppendieck and Poppendieck (2003), this principle identifies that an efficient and effective execution lies in getting the details right, and who better than the people doing the actual work to understand the details. This principle fixates on the importance of involving developers in the details of technical decisions. As it believes that line workers combine the knowledge of the minute details with the power of many minds, when equipped with necessary expertise and guided by a leader will make better technical and process decisions than anyone from the central authority can make for them, because decisions are made late and execution is fast.
Self determination, Motivation, Leadership and Expertise are the four tools that could be used to transform this principle to practice (Leffingwell, 2010).

Discussion

This principle is basically the essence of agile project management, because it lets the team makes it own commitments, creates a sense of purpose at work, it encourages external image arrow-10x10.png self improvement and development, it limits management's role to providing resources, advice, support and guidance, and it encourages team members to engage in constructive conflict that leads to better decision and higher performance. However, the principle does not take into account that some teams might not grow pass the conflict stage and does not provide solution for when that happens. There might be some skeptic behaviors among team members as a result of the level of autonomy they enjoy from the empowerment (Poppendieck and Poppendieck, 2003).

Advantages
Improved Quality: With training, tools and guidance, teams can make independent decisions this encourages end return to quality work. An trained team empowered with problem solving qualities, take risks and be creative are most likely to assume ownership of the tasks.


Increase in productivity: Empowered teams make decisions on their own to increase productivity. Productivity in this case refers to resources and time,not waiting around for approval from supervisors, accelerates workflow but also creates team satisfaction.

Disadvantages
Slow Decision making: team empowerment can slow down important processes, particularly during times of major change or instability. Team empowerment can only be implemented in a stable environment, with established goals.

Increased Risks: Decision making by empowered teams without proper training and a set of guidelines can lead to chaos.


Links to other agile principles or practices

Self organizing team
Empower the team is closely related to self organizing team because they share the same perspective and approach as they both emphasize on the need of a flexible and autonomous environment for agile teams.

Links to PMO knowledge areas (KAs)

Team work
Team work is essential in empowering teams. Because in order to achieve a harmonuous, high performing empowered team there is the need for team members to collaborate, communicate and external image arrow-10x10.png knowledge as a team.
Strategic decision management
This is a concept whereby the agile project manager uses tools, procedures and practice by discussing issues with the full involvement of the stakeholders, to an agreed shared strategic vision, as a response to the external image arrow-10x10.png changing project environment. This relates to the above principles in the use of the self-determination, motivation, leadership and expertise tools used in transforming this principle to practice.


Examples of use outside to IT domain

The automobile industry (Toyota) is a good example of domain outside IT that have successfully applied this principle, Toyota has been using this principle for decades in order to prevent defect and provide external image arrow-10x10.png improvement, every team is responsible for solving any problems and defect found, the employees are free to send suggestions and which they send thousands of every year, the company empowers the person who discovers an idea or suggestions in developing and implementing majority of the such idea.


References

Leffingwell, D. (2010). Agile external image arrow-10x10.png requirements: lean requirements practices for teams, external image arrow-10x10.png, and the enterprise. Addison-Wesley Professional.

Poppendieck, M., & Poppendieck, T. (2003). Lean external image arrow-10x10.png development: An agile toolkit. Addison-Wesley Professional.

Schaubroeck, J. Tishler, Asher. How CEO empowering leadership shapes top management team processes: Implications for firm perfomance. The Leadership Quartely. Vol. 22. Issue 2. Pages 339-411. Elsevier Science. Available at:
http://bit.ly/1Mxcl6U


External links

Toyota Empowering teams. Available at:
http://bit.ly/17glvEw

http://bit.ly/1LaL0UJ

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