by Jurgen Appelo
When you’re a team of just a few people, discussing roles, authorization and delegation is easy. You just show up at a meeting, or on a Slack channel, and ask each other a question:
“Can someone take over email enquiries?”
“Is it OK if I spend some money on Facebook ads?”
“What is the password for our Twitter account?”
“Can I get a copy of each invoice?”
The better your communication, the longer you can postpone documentation. However, there’s a limit to the volume of messages a team can endure. When you’ve heard the question “Can I expense something to the company?” ten times, you know that broadcasting information across all workers doesn’t scale well. With three people, it’s fine. With 30 people, not so much.
That’s why the Management 3.0 team at Happy Melly is now preparing for the next phase: we’re scaling up! Our transition will involve multiple small teams, delegation boards, work profiles, team agreements and team metrics. And maybe more! As always, we will implement and experiment with Management 3.0 practices on an as-needed basis.
Let’s start with Delegation Boards
As the owner of a company, you cannot simply delegate everything to a self-organized group of workers. It would be strange, at the least, when someone simply changed the company’s name or purpose, or signed a million-euro contract that would (legally) impact the owner of the business. Clearly, there need to be some boundaries.
In traditional companies, the standard approach is that workers are not allowed to do anything except the tasks that were assigned to them by their managers. At Happy Melly, it’s the opposite. Our team members are allowed to do everything except for some key decision areas described on these delegation boards:
For example, the salary formula of the Management 3.0 workers is my responsibility as the owner, but I simply confirm what the group agrees upon together. They can spend money on expenses in any way they see fit, with a limit of up to 500 Euros per month. If it’s more, then it’s an expense that we should agree together.
They can form teams in any way they like, as long as they keep me updated about any changes. And team size cannot go above 9, or below 3, without my permission. And hiring new people? We’ll do that together so we all agree.
The boards I show you above are my first attempt at clarifying the boundaries for our current Management 3.0 workers. I’m sure the check marks on the boards will move even further from the left to the right, depending on how our self-organizing system will evolve.
One thing is certain: at Happy Melly, we start with the idea that all activities are OK unless one of us has come up with a reasonable argument to draw a line somewhere. We cannot play great games, without honoring a few lines and squares. Our challenge is to keep redrawing those lines and squares so that we’re all having fun, while making money and making a difference.
Photo: rawpixel (Unsplash)