Who’s working on what, how is it funded, is it aligned strategically, is it the right work, and how do we know? These always were important questions that demand a different approach.
Transparency: It requires taking authority to the work whilst retaining control levers, building a remote-first, distributed culture.
Leadership: Leading within Intent is the application of agile values, principles and practices to the task of governance.
Systems: Demands a sense of responsibility and ownership to allow for greater levels of trust.
Information: It brings focus to what is needed to make the work successful by engaging the right people at the right time.
Remote and hybrid teams require an environment of openness and trust where people feel “safe” to present information (whether positive or negative) through formal or informal hierarchy and power distances. The lack of physical proximity mandates over-communication with greater clarity. In remote working, siloes can become chasms and positional authority arguably carries greater weight of responsibility.
In physical working environments we can help to stimulate the environment through visible cues and information - think physical kanban boards and information radiators. In a remote environment we need to rethink our approach. The move to long term remote working requires broader investment and focus on digital enablement of these practices, using the concept of the ‘Digital Obeya’ - a business intelligence rich digital dashboard that connects strategy to execution.
The outcome is faster flow of information from a position of trust, reduced dependence on documentation, culminating in faster decision making and increased productivity and engagement.
Modern ways of working require a style of leadership that moves from the mechanistic approach where people are viewed as cogs in a machine, to one where creativity and individualism can flourish. This necessitates being more of a coach that leads people rather than a manager who manages things.
Remote agility needs leaders who can adapt to context, knowing when to support, guide and provide enabling constraints, and knowing when to exercise authority. They encourage evolving processes as teams learn and adapt as opposed to mandating tasks.
In the initial phases of the move to remote working, leadership is required to be more prescriptive. As the systems of work stabilise, leadership then transitions their style to one of intent, looking for opportunities to move authority to information, whilst keeping the system in a balance state.
One of the keys to building high performing teams is the ability for the teams to describe their own local 'way of working' and create a safe space for ideas to flourish. This needs to be undertaken with a focused, disciplined and collaborative approach to give everyone in the team, including their stakeholders, suppliers and customers, clarity on how to move work through the process. Remote work is obscured from those that traditionally govern it therefore the system of work needs to expose the unseen and elevate it.
It is vital that the teams themselves describe their work and have autonomy to improve they way they work, or they lose a sense of ownership and the intent of agility.
Moving to remote teams drastically amplifies the tools and focus required due to the loss of line of sight, water cooler chats, physical information radiators, whiteboarding sessions and learning via osmotic communication.
Remote working requires different ways of understanding where teams are in terms of their predictability, delivery and improvement over time. It is critical to see where teams integrate when they are working towards common outcomes and objectives.
The tooling adopted, whilst providing greater power to generate insights for radiating that information, can also demonstrate where to focus improvement efforts over the value chain. When implemented effectively you can achieve deep productivity insights into your teams that were previously hidden by layers of manual status reporting and delays in information flow.
Moving to remote teams amplifies the need for real time dynamic metrics that are focused on productivity, predictability, quality, sustainability and effectiveness as our ability to gain verbal and visible cues is lessened. This visibility replaces opinions with rich fact based data upon which to make directional decisions and is supported by amplifying leadership communication.