Every Mission, Product or Operational Team needs a launch to excel within their organisational context. The team clarifies its purpose and aligns on enabling factors that support them to be effective.
To launch a team successfully, we provide them:
When Launching a Remote Team the pains and dysfunctions of a fully co-located team are amplified by distance. This enables any team to clarify purpose and come to an agreement on the enabling factors that support them to work effectively.
A clarified system of work enables the team to pursue metrics informed evolution, uplifting productivity and effectiveness. Evolving over time as circumstance changes and the team learns.
The Remote Working Alliance describes how the team will operate in the new normal; with respect to individual circumstances and the system of work. It enables the team to intentionally form the patterns for sustainable productivity in the new normal.
The Operational Cadence provides the Remote Team with regular points for synchronisation through recurring timeboxed activities.
The first step of the team launch is to gain shared clarity about the system of work. The team needs to understand where demand comes from, how it is prioritised/sequenced, how it moves through the system and how to measure performance.
A clarified system of work enables data-informed decision making; uplifting productivity and effectiveness. The team evolves the system of work through change based on empirical evidence rather than guesswork.
The system of work may vary depending on context; and, depending on whether the team is a Mission Team, Product Team or Operational Team.
Visualising the work is a process of understanding where demand on the team comes from, the nature of that demand, the workflow to deliver value to customers and explicit policies. Through this process the team designs their work system, clarifies their role, and provides transparency for the rest of the organisation. The minimum information the system of work communicates will change based on the needs of the team.
The team clarifies how they integrate with the broader ecosystem. Where possible the team should leverage Remote AF ceremonies as a point of integration to reduce the double-handling of information. Questions to help the team identify integration points are;
Constraints and support mechanisms from the Enterprise or other teams should be articulated if they aren’t clearly legible within the visualisation of the system of work. The team articulates the upstream teams or capabilities that enable it’s a backlog or represent the process for escalating blockers to the Team of Teams and Enterprise. Some examples the team should consider are;
Measurements for performance are determined to facilitate the Remote Team’s ongoing improvement. Where practical these measurements should ideally be adopted from the Enterprise or Teams of Teams. We recommend the following as a starting point:
The second step of the team launch is the Remote Team Alliance, which describes how the team will operate in the new normal. The team agreement is designed to respect individual circumstances and the system of work. It enables the team to intentionally form the patterns for sustainable productivity.
The Remote Team Alliance is published in a commonly accessible repository for the organisation and updated as the team evolves. To maintain alignment with the evolving needs, teams review the agreement at least once per quarter.
Even if inherited from the Enterprise or Team of Teams, the Remote Team clarifies their purpose to align on it as a valuable distilled fragment of the organisation. The Team Purpose is integrated into the team’s digital presence to clearly telegraph their domain and encourage reflection of the team members.
While it may seem silly, a team name, a clear purpose and even visual elements like flags, colours, badges, uniforms or images can strengthen the team bond. In a remote context, we recommend those team members have a small item in their working area that identifies the teams that they belong to.
People heavily rely on face to face interactions to establish rapport and work effectively together. All home environments are not equal and it is important that the team builds empathy for the situation of team members in a safe and respectful manner.
During the Team Launch remote teams safely surface information about the home environment e.g.:
We facilitate this by guiding the team to vote as individuals on which statements resonate with their context;
To support people in feeling comfortable to share information about their home, the votes can be made anonymously. To respect everyone’s right to privacy, we don’t ask for specifics about their vote although they are welcome to share details to help craft team policies.
During this process, people may become aware that other members of their team are in vulnerable situations. Depending on the jurisdiction a legal duty of care to people may extend to the home environment, moral duty of care aside. Leaders should familiarise themselves with the relevant support services available through their organisation or 3rd parties.
Support service details should be shared prior to this session and people should be given the opportunity to confidentially share personal circumstances afterwards.
Outside of the office, some teams do not need to worry about working synchronously. Effective remote teams work in the hours that they are most productive. Teams that are free to work at their own pace should try and build schedules that suit everyone but honour team and organisational synchronisation points.
Remote Teams agree on the channels for communication within the team and how they interact with the broader organisation. The team addresses communication upfront so it can intentionally respect individual circumstances. Examples of what the Remote Team agree on;
Virtual Collaboration is a critical tool for remote teams but needs to be used sparingly. The following are recommended heuristics for Remote teams:
Team policies define the rules the remote team adopts to enable productivity. We use the information captured throughout the launch to craft policies that reflect the needs of the team.
Team policies define the rules the remote team adopts to enable productivity.
The Operational Cadence provides the Remote Team with regular points for synchronisation through recurring timeboxed activities. Depending on the needs of the team, there may be certain ceremonies that can be triggered by a team policy rather than a timebox.