Tag Archives: Teams

Be successful and productive – use your talents

To be productive and successful within a team, make the best use of what you’ve got to work with – use your talents to make an impact.

Earlier, I explained how you can become successful as an individual when the organization you work for is organized around teams. A simple model is the basis for individual success in teams, consisting of three circles: 1. you and your talent, 2. you and the team you work with, 3. you and the organization you work in

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the inner circle again. In the center of the model for individual success in teams is you.  With the help of some practical tips and exercises, you can become “The I in Win”. 

Let’s zoom in on the second element of the three elements in the center:

  1. your values that define success to you (what drives you)
  2. your talents that you can use to be successful (what makes you unique)
  • your experience that you have built up in using your talent (what you already know and did)

You and I, we have to work with what we’ve got. The positives and the negatives. In the past, many managers have urged me to become better at the things that I did wrong in their eyes. At one time, this lead me to believe that I wasn’t a very good consultant. Other people seemed to be far better in the things that I found hard. For example, when I saw how good some colleagues were in making a personal connection on all levels in the organization, I felt a bit jealous.

Then one day, I met a coach who showed me that I do have some useful talents. She told me to make use of my talents.

It dawned on me that when I stopped fighting my own limitations, I could use my time and energy on using my real talents. And by doing that, the practice made me better at using them. The first talent that I learned to embrace was my talent for finding creative and innovative solutions. This has helped me in developing Super7 Operations at ING.

What’s more, it may be hard to spot the value in some of your talents. They may feel as hindrance.  In my case, I am quite good at perceiving emotions and stress in meetings. But I couldn’t use that to my advantage. Whenever I noticed some stress or irritation I directly assumed that I was doing something wrong to cause that. And that made me nervous and even defensive. And being defensive is not the best way of cooperation.

First I had to accept that I was sensitive for stress and emotions in others. I found out that I might be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). It wasn’t going away, I needed to live with it. When I accepted what I had to work with, I could even see that it could be a useful trait as well. That I could be very empathic. And that is very useful when working in teams, as I discovered. I experimented with using my sensitivity in meetings, conversations and in coaching colleagues. 

Accepting my own talents has helped me greatly in my career and in life. Accepting one’s own talent  is a crucial element in becoming successful in any organization, but especially in team-based organizations.

Menno R. van Dijk

Be succesful and productive – know your values

To be productive and successful within a team, make sure you know what’s important to you – know your values, know what drives you.

In my previous post, I explained how you can become successful as an individual when the organization you for is organized around teams. A simple model is the basis for individual success in teams, consisting of three circles: 1. you and your talent, 2. you and the team you work with, 3. you and the organization you work in

Model by Menno R. van Dijk

In this post, I’ll zoom in on the inner circle. In the center of the model for individual success in teams is you.  With the help of some practical tips and exercises, you can become “The I in Win”.

There are three elements in the center:
1. your values that define success to you (what drives you)
2. your talents that you can use to be successful (what makes you unique)
3. your experience that you have built up in using your talent (what you know and did)

 

Let’s start with Values. Understanding your values can be very useful in making important decisions in your life. Your values are like an inner GPS-navigation system, that guides you towards the right way. You can choose not to listen – but you will probably not get to where you want to go.

Some of my core values are being creative and making things better. These are the values that helped me in writing my book on Super7 Operations.

There are several simple and effective exercises available to help you to get a clear view on your values. One that I particularly like is this one:

  • Imagine that you get € 50 million. What would you do? Think about this for a minute. Then take your time to write this down, so you can read it back later
  • What makes the things you wrote down so nice, important or valuable? Write this down too
  • After you did the first two steps: it’s not about the money, if you’re honest. What you’ve written down is what’s important to you, and what you want to achieve. This helps you understand your values

Change is needed on how individuals and organizations see and reward success. You as an individuals need to know what defines success for you. You can do this on your own, or with the help of specialized coaching. And organizations need to recognize unique talents within teams, and reward them proportionally.

Menno R. van Dijk

Achieving individual success in a team organization

Individual success in a team organization is radically different from what it was in traditional organizations. To become successful as an individual in a team-based organization, you have to take action on three levels: 1. you and your talent, 2. you and the team you work with, 3. you and the organization you work in

Michael Jordan said it best: “there is no I in ‘TEAM’ but there is in ‘WIN’”. In sports, the most talented individuals are recognized as being the most valuable. In team-based organizations, e.g. Agile organizations or Super7 Operations, this is not yet the case. But it has to, if these organizations want to keep their most talented individuals on board.

In traditional organizations, the results of talented individuals were very visible. Based on their individual results, they would quickly get promotions and pay raises. In a team-based organization, however, success is always the success of a team, not of an individual. On the short-term, this work fine, much better even than traditional organizations. But after a few years, the real talents get restless and will demand recognition – or they will leave.

Change is needed on how individuals and organizations see and reward success. You as an individuals need to know what defines success for you. And organizations need to recognize unique talents within teams, and reward them proportionally.

It starts, however, with you. From my years of experience with team-based organizations, I’ve developed a practical model that you can use to become successful within your team organization.

Model by Menno R. van Dijk

Model by Menno R. van Dijk

First, you need to become “The I in Win”. For this, you need to work on understanding and improving three elements for success:

  • your values that define success to you (what drives you)
  • your talents that you can use to be successful (what makes you unique)
  • your experience that you have built up in using your talent (what you already know and did)

Secondly, you need a successful team. On this level, you need to work on improving two elements for success:

  • best-practices that enable teams to be succesfull (e.g. Lean, Agile, Super7 Operations)
  • excellence in cooperation, making optimal use of the different talents within your team

And finally, you need to manage your surroundings. The better you get a managing yourself and your team, the more successful you will get. At that point, you need to work on improving two elements for success:

  • make sure that you are rewarded for making the best use of what you do best, not for trying to improve on what you do worst. In a team organization, you don’t have to excel in everything.
  • find the best people to work with. Use the success of your team to increase your circle of influence. You will be able to choose your team and the organization that suits you best.

For more information, practical exercises or coaching (in Dutch or English), please check this site: www.persoonlijke-innovatie.nl

Menno R. van Dijk

Agile for sales, Super7 for sales: the change towards lean sales teams

Agile for sales or Super7 for sales – implementing lean teamwork has great potential for sales effectiveness. In a lean team, individuals can spend a larger share of their time on what they excel in. And it is this excellence that delivers results.

A sales team that truly works together will sell more than the same number of efficient sales agents working independently. Great successes have been achieved in financial services with lean-based ways of working. Agile and Super7 Operations are perhaps the most well-known examples of this. And now, within financial services, experiments are starting with lean-based teamwork in sales.

The required change seems quite big, as sales agents were rewarded for their individual success up to now. This resulted in what I like to call a “lone hero culture”, where successful individuals were valued over team players. In a lean team, team members are willing and able to help each other. The culture will become that of a learning organization. And the team continuously improves on their cooperation and effectiveness, striving towards outsourcing everything but excellence.

Recently, I was invited to a brain storm session on how this Dutch bank can transform its sales organization towards lean sales teams. Together with an expert consultant in sales effectiveness, an Agile Coach, Super7 practitioners and sales managers, we designed the outline for lean sales teams on the basis of our Agile and Super7 Operations experiences. I expect that experiments will start soon and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.
Menno R. van Dijk

Situational Leadership for development of autonomous team

Leaders of developing autonomous teams can use the Situational Leadership theory to help and support the teams in their growth towards autonomy. Autonomous teams – Super7’s, Agile Squads, Scrum Teams, etc., can’t be fully autonomous from day one. So, how does a manager manage an autonomous team or Super7 that is still developing towards true autonomy? The answer: apply Situational Leadership.

Situational Leadership is based on the Hersey Blanchard Leadership Style matrix (see figure).

Hersey Blanchard Leadership Style matrix

leadership styles for autonomous teams

A newly formed not-yet-autonomous team benefits from the directing leadership style. For instance, an Agile Squad in this phase needs to be told how to work the agile way. And the operations team manager of an immature Super7 team may need to tell the team to use their team board for daily planning.

As the autonomous team develops, the required leadership style changes accordingly. From Directing to Coaching, then on to Supporing and finally Delegating.

In practice, however, this can be quite challenging for a team manager. In my experience with Super7 Operations, the most difficult part of the implementation of Super7 is often to apply the right management style at the right time. And, every manager has his or her preferred style: the style that he or she does best. In a traditional operations department where managers steer on input and use strict quantitative controls, directing and coaching are most often needed. In a mature Super7 organization, however, Delegating and Supporting are the most useful styles.

As a result, the managers that are good at Directing and Coaching often make the most progress at the start of the implementation. But in the long run, a Super7 Operations department thrives under managers that are good at Delegating and Supporting. This asks a lot from the managers. It is good to acknowledge this fact. A successful implementation needs to address not only the methodological side of Super7 , but also take into account the ‘warm undercurrent’ of the change on a personal level.

Menno R. van Dijk.

 

Gamification helps Super7 teams to become successful

Recently, I attended a presentation on how Gamification can help Super7 teams to become successful. A talented graduate student had designed a method where super7 teams manage not their actual performance, but instead manage a virtual company.

First, a Super7 team got to choose their virtual business. For instance, a team would choose to become a virtual coffee bar or tea parlor. Their operational results as a Super7 were translated into virtual sales figures and profits. When quality or timeliness would fall behind slightly, this would show up in customers staying away from their virtual company. Excellent service in their real work would boost their virtual popularity and sales. And, the amount of capacity needed to process their real work would determine the costs side of their business.

I can only imagine the fun the teams must have had with this approach. And, the results where great, from what I heard. I hope to share more about the exciting possibilities of applying gamification for Super7’s in the near future. And, could this be a whole new way of engaging scrum teams or agile squads as well?

Menno R. van Dijk.

Principles of Agile and Super7 compared

Many companies are adopting the principles of agile, nowadays. And they often find that their operations departments are ahead in this field. This is because of their experience with Lean and autonomous teams – their experience with Super7 Operations.

So, how do the principles of agile compare to the princples of Super7 Operations?

The agile principles (source: www.agilemanifesto.org):

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change or the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

The principles of Super7 Operations:

  1. The Super7 team has a goal that is relevant for the customer. The Super 7 team can help each other in achieving this goal. The goal is translated daily to a goal for that day. The Super7 team is committed to achieving the daily goal. When problems arise during the day and the daily goal can’t be met, the Super 7 team responses by doing what they can to come as close as possible to the goal. When that isn’t enough to reach the goal, they ask for help from their team manager.
  2. All Super 7 team members have the skills for all types of work. The Super7 Skills-Matrix shows who can do what, and at what skill level. The Super 7 team members are sufficiently flexible in working hours to be able to meet customer demand on busy days.
  3. Team manager steers on output. Manager stimulates the Super 7 team to come up with solutions. Manager is available and helpful when the Super7 asks for help.
  4. The daily rhythm is tuned to the rhythm of the customer requests. There is a fixed schedule for Super 7 team stand-up meetings, focused on achieving the daily goal.
  5. Super 7 team is autonomous in work distribution and who does what. There is a standard way of working. The team can deviate from this standard, as part of an improvement experiment.
  6. The Super 7 team is stimulated to continuously make the daily goals more challenging. Standard norm times are improved and planning is made tighter. This is done though Improvement Kata and Kaizen. As an Improvement Kata habit, a Super7 conducts small experiments, aimed at achieving the next target condition. For larger improvements, they plan a Kaizen event. There is a constructive performance dialogue, based on facts and figures, on all level of the organization.
  7. The Super 7 uses visual management. Daily goal and progress towards this is visible on the Super7 team board. Performance of last period is visible, as is the trend. Running and planned experiments and improvements are visible on the Super7 team board.                                                                                

The similarities are clear:

  • Delivering value to the customer is the main priority
  • Teamwork is key
  • Self-organization
  • Flexibility over planning
  • Face-to-face is the best way
  • Continuous improvement based on reflection on performance

Because of these similarities, experience with Super7 Operations will facilitate the transition towards agility.

Menno R. van Dijk.

 

Transformation to Agile benefits from LeanSixSigma experience

When traditional organizations transform into Agile, they can benefit from their LeanSixSigma experience.

Many traditional companies are looking with great interest at how innovative tech companies are organized. Even in banking, an industry that is known for being conservative, experiments are taking place with Agile Organization:

  • multidisciplinary squads instead of functional teams,
  • tribes instead of departments
  • IT development and business management in close cooperation
  • Continuous delivery of small changes (sprints) instead of big projects

LSS
Lean Six Sigma has been applied in banking for more than a decade. Many banks have their own pool of Lean Experts or LeanSixSigma Blackbelts. As Agile is based on similar principles as Lean and the Toyota Production System, this experience may be very valuable in this transition.

 

Agile organizations use Agile Coaches, to help the team in the use of the Agile and Lean principles. LeanSixSigma could add to that. For instance:

  • Put focus on the Voice of the Customer. Challenge the Squads to determine and measure the customer impact of their work.
  • Make sure the quantitative results of every sprint are visible
  • Achieve alignment between squad missions, tribe purpose and company vision. This can be done through Hoshin Kanri – a method for policy deployment developed by Toyota and an important Lean method
  • Accelerate problem solving by applying the Coaching Kata to the squads Improvement Kata, and by applying Analytical Problem Solving techniques from LeanSixSigma

 

The transformation of classical Back-Offices to Lean Super7 Operations has been an exciting journey so far. The transformation from a top-down functional organization to an Agile organization promises to be even more so.

Menno R. van Dijk.

Similarities and differences between Agile Squads and Super7 teams

What are the similarities and differences between Agile Squads and Super7 teams?

Many traditional companies are adopting an Agile way of working, inspired by innovative companies like Spotify, Zappos or Google. In financial services there is also inspiration from within: the transition from classical operational management towards Super7 Operations.

 Similarities Agile Squads and Super7 teams

  • Small team of 5 to 9 members
  • High degree of autonomy
  • Steered on output
  • Team has one mission, one common goal
  • Workload and progress is made visual
  • High degree of flexibility in skills and capacity

Differences Agile Squads and Super7 teams

  • Super7 Operations for ‘customer requests’: operational work, at least in part repetitive
  • Agile Squads for ‘customer missions’: customer services or enablers involving any combination of product development, marketing, product management, data management and IT
  • Super7’s have daily goals (e.g. TITO): daily processing of all customer requests for that day
  • Agile Squads work in weekly sprints, weekly releases of customer-ready solutions or improvements

My conclusion is that both Super7 teams and Agile Squad are manifestations of the same Lean principles. For example, both apply visual management, flexible resources (capacity and skills) and customer centricity.  I expect that the Agile trend delivers the same break-through results in product development and product management as the Super7 trend has delivered in operations.

Menno R. van Dijk

Super7 teams benefit from Lean Operational Management

Super7 teams benefit from having the standard processing times and performance dashboards in place. These elements from Operational Management help a Super7 team in steering itself. When these basic elements from Operational Management are missing, implementation projects tend to take more time. It takes longer before the Super7 teams become autonomous.

Super7 Operations claims to be the next step for Lean in financial services. But how much does it owe to the previous Lean wave in financial Services? Which elements from Lean Operational Management are essential for the success of Super7 Operations?

The Next Step for Lean builds on the previous step

The way I see it, Super7 Operations is the logical next step for Lean in financial services. The first lean waves in financial services were often aimed at introducing standardized work,  standard processing times, and making performance visible in performance dashboards.

Standard processing times make the work plannable. In Lean Operational Management, managers use them to plan the work for their teams. And afterwards, actual production is compared with planned production to calculate performance*. The manager then retains control through performance dashboards.

As I explain in my book, Super7 teams are steered on output. And, in Super7 Operations, the teams get the freedom and responsibility to plan their own work. However, both output steering and planning your own work becomes much easier when standard working times and dashboards are in place.

In Super7 Operations, the customer determines what needs to be done: the workload is based on the actual demand from that day. The manager sets the boundary conditions: that all requests are processed the same day (Today In, Today Out, or TITO). Work is often planned on forecast. But, to make planning decisions, the team needs to be able to match the forecasted workload to their planned capacity. And this can only be done when the forecasted number of customer requests can be translated into hours of work with the help of standard processing times.

Dashboards are equally important in Super7 Operations, but primarily for the teams themselves. They need to be able to see if all their Continuous Improvement efforts are paying off. And dashboards can be used to constantly raise the bar, both by the team itself and by the manager. Too many green lights become a red light, as the saying goes. This means that when the daily targets are met every day, this should lead to a more challenging target. More service in the same time for instance, or doing the same work with less capacity.

When standard processing times and performance dashboards, two basic elements from Lean Operational Management, are missing, implementation projects tend to take more time. It takes longer before the Super7 teams can make the decisions that make them truly autonomous.

Menno R. van Dijk

*Performance in Financial Services is often expressed in Total Team Effectiveness, a derivative of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) which is the standard within manufacturing.