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Jurgen Appelo on Better Management with Fewer Managers

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At the Dare Festival Antwerp 2014 Jurgen Appelo talked about his new book Management 3.0 Workout and showed examples how organizations can improve the way that they manage themselves.

Jurgen told a story about Linda Hirzmann, the graphical designer for management 3.0. They were already working together for two years when Jurgen realized that he didn’t knew much about her. He drew a personal map about her, which is a mind map of a person showing their interests, activities, background, etc. Then he invited Linda over for dinner where they talked about many things. After the dinner he updated the personal map, finding out that he learned from her on some of the things mentioned on the personal map, but there were also things that he still didn’t know much about.

Many people stress the importance of co-location for agile teams. According to Jurgen it is not geographical closeness that is important, it’s mental closeness that matters. People need to know each other to work together in teams. As he explained in the story about Linda, personal maps can be used to visualize how little you know from a person and to get to know each other better. They can also be used as an icebreaker exercise with teams.

The first question a business should ask itself is “Why?”. The purpose of an organization is not a statement from management. It should be something that shows why people decide to work together and what makes them proud and happy said Jurgen. He suggested that people should explore their most joyful moments, and in stead of creating a mission statement create an exposition of their work. Jurgen call this a work expo: an exposition showing what people do and why they are doing it.

Everybody is managing something said Jurgen. Job titles don’t matter. What is relevant is the actual contribution from people.

To get rid of something in an organization you have to offer something else. You can add things to make other things go away. Jurgen gave an example: if you want to get rid of performance management then you should offer a different approach, for instance by using salary formulas, a kudo box or merit money.

Full self organization is like combustion, there need to be some constraints. And self organization doesn’t automatically happen by itself said Jurgen. He talked about how he uses self-organization for his workshops. At one time there was a workshop planned in Brussels. The event was promoted and people had subscribed to attend it, but there’s wasn’t a venue arranged for the workshop. A couple of weeks before the due date Jurgen got nervous and contacted the local organizers. They managed to get everything arranged on time and the workshop was held. It became clear that there were many things that the local organizers were able to do themselves, but a different level of delegation was needed for arranging the venue. Jurgen mentioned that he uses delegation poker and delegation board to find appropriate levels for delegating work and empowering the people that he works with.

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