Topic Title: Self-Forming Teams

Initiator: Adam Hsu

Participants: Adam Hsu, Kate Leonardo, Gordon Ridge, Kevin Tighe, Riccardo Reihers, Tina Duncan, Anitra Pavka, Gaile Sweeney, Michelle Michael, Jason Stanley, June Fox

Discussion Highlights: In this session Adam Hsu provided background and insights on what a Team Self-Formating event is about and why an organization might consider leveraging it to stimulate a true feeling of change during an organizational redesign to enable small, co-located cross-functional teams to self-organize around the work.

Key points that were covered at the beginning of the session were:
1. A Team Self-Forming event should be planned months in advance and should not be done lightly
2. Leaders, teams, and coaches need to be trained and coached before, during and after the event, which only marks the beginning of a change in the organizational design
3. People are also given the opportunity to “opt-out” ahead of the actual self-formation event if they feel they do not want to be part of the organizational redesign to create small, co-located, cross-functional teams
4. Senior leadership must truly support the outcome of the event and not undo decisions made by the people who self-formed into teams by reassigning people to what they feel “should be” the teams – this takes as much time needed to coach leadership on understanding and following through with support
5. Facilitators need to understand that it is not about them and the event is completely focused on the best outcome of the people in the room who are empowered to form into the best teams they can to support the product or organization’s goals
6. Facilitators also must be comfortable knowing that self-formed teams may not result from the event due to whatever unforeseen circumstance and allow non-formed teams at the end of the day
7. Facilitators need to be prepared to deal with emotional and sometimes very tense situations where the participants are challenged to self-form due to personality conflicts, different intents, and misunderstandings.

Observing the key points above, the session participants were given the opportunity to learn how to facilitate a team self-formation event using a simulation.  Participants were given the challenge of self-forming into teams that would support a new restaurant with a very clear product vision.  Using a cartesian map to help visualize four dimensions of (1) Love (2) Hate (3) Expert and (4) Novice the participants oriented themselves in the room based on those four dimensions regarding each critical skill identified by the group to fulfill the product vision.  Finally, the participants were then facilitated through several rounds of self-formation based on their personal skills map into cross-functional teams that could meet the goals of the product vision, and also checking to make sure that those who would be potential team mates are happy about the configuration.

Ideas for Action/Next Steps: After learning how to run a team self-formation exercise the participants were encouraged to run their own simulations in their workplace to experience for themselves how it would feel to facilitate a team self-formation event. Once they are comfortable with the mechanics of how to facilitate a team self-formation event, they may choose to begin planning an actual team self-formation event for their own organizational redesign.

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