Sunday, July 9, 2017

What is Self-Management and is it good for Agile?

This is a four-part series on Self-Management.  This first article focuses on what is self-management.  The second article conveys the difference between self-organization and self-management.  The third article focuses on putting self-management into action.  The fourth article shares the ways to mitigate the challenges in moving towardself-management.  First up, what is self-management?
Self-Management is an alternative approach to management.  It moves away from the traditional structure of hierarchical management and moves the core management activities and work related activities to employees therefore effectively eliminates the manager role.  Typical management activities that move to employees include planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling (per Morningstar Self-Management Institute). 
A major change that must occur for self-management to be achieved is a shift in mindset.  People within the organizations that move to self-management must believe they both have ownership and accountability of the work and each other.  More importantly, relationships matter in self-management as there needs to be personal responsibility to each other. 
Self-management in context to organizations and corporations doesn’t mean people can do whatever they want.  Leadership defines the mission level 'what' and 'why' for the organization. Employees own the 'what' to work on and the 'how' to do the work, along with 'who' does the work.  It means that within the boundaries of the organizational mission or strategy, employees align the priorities, budgeting, planning, staffing and more around the work.   
Models similar to self-management include Holocracy, which is defined as a different way of operating an enterprise that moves power from a hierarchy management structure and distributes it across autonomous teams. Holocracy should have clear rules and definitions on what teams and individuals can do. 
It is recommended to start self-management with first understanding all of the types of activities that management would do so that they are understood and then adapted in a manner what allows for more of a distributed ownership of the activities. 
As self-management relates to Agile, it may be said that they are both mutually supportively of each other.  Agile works better when the bounded authority of many management decisions particularly regarding the work are pushed down to the team effectively reducing hierarchy.  Inversely in order to achieve self-management, it is supported by the Agile values and principles and the mindset it brings that is center around a strong focus on individuals and collaboration.

To read the second article in this series, go to: The Difference between Self-Management and Self-Organization

The third part of this series is titled: Putting Self-Management in Action!
The fourth part of this series is titled: Ways to Mitigate the Challenges of moving toward Self-Management.

To learn more about self-management, consider visiting the Morningstar Self-Management Institute website at:


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