If we are to foster the core values of an adaptive workplace, then the organizational structure of the project team needs to reflect those valuesand hierarchical structures fail this test. Hierarchical structures foster many problems, as colleague Bill Ulrich relates :
The political agenda was furthered by the hierarchy chart, which had little to do with dynamic, highly functional information management teams . Hierarchical IT infrastructures established an atmosphere where politics flourished and collaboration floundered. Hierarchies also led to an embedded culture that fostered adversity and encouraged the consolidation of individual power bases, as opposed to delivering quality information to the enterprise. As power bases enlarged, struggles ensued and adversity grew. You soon had an environment where 80% of workers' time was dedicated to working around the system, and only 20% was focused on doing their job. Hierarchical management structures are also a classic way to punish those that refuse to play the game and to reward those who know how to manipulate the political machinery (Ulrich 2003).
A "hub" model for project organizations, as shown in Figure 9.1, reflects aspects of both hierarchical and network structures. Each node represents a team within the larger project organization. Within each node are individual team members. As the figure indicates, there may be several feature teams, a customer team, an architecture team, and even a center of excellence or community of practice team (not shown). Teams may be real, virtual, or a combination. The integration and build team, which has a specific role and meets periodically, could be a virtual team made up of selected part-time members of the other teams. The architecture team might have a combination of full-time and part-time members .
Figure 9.1. Hub Organization Structure
The project management team (which might consist of the project and product managers and leads from subteams) provides leadership and coordination and facilitates project decision making. The hub organizational structure focuses on the collaboration and coordination between autonomous but linked groups. Within a subteam, self-organization and self-discipline are equally important in creating high performance. As the project team size increases to encompass several subteams, there is also a critical combination of self-organization and team self-discipline. Individuals have responsibilities within a team structure, and teams have responsibilities within an overall project structure.
This hub structure isn't a hierarchically controlled one, but neither is it a pure network structure in which all control is delegated to the nodes. A hub might be labeled a "modified network" structure in which a significant amount (but not all) of the power and decision making are distributed to the teams. The development teams at each node work together in a way similar to that of customers and developers, with a bit of formality as defined later in this chapter. The project manager retains final authority, including the power to make unilateral decisions if need be, but her primary style is steering, not controlling.
The Agile Revolution
Guiding Principles: Customers and Products
Guiding Principles: Leadership-Collaboration Management
An Agile Project Management Model
The Envision Phase
The Speculate Phase
The Explore Phase
The Adapt and Close Phases
Building Large Adaptive Teams