Self-management : The Ultimate Guide

What is self-management?

So, self-management is a brand of management where there is no manager. So the employees, you remove the entirety of the managers, like the middle managers. And the only thing that’s left is one person at the top, giving a vision to everyone. So there’s kind of a boss left, but he doesn’t really decide anything. And the workers, they get together, and they solve problems on their own. There’s Not that many companies or organizations that succeeded in organizing themselves as self-managed. But there are a few. There’s one big company. It’s a nurse organization in the Netherlands. And it’s super big. It’s the biggest organization of nurses in the Netherlands. They’re organized by a group of 12. 12 nurses and they’re all self-managed, so they take care of everything from accounting to giving the task, to giving the raise, and then all the way down to even firing. everything that is normally the task of a manager is now in the hands of the workers the guy at the top so like it’s I can’t pronounce the name of the the thing so I will not try you can google like nurse um nurse self-manage the netherlands and you will find it and the guy’s name I don’t remember and i either but you can find him as well he gave a few talks about that then it’s all in the realms and the toolbox of agile management but they pushed it very far like by having a group that is self-managed all the way down to accounting and it is a pretty good example there’s another example that I heard that it was a company that had like a power plants so they were building like hydroelectric power plants which is normally a super like structure with projects and like an army of people saying sir yes sir and they basically did it like without managers so a single employee could on his own decide to build a plant a multi-billion dollar project and all those examples they come from a book called um self-management something like I will take a few seconds to quote you the book because all those examples and stuff that I talking about I found them in a book reinventing organization by frederick lalu and I am particularly interested in self-management because This is how I want to structure my organization. So in this stream, I am looking to work with my team, basically. So often you have me on the left and my team is on the right and we talk. And for now, I am still kind of a manager, but my job will be more and more to give a vision and less and less to decide tiny bits. This will be for the people to decide by themselves. So I will be trying to put self-management into action, into this team, into this tree. And in a nutshell, that is what self-management is.

How to improve self-management?

So, the guy that did it with the nurses in the Netherlands he was saying that his job becomes kind of a mascot or a he’s a father figure always talking about like him how like to remind everyone this is self-management that comes with challenges what we don’t have any managers and it was always reminding a little bit the vision and everything and one thing that I got from the book is there is a a firm that helps organization with self-management, and they sell classes to the employee on how to succeed in the, how to succeed in their management, self-management pivot, let’s say, and they help with the classes and formation and stuff like that. So I think that down the road, we will get a a few of those classes from this this organization one one something I will I will search it and put it in the notes below but get classes information from a self-management firm seems like a good way to improve self-management.

Why is self-management important?

So, self-management, we could argue that it’s important or not important. I will share why I think it’s important for me. Part of my philosophy is that people with the proper tools, they can manage themselves. but give them a very highly bureaucratic structure, now they can’t manage themselves. They need a manager. But those managers, what do they do really? They cannot do nothing because it’s the people at the bottom of the management chain that just do the work. Once you did the work and now you’re a manager of 12 people, you’re not doing anything anymore. You’re just like, Not doing anything, really. You used to be an important part of the organization. You were building a house. Now you’re talking to 12 people who build houses. And then it creates this confrontation dynamic between the manager and the team where they’re like, well, fuck you. You were part of us. Now you’re paid more. You don’t build the houses anymore. We’re the ones who build the house. So tell me what to do. And if you forget the drill, don’t give a shit. your responsibility as the manager to get the tools and blah blah blah and it creates this thing where you have a bunch of people paid to do nothing to be really kind of in confrontation with other people I always thought that was stupid but then I always had argument with my friends who are managers who say to me that’s human nature you need the managers and everything and one of the reason why I am interested in self-management is basically to prove them wrong. That it is possible. That’s my hypothesis, really. Kind of an educated guess. And then I want to try and maybe I’ll fail. And then I’ll come back here and say, sorry, I tried it and I was wrong. Management is important and you need a manager because it’s human nature. Or I’ll come here and say, it’s possible look we did it so that’s why it’s important to me.

What are our self-management skills?

Well, then think of something that you think that a manager should do now it’s your responsibility So that’s it. So every skills that you think that a manager should do is now part of the responsibility of the team. So those nurses are there’s a size of a team that is like ideal and there’s a size that it becomes too big. I’m guessing teams of like five or six are an acceptable size. And within the team, They need to possess all the skills to do their job. And so all the skills like accounting, like marketing, like organization, like scrum and task management and organizing priorities All the skills that are required from someone in an organization must be possessed by at least one or two members in a team. And it’s too long to list, but I guess that it all boils down to one. Good communication. Communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate. That’s it.

How can you use self-management skills for living a healthy life?

Well, I would say that self-management is in the realm of the agile toolbox. Agile methodology, it’s more like I see it as a toolbox. Within that toolbox called agile, there is a There’s a hammer, a drill. There’s many things. Self-management would be a hammer or a drill. And there are other things in the Agile toolbox. And in the Agile toolbox is, well, basically, many tools that can help you improve your life. For example, I mean, the concept of an MVP, a functional prototype. so how do we achieve something well one of the technique to achieve something is to start small with something very very small that we then improve learn the lesson and improve it and then learn the lesson from that slightly bigger thing that you build from something small learn the lesson and improve it learn the lesson and improve it so and that helped me a lot because let’s say you’re like I need to train my body I need to do more sport wow that’s a big project so what can I can I do something today for example yeah I can go walk but I have no motivation but can you walk for five minutes yeah well then that’s it go walk for five minutes that’s your mvp okay that’s your like minimal viable product it’s like this like the smallest thing you could do today and then come back and you learn the lesson did I like it uh kinda but I should have gone to the mountain because that part was more fun so next day maybe you can drive to the mountain and start at the mountain ah yeah and then maybe improve that and then so that’s one of the example that I really did in my life it starts small I always start small and do something today and then you will improve tomorrow and I did that for many things from health to management to project to many to this right now me talking to you is an improvement of what I did yesterday.

What’s the worst way to show self-management?

I guess it would be to give an order you do this because I’m the boss that’s the opposite of self-management it’s like what would you do and can I help you achieve your goal because I’m not the bus I am a coach more or less so the worst way to be it would be to like it is because like that because I’m the little dictator of this thing And another bad way is to allow managers to creep in. So the company that I gave the example earlier that we’re building power plant, at some point they were like, they went into the stock market and then they had like stakeholders and shareholders and all these people saying like, ah, it doesn’t work. Self management won’t work. We need managers telling everybody what to do. And then they were trying to resist the people at the top. Like, no, no, no, we’re special because of that. And that’s, like also how we are able to make all that money because we don’t have managers but then at some point they let their guard down for a while and then bam managers arrived you say this because then the structure the traditional structures with managers got created it was the end of self-management so one of the worst thing that you could do in a self-managed company is allow managers to exist or arrive.

What is a scrum?

So, a scrum is a get together of a team in front of a board, usually in the morning. And it’s centered around a few things to get the pulse of the team, to see more or less if everyone is like, on like target it’s also accountability for people to all share what they did yesterday and what they’re doing today so they want to be accountable to their other team member if they did nothing yesterday they want to don’t want to show up at the scrum and say I did nothing So there’s accountability there. There’s a team. It’s a place to celebrate the tasks that have been done. So it’s a good habit, I would say, to wait to move a task to done on the board to the scrum so we can all celebrate together. And it is a way to keep track of what needs to be done. So it’s a team in front of a board. Most simple thing, it’s a team gathering, talking about tasks in front of a board in the morning. That, in a nutshell, is what a Scrum is.

What is a Scrum Master Certification?

In my opinion, some bullshit. Somebody said, all right, I will give a certification about Scrum Master. Maybe they can say that they’re certified Scrum Master. But in the end, if you read the book, you check what Scrum is and what are the tricks, and you practice that, then you’ll be a Scrum Master. So the certification, to me, It’s probably bullshit. But a formation, talking about a scrum master, is more. And the better question here, I think, is what is a scrum master? So the scrum master is the person who is responsible for… making sure that the scrum doesn’t turn into a meeting because that’s like the trap every time. Somebody says, I did this and now I need to bring this up to the team because blah, blah, blah. But that’s not the place for the scrum. First of all, the entire team is there. So it shouldn’t last more than 10 minutes. and it shouldn’t turn into a meeting that is two person discussing and eight person like losing their time so basically the scrum master is responsible to uh make sure that the scrum keeps moving stays under 10 minutes so the scrum master is the one who says like that that’s not Like right now, we’re not doing a meeting. I’ll take a note. You two will discuss it after in a meeting. I’ll be there. I’ll allow like 30 minutes, for example. And so the scrum master is the person responsible. So the scrum stays quick and keeps moving. What is a scrum team? Well, you can, it’s a team. a team that does a scrum in the morning a team like kind of like them the size of the team let’s say six people there would usually be a scrum master that will usually be a product owner but those roles should usually change from week to week So this week you’re the scrum master. So it’s not like there’s one scrum master. It’s like there’s a scrum master today and tomorrow it should change. And any team, but team of a size with a board, a scrum master and the product owner can be called a scrum team.

What is a scrum meeting?

A scrum meeting is the same thing I said earlier. It is a What is a Scrum or what is a Scrum meeting? It’s the same thing. It’s a get together with a team in front of a board quickly in the morning to get a pulse, to celebrate what has been done, to make sure everyone’s on track, and to make sure everyone’s accountable.

What is the agile project management methodology?

That is too big to summarize in a answer but I can try to so the agile methodology was created by a bunch of programmers mainly in the beginning of the web when they realized that most of the projects they didn’t succeed they were like losing money they were trying to build for years and then not deliver anything of value because the technologies were changing. The needs of the clients were changing. They were like living in a highly changing environment because the web had just arrived and people didn’t know what they wanted. And then they were like, this is insane that we’re doing all this work and then that the client just trash our work. There has to be another way. let’s come up with a new methodology and then that’s where they come they came up with the methodology of will deliver something this week of value like and then we’ll build from that which is the opposite of the old method which is called cascade where you plan for months and then you execute and at the end you have your product and So then it’s like, no, don’t forget the product at the end. We’re delivering something this week. What can we do? And then it’s just a button that does something. Perfect. That’s what we’ll do. And then we’ll give them into the hands of the people who are supposed to use it on their own. And then they will give us feedback. And then next week, we’ll improve the button by a second button or we’ll change the button. And then it’s the concept of starting small and improving incrementally is what is at the center of What is true about agile project management? It works.

What is a sprint in agile project management?

All right, so a sprint will be a collection of tasks with a date at the end. You will usually, let’s say, do a sprint of one month or two weeks or even one week, okay? And then you try to get tasks done at the end of the sprint. So the sprint is like to create some kind of, let’s say, version of your product, but also like it’s to create a sense of emergency within the team that let’s get this done in this sprint. Let’s not wait till next week. Let’s get it done in this version. Then at the end of the sprint, you create a version. A sprint will be a collection that’s tasked with an end date.

What is teamwork?

That is a very broad question. But in a nutshell, teamwork is Basically, a team dividing a bunch of tasks to achieve a common goal. That’s it!

What is a characteristic of a successful work team?

I would say a board, a scrum, and good communication. This is how I would sum it up.

Why is teamwork important?

Well, teamwork is important because there is a thing that’s like where the sum of all the parts are higher than the sum of the individual parts okay let’s take an example a band music band now you have a let’s say you have a bass player he’s a 80 Eight out of ten. And you have a drummer, he’s a seven out of ten. And you have a singer, she’s a nine out of ten. But when they play together, something magical happens, and they’re 9.5 together out of ten. Well, how is that possible? That together they’re 9.5 when individually no one is above nine. There’s a seven, an eight, and a nine. How come it’s not the average? Well, that’s the teamwork. That’s when people get together, sometimes something magical happens, and the sum of them together is higher than the sum of their individual skills or their individual part, and that is why teamwork is important.

How to praise a team for good work?

-That’s a good question, and I’m still working on that, but I would say that constant like reinforcement of like stuff that went well I would say that like blame is never really like any it doesn’t like it doesn’t work you know like I’m of the since I want to implement self-management I’ve always like more of a like good you tried that and that didn’t work so we learned a lesson Good. That’s in the Agile methodology. That’s very good. so it’s like never negative reinforcement always positive reinforcement I say also to wait till the scrum to um to celebrate the successes of the team and that is something I’m still working on to be honest so I um it’s a good question and I’ll be able to give a better answer in a year in two years and in five years question.

How do you deal with procrastination?

I try to habits the answer is habits so procrastination is like just not wanting to do something today so just put it back to the next day which is normal behavior but To be able to deal with stuff in the long run, you need to do a little by little every day. And you need to change your habits. So procrastination is a habit that lives inside of you. And to change it, to change a habit, you need to do a little bit every day, a little every day. So that’s how I procrastinate this thing. Well, I’ll do five minutes. Like, fuck it. Not zero. I’ll do five. That’s nothing. Here we go. I would say that to deal with procrastination, you need to change your habits. And to change your habits, there is a bunch of tricks, and we can have like a whole talk about habits. But the genesis of the habit is the same as the agile. Start small.

How do you handle obstacles and impediments during a sprint?

It’s a good question. Like, I mean, you need to try something. You need to get together to find a solution, to try solutions, start small. I mean, that’s a good question. And I’m not sure I have the proper answer, but I would like, I’m always of the, let’s try something. Okay. Who has an idea? Okay. Who has a better idea? What’s the best idea? This is the idea? Let’s try it. Let’s see. So this is my approach to obstacles in life.

What are some common challenges teams face when adopting Scrum?

It’s like, oh, this is never going to work. We’re losing our time. The Scrum turns into a meeting. People are like… In French, it’s like they don’t want changes to happen and people don’t show up. Like they ruin the scrum on purpose. So you need to start with like a small team and then slowly adopt it. It’s like, it will take time. So that’s another challenge. Typically, like people are like, they don’t want to change so they don’t want to adopt this scrum methodology first and then there are still a bunch of managers like ruining the process and it turns it to a meeting that would be challenges.

How do you measure the success of an agile project?

It is measured in the value um it delivered to the client That’s how the success of an Agile project is measured. It’s something of value, something useful was delivered to someone. As much usefulness to as many people as possible. That’s how you measure it.

What qualities do you think make a good manager?

That’s a good question because I don’t want any manager in my infrastructure. So not existing. Go back to work. Don’t be a manager.

How do you motivate and inspire your team members?

I am live on Twitch every day. Trying to answer question and answer question and remove blocks and the obstacles it’s constant communication that would be how I try to motivate and inspire.

What is your approach to managing remote or distributed team?

I will have the entire team on um the chat in a twitch channel with something I’m trying and I will be there answering questions like whenever somebody’s blocked I will propose solutions I will hear their solution I will vote I will vote on what I think is the best solution. Constant communication will again be the thing. And the constant, like, they will see my face, you know, to inspire and to give the vision constantly.

Do you create an organized task in your task manager system?

Very simple. It’s like we use Trello right now we have three columns to do doing done and we just like rank the we put task in to do to organize them we organize them by a ratio of Whatever is the highest value and whatever is the lowest resources needed, we do first. So what can we do of high value like right now today? That’s what we do first. So the to-do is organized like this. Then we have the doing column. What are we doing right now? This is one of the tasks that was in the doing column. And we try to… get the doing column into done and then we do a scrum we celebrate when the task has been done.

How do you handle task dependencies and resource constraint?

So, it’s the blocking system whenever somebody is blocked by something the entire team is responsible to unblock that person If a task can’t be achieved because some other task is blocking the achievement of that task, then the entire team has to kind of focus and get together to remove that blocking factor. So whatever is the loss in the resources is usually done by people who want to do their job but cannot because they’re blocked by something else. So the blocking here is the red alert, like in the child methodology. Somebody’s blocked. They need to raise their hand and we all need to stop and unblock them. Okay. This is like the major thing that will make a team lose resources is the blocking faster. So that’s the highest priority of us. The entire team is to unblock everybody else.

What factors do you consider when setting priorities?

Two factors. What is the value added of that task? Okay. On a scale of 1 to 10, you can say, oh, that’s a 9. That’s very good. And then the other thing is what’s the resources needed? Well, let’s say that’s a 9 too. It will be long. It will require three team members. We need to invest $1,000. Okay, what about this other task? Well, that’s an 8. That will add a lot of value. And then what’s the resources needed? It’s a 1. It will take me an hour. Then we do that one first. So we do whatever is easy and add a lot of value first. And then whatever is hard and requires a lot of value and add less value, requires a lot of resources and add less value, we do it last. And that’s how we set priority. Those are the two factors to look at.

What strategies do you use to avoid getting overwhelmed by multiple priorities?

What can we do today? You need to then do a ratio. We have multiple priorities. Well, what’s the one that has the most value for the least amount? Let’s say there are two that are equal, flip a coin. They’re never really equal. There’s always one that’s easier and that adds a little bit more value. That’s the one you do first.

And that’s it, guys. That was it for my little talk about self-management. And, well, stay tuned for another session of management talk.

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