Several years ago, I accepted the challenge to build a global semi-autonomous innovation practice that focuses on collaborative consulting for rapid concept & strategy development. Sure this all sounds super cool, but part of the challenge was building such an innovation practice within a large traditionally structured global IT organization. When starting the innovation practice at World Wide Technology (WWT), our management team was aware of self-organization models popularized within the agile community, such as Holacracy, Spotify and Teal, and provided advance warning to not try those. Rather applying lean principles (since management didn’t forbid those), we focused on elements of our work that provided value to our customers and in doing so defined 4 key activities that are supported by the team members within our consulting practice. By defining these 4 key activities, team members are enabled to work within flexible boundaries necessary for knowledge work supportive of innovation but the definition of the activities provide a basis for management and coaching to evaluate business and team member performance. Using the defined activities to assess business & team member performance, we can reflect on how well team members and the business have performed and establish challenging yet attainable goals for future growth & improvement. Lastly, the key activities of the consulting practice create a mechanism that all members of the team can share their work enabling awareness, collaboration, feedback, and appreciations between team members on a globally distributed consulting team. Join us to learn how aligning around 4 key activities has enabled the World Wide Technology (WWT) innovation practice to grow by providing a simple management mechanism supportive of knowledge work that enables measurement to coach team member performance and evaluate business growth.


Outline/Structure of the Keynote

Presentation Background

This is a NEW session/presentation that is inspired by various conference coffee chats to share the management practices used within the World Wide Technology innovation practice. Specifically, practices I use as a leader of an international consulting team to manage & inspire a team of leaders themselves and to encourage us to rally around our shared/team business goals vs. individual performance.

World Wide Technology is a $12B privately held systems integration firm for which the innovation practice has globally distributed staff that focus on defining business concepts & strategies to which technical capabilities can support. As the nature of work within the innovation practice can be fluid (concept & strategy consulting), we created a management model by defining specific consulting activities that provide value to our customers and metrics to assess performance of the business and team members. This model allows for the measurement of business outcomes and team member performance using traditional management metrics (utilization, progress towards goal, etc) but provides flexibility for team members to use a fit-for-purpose approach within the boundaries of our 4 key activities.

Our model is supportive of how an organization can have pockets of self-organizing / autonomous teams within a traditional management structure reinforced by processes and metrics.

The intent of this presentation is to be informative based upon real experience from the last 3 years growing an international innovation consulting practice with annual revenues in the millions – this presentation should inspire dialogue / questions on the type of management structures & activities that are more supportive of the agile mindset for knowledge work activities including all types of coaching and consulting.

20 Minute Presentation – to be created for Business Agility 2018 . . .

  • 3 Minutes – Problem statement – What was the problem that led to the exploration to create an activities based (Guided Autonomy) management model? What aspects of knowledge work / innovation are challenged by traditional management practices?
  • 4 Minutes – How activities define value – What are our key activities, how did we define them, how do we use them to work as a team, how our activities enable us to engage with those around us?
  • 4 Minutes – Using guardrails to promote safety – Review the safety practices (focusing on psychological safety) and transparent agreements (called guardrails) that our team operates within – these guardrails provide a safe environment for team members to be innovative in support of client outcomes and provide a mechanism to reduce / avoid risk. Learn how guardrails increase trust by specifying protocols by which management will advocate on behalf of the team (and vice versa).
  • 5 Minutes – Measuring performance – What metrics do we use to assess effectiveness at both the team & individual level? Share how our performance metrics enable coaching with team members and other business units that work around us?
  • 4 Minutes – Sharing & engagement – Demonstrate our team practices that are intended to foster engagement & intrinsic motivation (dream clients) as well as team sharing to promote mindfulness, feedback, and appreciations.

Learning Outcome

  • Participants will learn how management practices that focus on intent and outcomes rather than process promote autonomy, innovation & engagement necessary for complex knowledge work.
  • Attendees will be exposed to strategies to use metrics to assess of business & team member performance within a semi-autonomous work environment.
  • Participants will review practices to promote sharing, collaboration, feedback and appreciation on a distributed knowledge work (consulting) team.

Target Audience

Those interested in learning how to apply self-organization models within a traditional / structured organization and those responsible for managing high-performing staff which are leaders themselves.

Prerequisites for Attendees


schedule Submitted 3 years ago