Delegation Poker & Board, clarifying delegation and promoting empowerment.

“Delegation is not easy. Managers are often afraid of losing control by allowing teams to organize themselves, and creative professionals sometimes do not know how to organize themselves. A delegation framework allows management to clarify delegation and promote empowerment for both managers and professionals” by Jurgen Appelo – Managing for Happiness, p.60.

You can use the Delegation Poker & Board to clarify who is responsible for what and at what level you belong. With this method, you can encourage the engagement of your employees, through controlled self-organization, values, and well-informed decision making.

The purpose of Delegation Poker & Board is a good collaboration game. Many teams play without scoring points and, more than anything, it is a topic of conversation and a starting point for the discussion of who should do what.

The 7 levels of delegation are:

  1. Tell: I will tell them;
  2. Sell: I will try and sell it to them;
  3. Consult: I will consult and then decide;
  4. Agree: We will agree together;
  5. Advise: I will advise but they decide;
  6. Inquire: I will inquire after they decide;
  7. Delegate: I will fully delegate.

The “right” level of delegation is a balancing act. It depends on the maturity level of the team and the impact of its decisions. Delegation depends a lot on the context you are presenting to the team.

For more information about this practice, you can consult these links:

Why did I decide to put it into practice?

Six (06) managers and I, managed a relatively large contract, ranging from 60 to 80 professionals (analysts, developers, support, testers, architects, BA, technical leaders, specialists, etc.). On this contract, there were 05 management groups in Software Development and Infrastructure.

We had a gap in the alignment for understanding the responsibilities, concerning this contract. Certain decision flows conflicted or raised doubts in each domain with stakeholders, that is, between customer and supplier. Also, due to our management silos, we were faced with a major problem of communication and understanding regarding what the contract said. In short, each leadership acted in its way.

In this regard, the leadership needed to meet in order to align certain flows of decisions and standardize the conscience of all about the delegation, so that we can establish a relationship of responsibility.

With the use of the Delegation Poker & Board, we will be able to encourage the engagement of our leadership. Therefore, I proposed the dynamics for the team and facilitated the game.

How did I perform this practice?

We did our practice remotely, using:

  • MIRO: online platform that brings together several possibilities to transform our ideas in a more visually clear and objective way. All in real-time and in collaboration.
  • Microsoft Teams: unified communication and collaboration platform that combines chat, video conferencing, file storage, and application integration in the workplace.

Reserved time: 1h to 1: 30h in each meeting. We used 2 meetings to complete the whole dynamic.

On total our team has 06 members and everyone was invited to participate in the dynamic. The participants were three Project Manager, two Scrum Masters and one IT Coordinator.

I created a template in MIRO so that we can visually exercise our ideas and practice on our Delegation Poker & Board. Below is the image of our painting:

Image 1: Miro – Delegation Poker & Board
  • On the line, we have the items to be delegated.
  • In the column, we have the levels of delegation.
  • In the cell, we have the name of the individual, area, or function.
  • We created an extra column, at the end, to place some restrictions, assumptions, and observations concerning a particular delegation item. With that, we were able to create a more structured round table.

1st step – First we define which delegation relationship we want to deal with. In our case, the relationship will be what the XPTO Client will delegate to IT Outsourcing. (I’m maintaining the confidentiality of company names)

2nd step – I made a brief presentation on the topic and explained the 7 levels of delegation so that everyone could assimilate properly;

3rd step – Presentation of the Board at MIRO and explained how the dynamics would work;

4th step – The Poker went directly to the Board. I read the first statement, a delegation item, and explained it to the leaders. After the elucidation, some asked a few questions;

6th step – We counted up to 3 and all marked at the same time what type of delegation, by your choice, in the Board cell. We used the Letters, from the Board itself, which were above. Each one chose emojis to represent their vote. 🧙‍♂️

7th step – Next, we discussed the result;

8th step – In cases where were differences in the choice of the level of delegation, we run Poker once again, until there were no more differences.

9th step – The process was repeated for all items described on the delegation board. Some considerations, observations, restrictions, and assumptions were described in the post-its and added in the last column.

10th step – Finally, the Delegation Board expressed the result of Delegation Poker. The final result is in the image below.

My learnings as a facilitator

The MIRO tool helped a lot in collaborating dynamics remotely, I recommend it!

The surprise factor in the POKER vote, in my perception, did not have the effect I expected because there were some delays in votes that could have been influenced by the first votes.

Instead of using the dynamics with the flow of the manager for the team, we use the client in the role of “manager” and we, “suppliers“, in the role of a team. Interesting variation, do you agree? 🤨

The result of the delegation increased the view of status, power, and control. A system with distributed control has a better chance of survival than a system with centralized control, in this case, we had a centralized control system with the items that were raised.

Delegation is not just a transfer of responsibility, it must be accompanied and matured over time. Then we can mature with this result. The board is right there and we can always visit it.

It was proposed that each leader should conduct this practice with his own team. Then, he would make a comparison with the two results. Finally, show it in order to collect the feedback and suggestions for improvement and then consolidate.

The dynamics generated an artifact, to be developed. A primer so that everyone on the team can update themselves and, especially, for new members of the contract.

I recommend a previous sharing of a video or a help link so that everyone can understand the dynamics and the concept before the execution. In this way, it will help in the use of time.

We created a column to use as restrictions, assumptions, and comments on the flow of delegation. Each one could include a post-it to keep track and better targeting. That was cool because it made the dynamic very collaborative.

In the first and second meetings, we had the absence of 2 leaders. All parties involved must be in the momentum. Otherwise, there may be a lack of engagement by the absent party.

As an improvement for the next game, we can discuss How we want to be”, that is, what changes are the question: what level of the delegation would we like to have? With the result, we can have a better view of continuous improvement or negotiation with the customer.

You can suggest delegation items or create them together. I already had the Delegation Board ready. Even so, I asked everyone if there was anything else we could include in the dynamic.

But don’t worry, because this Board is a living organism. New topics can be added over time and periodically the team can meet to discuss both the levels of delegation of the issues that entered the Board and the items that were already there.

The Board is available to team members at any time. I also sent the images of the result, by email, to everyone.

If you want to become more familiar with this subject, I suggest some sites:

I hope you enjoyed this remote practice and can take good advantage of this post of mine. See you soon 😉👍 !!!

credits: the images were taken from the site: https://management30.com/

Also read the Portugueses version

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