Haupz Blog

... still a totally disordered mix

Delegation Poker

2021-07-04 — Michael Haupt

A frequent cause of disconnect between (autonomous) teams and management is when teams are presented with a decision the need for which they agree with, but that they think they weren't properly involved in. This is usually the case when a team doesn't live up to one key expectation of autonomy: actually taking decisions, e.g., on improving their processes and then implementing them. If a team is unable to arrive at a decision, the natural consequence is to escalate that to the management level, because we cannot allow ourselves to be held up by indecisiveness.

If management is then doing its job, it still needs to be clear how the decision will be made, to avoid putting anyone off. Is the manager simply going to decide and tell the team what to do? Will the manager consult with the team and then transparently decide? Will the manager delegate the decision back to the team? There is a wide spectrum of possibilities, and to avoid frustration, it is important to agree upfront how a decision is going to be made.

Delegation Poker is a "serious game" that can be played to decide, before a decision is made, how it will be made. It's really smooth as long as everyone agrees on the ground rules. Delegation poker operates on a spectrum of seven ways of decision making, ranging from giving full direction to full delegation. To agree on how the decision will be made, the involved parties each play a card describing their preference. If the cards are one step apart, the lower number wins (this leans towards more managerial influence, in the spirit of getting decisions taken and things done). As long as the cards are more than one step apart, everybody is expected to explain why they've chosen that card, and then another round is played. With reasonable people, this helps to arrive at conclusions about how the decision is made, and then it can finally be taken.

Tags: work