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People who know me professionally know I adore Agile. I usually have post-it notes and Sharpies about my person at all times. Obviously, I named my business after it.

Whilst those of us who adopt an “Agile-ish” approach to work and life are probably familiar to the general concepts of collaboration, flexibility, being able to respond to change, there is another principle that’s adopted within Agile organisations – Self Organising Teams.

My client the Scrum Alliance (a professional body for Agile practitioners) has this to say about Self Organising Teams:

“Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team.”  

“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

I was reminded of the power of Self Organising Teams last week within my role as Chair of the CIPR South West.

Our group covers an extensive geographical area of the UK, from Land’s End to Gloucester. Leading a group of volunteers when I’m based at one end of the country isn’t without its challenges – it takes me three hours to get to a meeting, for example – but we make it work.

Part of our remit is to support with organisation of the PRide awards. PRide is an annual awards scheme that celebrates campaigns, teams and individuals doing outstanding things in the PR industry across the regions.

Ours is a super region covering the entire South of England, so I collaborate with my colleagues in Wessex and the Channel Islands, plus event managers in CIPR’s HQ.

This year, I’m proud to say that we smashed our target for encouraging entries, with a 20% increase in award applications from across the region across 2o categories. The vast majority of these come from the South West region.

Based on this example, what works in a self organised team?

  • Clear goals – we knew what we needed to achieve, and received regular feedback on progress from our HQ colleagues.
  • Trusting my team of volunteers to get on with the job in hand. They don’t need me micro-managing and checking up on them.
  • A manageable plan, broken down into bite-sized activities. We pulled together a basic six-point communications plan, run across platforms, to support entries.
  • Being prepared to switch it up. Accepting that not all aspects of our plan, erm, went to plan. Being prepare to try something different.
  • Collaboration. We decided to hold a Twitter chat to talk about aspects of creating winning award applications. Rather than join the noisy digital marketplace, we worked with the established and schedule #CommsChat.
  • Being generous with the High Fives. Offering credit where it is due, and passing on feedback. I was particularly proud of our social content around PRide entries this year.
  • Retrospectives. Whilst we’re working as a disparate team across many locations, we’ve co-ordinated a face to face meeting next week to plan the next pieces of work.

If you are a CIPR member and are interested in joining the South West Committee, we have three current vacancies open: Treasurer, Content Officer and PRide Co-ordinator. So if you are comfortable handling online banking, or love event management or creating impactful digital content, I’d love to hear from you.

Twitter: @RachelPicken

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