Team marketplace - how we splitted a big 40 person team into 5 small in 2 hours

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on January 22, 2013

I have a new coaching assignment at Tradera which is the Swedish branch of Ebay. I've been there about 30 hours during the last three years, mostly doing presentations and courses. In a way it feels like I've been part in what they have done, but only as a bystander. This gig looks like a lot of fun and I've always been impressed by the technical excellence there and the willingness to adopt new things and change.

I was thrown right in at the deep end as they were about to reorganize their big team (30-40 people) into 5 smaller teams with particular features to look after. The first thing they wanted help with was some input around HOW to go about organizing this. And make no mistake - they we're well on their way doing this in a excellent way already. I merely supplied some confirmation and ideas. The good thing about working with great clients (:))

The challenge

So our challenge was to do this re-organization without people feel that we decided for them. We wanted everyone to work where they wanted - no were they had to, according to "our" opinion. Each team had (what is normally called) a ProductOwner and maybe one or two Business Analysts assigned already. The people we wanted to distribute was mainly technical people such as developer and testers.

The idea

What we ended up with was simple idea that turned out to be a fun and interesting event: we organized a team marketplace. I'm probably influenced from somewhere and credits are probably due. Please correct me if you've heard about this and I should point somewhere there.

Basically we had every Product Owner (PO) for each team to create a presentation for their team, the team mission and where they wanted to go with the team. I suggested that each team was to supply a metric or two that will be important for them. The presentations each team lead gave was very impressive as they all presented impact maps (or something like that), vital metrics and visions in a great way. That gave us all a good way to know what was going to happen in the team.

We then had one day where we introduced the company vision, WHY this was way of working was important NOW. Each team then got 30 minutes to present themselves in away that would attract the "right" people to their team.

The first day was ended with an open discussion held as a Lean Coffee and we went for a beer (or other cold beverage, Salvation Army friends) or two.

The second day each team put up a booth for their team. Here the could again present themselves in a way that would attract people to their team. 2 hours were set aside to let people mingle around and get to talk with all the teams, the PO's for each of them and ask questions.

An email was then sent out where each person could rank their interest from 1-10 in each team. This was done to still allow for some flexibility in the placement. Maybe some people didn't care that much about which team they belonged to? You could then simply indicate that by show your interest for more than one team.
The result was aggregated and the day after we moved into place in our new teams. Note that some teams didn't start their work right away in the group, but the sat together from the outset. I think this is very important for two reasons: first you got a team-feel right away, secondly we could start small (a few people in the team works on new stuff) but still keep everyone updated.

How did it turn out?

Well - mostly it's still to be seen.
The event was a great success. A lot of great conversations, ideas and laughter was heard all around. Many people that weren't involved in the change was drawn there and got involved in the discussions too.

Developers and testers felt like they had the freedom to chose where to go in a big extent, according to a lot of comments. Note that we included both contractors and employees in the move. No difference between those - we think that both these groups would benefit from doing what they like rather than being assigned a team.

Take-aways

  • It worked!
  • Great group of people being allowed to think for themselves can actually solve hard problems (reorganize 40 people) pretty fast. 
  • This exercise built a great Go!-feeling in the group. 
  • No-one (of the 20+ i asked) felt that this was stupid and not worthwhile -> important stuff can be done with a twist of fun too. 
I'm very happy and grateful to be at Tradera that dare to try new stuff. We great people comes great stuff.


Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated