Self Directed Teams

April 16, 2018

As teams become a more popular method of organizing the workforce, different types of these groupings have emerged. One of these is a self-directed team, or a team where the members are responsible for an entire business project, typically with very little input from a manager or supervisor.

Self-directed teams usually consist of employees from various departments all collaborating together on a specific project. These employees each bring their own different levels of expertise to the group to help develop a product, design a new process, problem solve, create training, improve a product/service and more.

Why did self directed teams emerge?

Self Directed Teams were born from a need. The traditional top down approach to business with managers and supervisors making a majority of the major decisions was quickly becoming too time consuming.

By constantly having to default back to someone else for approval before a project could move forward, results and improvements were not being generated fast enough. Teams were learning that not only was the top down approach killing innovation, but they needed faster ways to implement improvements on the fly.

For ongoing innovation, problem solving and continous improvement to occur, teams needed to better leverage the creativity already present on their teams. Self Directed teams are awesome because they bring together people from many different disciplines and gives them the power to implement and spearhead change.

What does a SDT need?

For a self directed team to be successful, they need the appropriate framework, context and tools that will allow them to effectively collaborate. Ideally, the right tool would replace traditional top down coordination (like email blasts, tons of meetings) and allow the SDT to set up a workflow that would allow them to communicate and collaborate.

The challenge many Self Directed Teams face is that when information is not accessible or not properly shared, this allows for miscommunication to stunt the team's progress. If the team members are not all on the same page, that can lead to role confusion and create a lack of accountability that allows for key deliverables to fall through the cracks.

Considering SDT do not have a 'leader' that makes it even more important that information is fully shared and accessible to the entire team. With complete transparency and instant continuous information sharing, every team member can take full ownership, be held accountable and is always informed to adjust the current course of action if needed.

What's the problem?

Without having a unified place where they can plan, create and collaborate, it's hard for a SDT to work their best.

The Who, What, Why, and When and How of every project has to be clearly defined in order to assure that the team has all of the info they need to move things forward.

The challenges SDT's often face is that information is scattered and hard to find. Overloaded email inboxes, endless chat threads, never-ending meetings and documents hidden in folder jungles cause enormous information and collaboration drag, which is deadly for SDT's.

The challenges with many tools is that they aren't optimized for teams to be able to capture all different kinds of information, which means information is being shared in different places or is not being shared at all. These tools are also rigid, and force everyone to work one way and often still require some level of approval or review before things can move forward. That goes against the founding principle of most SDTs: which is giving members the freedom and flexibility to be innovative and creative without supervision.

For a SDT, it's counter productive to use a tool still built based on the top down approach. This can lead to frustration on SDTs, as they are trying to think and work together more collaboratively, but can't maximize their progress using a tool that doesn't allow for some level of flexibility.

Your SDT team needs a tool that:

  • Ensures that information is being shared by allowing your team to create and share anything easily

  • Has a flexible way of organizing information: this means everyone can put things where they want them, while still keeping info organized 

  • Has a multipurpose UI with different views, so that the team can do planning, collaboration and information sharing all in one place

  • Allows them to design their own workflow - which includes setting goals, planning their work, and giving all of their work a status or action

You need to choose the right tool to maximize your team's productivity while giving them the freedom to brainstorm, create and act on new ideas. By introducing a more organized and flexible way of working, your SDT will be able to be productive like never before.

How do SDT's use TipHive?

Information sharing

TipHive lets you create Cards to quickly share any type of information: text, links, files, images, videos, notes, lists, tables, and so forth. Easily define roles, processes, templates, best practices, goals and so forth. Cards are designed for fast sharing and collaboration and to quickly find the information you need. No more 60 page documents. On TipHive you share bite-sized information aimed at moving things forward with speed.




Cards are organized with Topics and Subtopics, a flexible organization system that lets team members self-organize information and repurpose it easily. It lets you quickly engage team members to gather all the information around a subject, process or project and dynamically adjust the organization as you go.




TipHive lets you choose different layouts to view your Cards, including views to plan the work. Whether it is to see who is doing what, when something is expected to be completed, what the progress is, or at what step a task is in the workflow - with a simple click you pick the view designed to best give you the information you need and move the work forward.



Combined, these features make sharing and collaborating seamless, empowering any team to act as a self directed team.



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