The Iconic's Experience with Squad Self-Selection (Spoiler Alert: DO IT!!!!!)
Feb 06, 2019 · Sandy Mamoli
We have run Squad Self-Selection for two quarters in a row within ICONIC Tech and it has been wildly successful (99% of our staff either love it (77%), or like it (22%)). Our process included about 30 people and 5 Squads. We wanted to share our experience in the hopes of inspiring other organisations to try this too.
-- by Jody Weir, Head of Agility at The Iconic
This post was originally published on The Iconic's blog.
We decided to try Squad Self-Selection because we thought it might be a better approach to what we were currently doing which was having managers decide who was on which squad. We hire exceptional people and thought they could best decide what and who they worked with while keeping the interests of the company front of mind.
Immediately After our Squad Self-Selection Process…those are genuine smiles!!
A bit about THE ICONIC and ICONIC Tech
THE ICONIC is the largest online fashion retailer in Australia and New Zealand. THE ICONIC stands for benchmark-setting experiences (3-hour delivery, access to over 1,000 top brands, market-leading shopping app), for impassioned communities (connecting Australians fashion and sports lovers through digital innovation), and for our love of the newest in fashion from our 1,000+ leading local and international brands.
Our ICONIC Tech Team is currently 110 people strong. We have 13 Squads that are made up of ~7–11 people with cross-functional skills including Product Owner, Scrum Master, Software Engineer (Front-end, Back-end, App), User Experience Design (UXD), Data Science and Analytics. Our Squads are self-managing and autonomous. We release into production 10–20 times a day. For the past 2 quarters, 5 of our 13 Squads have been experimenting with Squad Self-Selection.
What is Squad Self-Selection?
“Squad Self-Selection is a facilitated process of letting people self-organise into small, cross-functional teams. Self-organising teams are groups of motivated individuals who work together toward a share goal and have the ability and authority to take decisions and readily adapt to changing demands.”1
“Self-Selection honours the principles of trusting people to be responsible adults who can solve complex problems and organise in a way that’s best for the organisation and themselves. We believe that organisations get the best results when they can choose what they work on and who they work with.”2
Why did we do it?
Squad Self-Selection is a great fit with our culture at THE ICONIC which is customer obsessed and focused on employee empowerment and continuous learning. We hire the best people and trust and enable them to do great work. With Squad Self-Selection, our people have the power to choose for themselves with the company’s best interests in mind. It’s also efficient and effective. Even the best informed and well-intentioned managers will never be able to be able to choose for an employee as well as the employee could for themselves. And it takes way less time. A bit of prep and a facilitated workshop and it is done and dusted, versus several meetings to gather preferences, make decisions and communicate those decisions back to each individual.
How did we do it?
We followed the guidance from Sandy Mamoli and David Moles’ blog posts and book ‘Creating Great Teams…How Self-Selection Lets People Excel’. We also had the courage to give it a go. While we were planning, it was easy to come up with ‘what if’ scenarios that might be tricky to solve…what if no one wants to work on X initiative? What if it doesn’t work and the people aren’t able to work things out together? We decided to plan our approach as best we could, deal with challenges in the moment and stop ‘what if-ing’, since those conversations weren’t moving us forward.