During the delivery of the workshop ‘Holding Space for Self-Organising Teams‘ I became aware of how many myths are around about self-organisation.

We gathered the myths during the workshop and below you can find our listing of the top 5:

1. Hierarchy = bad
Self-Organisation = good

Hierarchy can provide some ‘secure base’ to work from.

Leaving self-organising teams all to themselves can raise so much stress that creativity and innovation are hard to find. But with too much hierarchy likewise.

It’s a continuum and it will depend on the situation and what the team need.

2. Self-organisation = no structure 

Often it’s believed that self-organising means leaving people to run things as they want.

It cannot be further from the truth: it just means a self-organised team can design/choose their own structure.

Holacracy and Scrum are examples. All teams need some form of structure or ‘secure base’ to work from.

3. A team is ‘good’ or a team is ‘bad’

Each team needs about six months to reach high performance.

You can facilitate a smoother process by making sure trust is built, safe structures are in place and vulnerability is allowed.

Most teams go through their developmental stages, and some don’t reach past a certain level.

I believe with a good coach any team can become high performing.

4. Self-organising teams don’t need help 

It is very rare that there are teams without any facilitation, initiative taker or coach. Even rarer that they can become a high performing team.

Teams just need help to get through their developmental stages. There is often someone that helps the team get going and keeps encouraging the team. This does not mean that the team can not learn to hold the space for each other.

5. Purpose is set for always

I think purposes develop and evolve over time. Especially with new initiatives you may need to revisit every three months or so to keep checking alignment (and perhaps there is a better direction/purpose).

Accept that as the initiative taker you are always much clearer on the purpose than the rest of the team. They need a bit more time.

Even if you have a long standing company purpose you may need to revisit it with your team every quarter or so to check if the team’s purpose is still serving the overall purpose well or that people may have changed their own personal direction.