Agile and Dispatch

What To Do When Everyone Knows What To Do

What to do When Everyone Knows What to do

23 March 2016

As we were slowly weaving agile methods into our existing business practices (getting everyone ready for the full switch to Agile MSP) there was a little bit of grumbling and pushback. It’s important to monitor pain points during any organization-wide change, and, after listening to the team and thinking about how to break through the doldrums, we knew exactly what to do. We demolished the existing organizational structure and installed a flat structure. We consolidated or completely threw out obsolete roles and responsibilities, and we empowered our team members to take control of the work they do.

That’s not a flowery way of saying, “We loaded them down with more bureaucratic responsibilities.” What we did to galvanize everyone into implementing agile was really as simple as giving them the power to choose their work. We eliminated the role of dispatcher.

One of the driving phrases you hear repeated at The Agile MSP is “you can’t push rope.” Moving the work that comes in as tickets is easier and more efficient when it’s pulled by the person or group that is most enthusiastic about taking care of it, rather than being pushed upon the “resource” judged by a dispatcher to be both capable enough and available to take it on. When our techs assemble for a stand-up, they take the tickets they judge to be best for them, and everyone works together to make sure the workload is evenly distributed.

Thanks to the accountability built into our daily stand-ups, traffic management is rarely necessary at The Agile MSP. However, we all occasionally make mistakes when we’re grabbing tickets, and that means techs sometimes bite off more than they can chew or take on less than they’re capable of handling. Client crises also mean quickly regrouping and getting the right technicians putting out fires. One of our technicians is given the ancillary responsibility of traffic manager. When a team member isn’t carrying a balanced load, or if they’re taking a much longer time on a ticket than a tech with more experience in a particular area might, the traffic manager can help even out the workload.

A hard and fast change like eliminating dispatch was the catalyst for enthusiasm and better communication surrounding agile within our practice. Changing the culture of an office can be a slow, painful process, but even one thoughtful modification in the right place, at the right time, can make all the difference in achieving the end that you’re all working for.

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