I keep seeing a lot of people around me that, with good intentions, mix self-organized and self-managed characteristics of an Agile Team.

How I see things?

First of all, if you like systems thinking, then you can relate to my opinion that, from this perspective, the Goal of an Agile Team is to get work out of their system as fast as possible.

But how does the work gets to the team?

In most of the case, it comes from another system, the Organization itself, with the use of Management. In a Lean-Agile Organization, that is a Product Management, in other cases is pure management.

self-organized team
Systems of work

Self-Organized Team

From my understanding, a self-organized team is a team that organizes itself so that the flow of work from To do  to Done is optimized at maximum. This means that such a team develops techniques to do the work in an efficient way, creates custom processes to manage their flow, commits to agreements that govern the team dynamics, experiment to find the next best technique or process, challenges the agreements to make them more natural with less rules, eliminate bottlenecks and impediments within the system and (re)organize themselves daily having the flow of value in mind.

The characteristic of being self-organized for a team refers to the ability of the team members to organize themselves so that they can get work out of their system as fast as possible. *”Possible” is very important here, as it means that compromising on quality to be fast is not possible*

Self-Managed Team

When we talk about a self-managed team, then the focus shifts outside of their system. We are talking now about the management system (ideally product management). This means that a team can manage their work on their own. Such a team has an organizational system in which, bottom-up, they can decide how and where to support (e.g. OKRs), such a team has a Vision and a Mission that they create, understand and are commit to follow.
A self-managed team does not confuses roles in the team with the people. Roles are interchangeable, just like a hat you put on, this team knows what really makes them powerful and act accordingly having in mind the well being of their product.

The characteristic of being self-managed for a team refers to the ability of the team members to manage their work so that the Vision of their product is followed.

Conclusion

Self-Organized for a team means that Operational excellence is to be achieved. Self-managed for a team means that the Strategy and Tactics are also under their power to influence their journey towards greatness. And, why not, the Culture!

It’s Self-Organized and Self-Managed, not versus.

What do you think?