I’ve been trying to get delegation poker on board for a while. Finally after attending a training of Management 3.0 where I had a chance to try it in real life setting with other ppl I got a full understanding on how to facilitate it. (Here’s how to do it.)

Recently I did delegation poker with my team to figure out what’s our take on a few responsibilities within a team and to get agreements & alignment about them.

It turned out to be one of the most talkative retrospectives we’ve got so far. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean we don’t talk. But we’re pretty young team that till learns how to work together. So delegation poker felt like a very good way to trigger a conversation and reveal our point of view on each subject. We’ve spent the whole hour “playing” delegation poker and talking.

There were two topics that I wanted to cover with a team. Hiring and prioritizing backlog items. We started from hiring and as I started to explain the context it turned out that we have two questions to answer:

  • Who is responsible for decision if we need to hire someone and what sort of person we should hire?
  • Who is responsible for making a decision if we hire a candidate we’ve just interviewed?

It turned out it was pretty useful to talk and agree on the context of the poker with the team as team had some questions and made very good suggestions to break the topic down. We’ve got a bit of a difference of opinions but in both cases we relatively quickly agreed that the manager makes the decision but should consult the team beforehand.

Second question – who is responsible for prioritizing the items we’re going to work on next (think sth like sprint backlog, we work sort of “Kanban”) was a bit more all over the place varying from 1 (manager organizes the backlog and lets the team know) to 5 (manager should advise and team will prioritize).

(I know that for some companies it may seem like it should be product owner who prioritizes the backlog but we’re building an API that is part of a bigger Product Backlog and manager is more like technical lead and it’s tech lead who’s accountable for prioritizing the backlog and getting the API’s done in the right order, at least in the eyes of the company).

We’ve started the discussion from comparing the edge cases and ended up agreeing on option 4 (the team and manager agree on how the backlog should be prioritized).

The backlog question shown us that what the team is ready to do, and what manager’s expectations are. In the end we worked out some sort of middle ground keeping in mind that we’ll strive to shift more responsibility towards giving more power to the team and manager staying on the side to advise.

All at all it turned out to be pretty good conversation and really nice experience. We set up few norms and wrote them down on delegation board that’s visible on our confluence page. I think I’m going to hang it in the team space too so that we can see and remember our decisions.

Picture source: https://management30.com/practice/delegation-poker/



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