What Is unFIX? — unFIX
Suppose you have an idea for a new product or business model (maybe in the Initiation Stage). You probably want to develop that idea with a Crew of people. That first team (in the Formation Stage) is most likely a Value Stream Crew. It is responsible for all streams of the Innovation Vortex.
The unFIX model does not prescribe specific practices for Crews. However, there is a strong preference for habit-forming practices augmented with gamification techniques.
When your idea progresses through the business lifecycle stages, once you get to the Stabilization or Acceleration stages, you might need multiple Crews (led by Captains) to grow the business. These various Crews together form a Base.
In a mature Base, maybe in the Crystallization and Expansion stages, you might need one or more Facilitation Crews that work across the different value streams or a Capability Crew that offers its talent to whoever needs it
To make architecture, infrastructure, or shared functions available to all Crews in a Base, you will want to consider installing a Platform Crew
To ensure a great customer experience (or partner experience) across the multiple value streams, you can decide to have an Experience Crew (or Acquisition Crew).
Fractal Organization Design: Scaling unFIX allows an organization to be self-similar at all scales.
The 10 Stages
Initiation: The business model is just an idea
Expedition: First experimentation, seeking problem/solution fit
Formation: Full commitment of a team to pursue the idea
Validation: Iterative experimentation, seeking product/market fit
Stabilization: Seeking business/market fit, preparing to scale up
Acceleration: Growth hacking and rapid scaling to a large market
Crystallization: Established in a market, switching to optimization
Expansion: Expansion to other territories and product variants
Conservation: All goals achieved; business model is in decline
Termination: Closure of the business, focus on other products
The Base fuels all recognition and belonging.
Many experts seem to agree that the size of the group should not be larger than roughly 150 people (with a nod to Dunbar's Number). The actual size of the Base(s) in your company may vary significantly, but when the group gets too large, social cohesion breaks down
Other names for the Base could be tribe, clan, or business unit. But I like the word base because it signals that this is the group that the Crews return to when they return from a mission
A Base acts as a fully self-supporting business
The core activity of the Base is a business model oriented around a customer's job and value proposition
most workers belong to precisely one Base
Within the Base, people can work on one or more Crews and one or more Forums.
There is no middle management in a Base. The only management is the Chiefs in the Governance Crew.
Structure: Crews — unFIX
A Crew is a team on a mission. (Product Team)
I like the word crew because it emphasizes that the team's work is collaborative, purposeful, and time-bound.
There's nothing wrong with the words team, squad, pod, or cell.
The best-performing Crews typically consist of between three to seven people (Two-Pizza Team)
The best-performing Crews are, to a large extent, autonomous and self-organizing. I say "to a large extent" because there are always constraints on self-organization imposed by a Governance Crew (aka the management team). (Whole Team)
Crews differ from ordinary teams in one crucial way: There is no line manager on a Crew! Nobody on the Crew decides on the others' wages or promotions. The film crew director is a leader, but she is not everyone's line manager
Management happens in the Base, outside the Crews.
Some of the Crew types are based on the work by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais in their book Team Topologies
We keep line management outside of the Crews to make it much easier to change them
Dynamic reteaming only works with managers in the Base, not in the Crews.
In the unFIX model, a Value Stream Crew has end-to-end responsibility for a value stream. — unFIX
The goal of end-to-end responsibility for a value stream is that there are no handovers of work items between teams
there might be dependencies on other teams but negotiating or breaking these dependencies is within the power of the Crew itself.
In the case of large products, the value stream of a Crew could be one specific Job-to-Be-Done, feature set, or customer domain out of many
Structure: Captains — unFIX
a Crew should have a representative to act as its proxy with other Crews, on Forums, or in meetings with the Chiefs.
A second issue is that it's often helpful to have one person with a decisive vote when a Crew ends up in a deadlock situation over a decision.
alternative terms could be champion, squad leader, team lead, or skipper.
In traditional companies, Captains might be picked and assigned by the Chiefs of the Base. In a modern, fast-moving scale-up, the Crews could have their own process for choosing their Captains
Experience Crew — unFIX
have a customer-facing "front team" whose goal is to optimize the entire customer journey and user experience in the case of touchpoints across multiple products and various channels. I call this the Experience Crew.
The Crew members do their actual work on various Value Stream Crews, but, as a team, they keep their focus on integration and fluid processes that cut across more than one product or service.
You could say that the Experience Crew is a special case of a Facilitation Crew
Governance Crew — unFIX
The Governance Crew is usually the only one signing contracts with employees, customers, vendors, and partners
To keep a high level of agility and versatility, it is in the interest of the Base that the Governance Crew delegates as much as possible. That's why I prefer to use the word governance for this team rather than leadership or management. The Governance Crew sets the rules of the game. But the game is played by everyone else in the Base.
Structure: Chiefs — unFIX
the Chiefs in the Governance Crew are the only managers in a Base, which means they are commonly the only ones with the power of contracting, compensation, incentives, and promotions
everyone in the Base has a Chief as their manager, and the Chiefs in their Governance Crew have only a limited span of control
Finally, the Base will have to split when it grows too large. Scale is achieved by dividing work horizontally across Bases, not by adding managers vertically across layers.
no middle managers report to the Chiefs
Structure: Forums — unFIX
Operating with multiple autonomous Crews is a suboptimal organization when they don't coordinate their work.
Chapters, guilds, user groups, community of practice, technology boards, and worker councils are examples of collaboration across team borders. I like using the word Forum because it signals that talking and decision-making are the main activities in these groups.
In some cases, a Forum is just a way for people with similar skills and functions to share experiences and prevent re-inventing the wheel. In other cases, a Forum is there to impose rules, possibly even with sanctions for misbehaviors
Forums don't do actual work on value streams. That's why Facilitation Crews, Experience Crews, and Acquisition Crews are not Forums.
I distinguish four kinds of Forums: Functional Forum; Technical Forum; Geographic Forum; Market Forum
Innovation Vortex — unFIX
The seven streams of the Innovation Vortex: Contextualize (Focus); Empathize (Discover); Synthesize (Define); Hypothesize (Ideate); Externalize (Build); Sensitize (Test); Systematize (Learn)
While Design Thinking specializes in discovering the needs of customers by empathizing with them, understanding their frustrations and desires, and generating ideas for better solutions, the Lean Startup method excels at testing the generated ideas, in the simplest possible ways, and validating that a solution works and solves a problem. The Innovation Vortex is a merger of both approaches and a crucial element of versatile organization design.