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The DNA of Ekipa is built on the following characteristics:
Culture and Values at Ekipa
Ekipa is a 100% self-managed organization without any hierarchy. Everybody is an owner and everybody shares in our success and income. Everybody works on the things he wants to contribute and we don’t have fixed job descriptions. We co-work with our customers to help them bring entrepreneurship, innovation, and agility to their organization. Together, we create the company we want Ekipa to be and we create better lives for ourselves and the people we serve. We’re co-workers.
- People are systematically considered to be good (reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent).
- We’re all creative, thoughtful, trustworthy adults, capable of making important decisions.
- We’re all accountable and responsible for our decisions and actions. Integrity: our word is our bond.
- People are fallible, we make mistakes.
- We want to use our talents and skills to make a positive contribution to the organization and the world.
- We bring positivity, play, joy, and appreciation to our workplace.
- We relate to one another with an assumption of positive intent.
- Until we are proven wrong, trusting coworkers is our default means of engagement.
- Freedom and accountability are two sides of the same coin.
Information and decision making
- All business information is open to all.
- Every one of us is able to handle difficult and sensitive news.
- We believe in the power of collective intelligence. Nobody is as smart as everybody. Therefore all decisions will be made with the “advice process”.
Responsibility and accountability
- We each have full responsibility for the organization. If we sense that something needs to happen, we have a duty to address it. It’s not acceptable to limit our concern to the remit of roles.
- Everyone must be comfortable with holding others accountable to their commitments through feedback and respectful confrontation.
- We are a profit-making company. As we all share in the profits, we all have a responsibility to find the right balance between ‘putting money in our own pockets’ and ‘making a profit for the company’.
- Every problem is an invitation to learn and grow.
- Failure is always a possibility if we strive for our purpose. We discuss our failures openly and learn from them. Hiding or neglecting to learn from failure is unacceptable.
- Feedback and respectful confrontation are gifts we share to help one another grow.
- We focus on strengths more than weaknesses, on opportunities more than on problems.
Co-workers are responsible for their own learning; you decide what training, books or other forms you need to buy; if needed, use the advice process to decide. You are also responsible for spending your time wisely; making learning a (visible) part of your weekly goals is appreciated.
In every first week of the month we will have a monthly Skills lab and Sharing session in which you share what you have learned with your co-workers and train others in new approaches, tools and techniques.
Time is all we have in life. We aim to be as productive as possible while we work. We recognize that the only thing that counts is outcomes. We don’t get to work because we must work 9-5. We get to work to pursue our goals. One of the most important learning curves is becoming more effective, working on things that have the biggest impact on the outcomes. Many books and training have been developed about this topic.
All power is with the team. There is no formal hierarchy, we abandon the traditional system. There are no bosses to turn to. Teams decide what they focus on, how they achieve outcomes and how they solve problems.
Roles are fluid. We have no job descriptions. Every co-worker is free to create, modify or remove roles. If you think something adds value to your team’s purpose, you own it and move it forward. Once a week, we organize an overall team retrospective. During this event, the teams discuss the current roles and propose additions, improvements, modifications.
Decisions are made based on the ‘advice process’. If you recognize a decision has to be made, you own that decision. We assume you can make most of the decisions by yourself. If you need the help of other co-workers, ask them for advice, make your decision and move on.
The advice process
There are a number of steps in the advice process:
- Someone notices a problem or opportunity and takes the initiative, or alerts someone better placed to do so.
- Prior to a proposal, the decision-maker may seek input to sound out perspectives before proposing action.
- The initiator makes a proposal and seeks advice from those affected or those with expertise.
- Taking this advice into account, the decision-maker decides on an action and informs those who have given advice.
The team decision process
If the decision maker can’t reach a decision on his own to resolve important issues, a team meeting is organized with the following process:
- Team appoints facilitator
- Agenda and topics selected based on current issues
- Proposals for resolution are shared
- Review, improve and refine proposals
- Group makes a decision. Not consensus. Accepted is solution without anyone having a principled objection.
The facilitator can’t make any statement suggestions or decision.
You can’t veto a solution just because you think another (or your own) solution is better.
The solution can be revisited at any point if new information is available.
If the team gets stuck, you can ask for an external facilitator
We organize work in teams and chapters. Teams work for a specific customer. Chapters work for an internal purpose, to grow Ekipa. At the beginning of each quarter, we set the top 2-5 objectives as a company (what do we want to accomplish as a company in the next 90 days). From the company objectives, we decide what chapters we need. Each chapter creates their own OKR’s (Objectives Key results).
Each new team member has a ‘peer coach’. The coach helps the new co-worker to develop a personal development plan as well as a 90 day plan to get ‘onboarded’. The Personal development plan is filled and focuses on the things the co-worker needs to develop and learn. The peer coach will establish a meeting rhythm with the co-worker to follow up on both plans.
To execute work, team(s) and chapters hold regular alignment meetings. All meetings are Mandatory; it’s beneficial for team alignment. The coaching teams on the client side will have their own meeting cadence. We have found scrum to work well. In scrum, we have the following meetings:
- Sprint planning: typically monday morning to decide what will be done during the week. Each team member creates or ‘takes’ tickets (from a Trello board).
- Daily meeting: every day, we do a 5-15 minute skype call to align on 3 questions: what have you done yesterday, what are you working on today, do you have any ‘stucks’?
- Demo: typically on friday afternoon; team members share what they have accomplished during the week
- Retrospective: after the demo, people share what they believe went well or could be improved in the teamwork, process.
- It’s impossible to change other people. We can only change ourselves.
- We take ownership for our thoughts, beliefs, words and actions.
- We don’t spread rumors. We don’t talk behind someone’s back.
- We resolve disagreement one-on-one and don’t drag other people into the problem.
- We don’t blame others. When we feel like blaming, we take it as an invitation to reflect on how we might be part of the problem (and the solution).
If two co-workers have a conflict, there is nobody but yourselves to resolve the conflict. To reach a resolution, the following conflict resolution process is followed:
- the two co-workers sit together, discuss the conflict and try to find a resolution.
- if that doesn’t work, you seek advice from 1 trusted colleague
- if that doesn’t work, they elect a panel to help resolve it
- the CEO is asked to resolve it
In all cases, you are expected to keep the information to yourselves and not seek others to be on your side. Nobody should spread the information.
If you find it hard to open up to someone you have a conflict with, use the following three topics in your conversation with the person:
- Here is how I feel…
- Here is what I need…
- What do you need?
We are a commercial company; our goal is to make profit. Teams are 100% responsible for generating profit. All financial information is open and accessible to everyone. Teams make informed decisions based on the financial information available.
At the end of each year, 10 % of the profits will be shared with the team(s). Teams decide themselves how to distribute the profit between themselves.
Our salaries and other compensations are based on the Ekipa salary system. In all situations where you need to spend company money, you do so with caution; frugality and savings are crucial to our company.
When coaching customers, we adhere to strong Agile principles. Our mission is to move customers to a new way of working, not to stick with what they’ve been doing before. That sometimes creates friction and that’s ok. When you need to push, push. Use the following principles to decide when to push:
- Ekipa changes how organisations work, think and act. We don’t solve your problems with waterfall projects running behind schedule (we teach and coach agile, this will help with your delivery medium and long term, not short term)
- Always think more about products and less about projects. Even better, #noprojects! As long as there are projects, shuffling of team members and deadlines, you are not bringing the optimal benefits of Agile.
- Move at the right speed If clients are in a hurry and want you to go faster, tell them the risks! If they move to slow, try to push the right buttons to make them move faster.
- Use consistent terminology When clients want to set up Tribes in IT, tell them to stop and instead set up tribes across the business. Teams are functional groups of people. Squads are cross-departmental teams. Tribes are collections of squads.
- Always create actual value when coaching When teaching teams, use their real work, not dummy work. Our ultimate goal is to bring business value; that means more happy clients (of our client), more profit, more impact in the market. Coaching teams is a means to that end. Always keep your eyes on the ultimate value you must bring.
- Agile coaches should do (sprint) plans (etc) too! Create, update and communicate your coaching plans to the customer.
- Agile = dedicated, cross-functional teams only. If stuck in silos, keep pushing to move towards cross functional, stable teams.
- Clients must master Agile at the team level before they try to scale!
- Reject coaching under/overloads If clients want you to go from 2 squads to 5, reject them and tell them to hire more coaches. If you are underutilized, ask for more.