Three essential characteristics of a self-managed team:

1. Clarity of purpose – what are we here to do?

2. Measures which relate to purpose – how well do we do it?

3. Freedom to experiment with method – how can we improve?

Measurement is central to all three.

Measures should always relate to purpose.

Measures should be built into method.

Measures are the means for learning and improvement.

‘Self-managed teams’ was a fad in the Nineties. Most of what went on was pretence. The fact of the matter is front-line teams need managers. Not to manage activity and people, as is the norm, but to take responsibility for leading the team in creating value for customers. The first level of management in Vanguard design is focused on the quality of today’s service.

Do self-managed teams need managers?