VSHN’s Culture - Frequently Asked Questions

This page is a collection of questions and answers around how VSHN works, our culture. Make sure to read VSHN’s Culture first, to have some context. To add a new question, you can open a Merge Request by clicking the Edit-Button in the top right, add the question at the end, and assign it to a member of Management (better process to be defined later).

Practical, Real Questions

  1. What if I just want to do my operational work (engineering stuff for example)?

    As long as your team fulfills their purpose and responsibilities, and organizational issues are addressed in a timely manner, that can be perfectly fine. The key is to have people (for instance, defined roles like a Team Facilitator) who care about the most important things. They will involve you in finding solutions and decision-making, and you will need to participate to the best of your abilities. This requires some basic understanding of how VSHN works, which isn’t optional.
    Read more on Leadership and Decision Making.

  2. We agreed to a problem, prioritized it in our team, and nothing has happened for months. What’s going on?

    This is most likely an issue of lack of Leadership. Either the person responsible for driving the topic forward is blocked or struggling to do so, or isn’t taking action, or it’s unclear who is responsible and "in the lead". Bring up the issue again in the team, find out who is currently driving the topic or define it. Remember to check in at short intervals to see if progress is being made.

  3. I don’t like a proposal to a problem that was presented to me. What can I do now?

    Work together to understand why you don’t like it. It’s about identifying potential risks for the organization that we should avoid, or finding ways to improve the proposal right now. If it’s really just your personal preference, put away your ego and think in the bigger picture, commit to trying the proposal for a while. You might change your opinion. Personal preferences or opinions alone aren’t directly relevant, and they can’t block progress. Consent isn’t about making it perfect for everyone.

  4. Management always says that they don’t decide. What does that mean?

    The Management adheres to our belief that there are no bosses who decide. This means that they lead major topics at VSHN, involve people who would be affected by decisions, and make decisions based on reasoned arguments, driving things forward until we find out it’s a bad idea. This implies you can’t go to Management to request an A/B decision or ask them to sign something off. However, they can help you come to a decision, together. Often, this situation is a symptom of missing leadership in your team, where needed decisions aren’t being made and issues escalate to Management.

  5. What if we don’t have time in our team to fix our organization?

    The short answer is: make time for it. A Semi-Autonomous Team is responsible for their operational work, planning and coordinating the work, and governance (mainly, making agreements on how you work and how you organize yourself). It can work just fine if everyone does a bit of everything, but we have found that it’s generally more effective to have defined roles in the team that focus on specific topics, such as a Product Owner, Scrum Master, Facilitator, Tech Lead, etc. Especially, it’s the Facilitator’s job to help the team prioritize work and create enough slack to take care of the meta-work as well.

  6. I see a problem that we should take care about, but where do I start?

    It starts with you: Bring up the issue within the team, strive for a common understanding, and document it. If it’s urgent and impeding your work, mention it in the daily stand-up and ask for help. If it’s more related to organizational processes, it might be better discussed in a retrospective. In any case, the Team Facilitator or Scrum Master should be able to guide you on what to do next.

  7. If anyone can lead, what if no one leads?

    In short: That’s a big risk and that’s not acceptable. At this point, it’s the role of the Delegator (see Semi-Autonomous Team) to notice this and intervene. However, this does not mean that the Delegator will start leading your team, but rather that they should listen, advise, support, and enable your team to resolve this fundamental issue - your lack of leadership. The specific approach will depend on the situation.
    Read more See here.