Building an agile team structure to increase team efficacy

Building an agile team structure to increase team efficacy

“Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

In this quotation, Bruce Lee famously espoused the benefits of flexibility in both mind and body. Though we know him best for his physical prowess, Lee’s quotation doesn’t only apply to martial arts.

LC Studio, we’ve embraced a version of this philosophy to manage the diverse demands that ebb and flow from across the college.

Flexible workflow within LC Studio

LC Studio is a group that works with teams across the college, including Academic Centres, Service Centres, LC Extension and The Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation (CTLI) to support, create, and enhance projects through consultation, multimedia, design, writing, editing, formatting and more.

And, with such a diverse team network as CTLI, work demands expand and contract at a dizzying pace.

To accommodate this, LC Studio utilizes an agile model that allows us to draw talent where and when it’s needed. Fittingly, it’s called a pool – or blended – model.

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Traditional vs. Blended Model

The traditional model for teams is much like the fixed buildings that typically house them. There is a set amount of room, allowing for a set amount of work, and for teams with a consistent demand, this stability is often necessary.

However, LC Studio, with the inconsistent demands on our time and energy, the standard workflow model tends to jar our team between overwork (risking burnout) and underwork (causing inefficiencies).

Instead, LC Studio operates on a blended model, that is, it draws from a diverse pool of individuals with unique skill sets wherever they are (be it remote or in-person) and whenever they’re needed (per project based or a set contract period).

Who is a part of LC Studio?

LC Studio is a mixture of individuals, including:

  • Core, in-house members
  • Part-time and contract employees

This diversity gives our team a unique combination of “flex and form” based on current project needs while still allowing for stable planning amidst a high-flex system.

The freedom of contract and casual

Not only does the system’s flex allow LC Studio to be more agile in project funding, time commitments and more, but its highly flexible nature also frees team members to schedule and perform tasks in ways that work best for them.

A solid, in-house core team

Too much flexibility, however, can cause its own problems – after all, water still needs a vessel to hold its shape, otherwise it disperses! With our core team of about five or six members, we ensure a certain level of capacity, and maintain sufficient structure to sustain consistency in service and expertise.

In a nutshell, the blended model is durable enough to support individual team members, but flexible enough to accommodate workflow demands as they come.

Challenges of the blended model

Any time we work outside standard, better-recognized systems, new challenges inevitably surface. So, as we’ve embraced a more flexible way of scheduling workflow, we’ve had (and continue to have) our fair share of growing pains.

Some of the challenges of the blended model include:

  1. Creating effective internal infrastructure – onboarding & orientation materials, support structures, etc., to support both permanent and casual team members
  2. Maintaining consistency and connection – across a hybrid team where most team members are remote
  3. Promoting community and collaboration – across team members from around LC Studio and beyond
  4. Ability to be proactive – in anticipating workload demands (with so many on contract, it adds significant time and processing as project requests come up)

Despite these challenges, transitioning to the blended model is creating far-reaching benefits!

Benefits of the blended model

While there are still kinks to iron out, the benefits of this model for LC Studio seem to be well worth the effort.

Finding our flow

The most obvious benefit we’ve touched on above: this model allows us to expand and contract with workflow requirements. It supports all team members, helping to stave off burnout and ensure every project we touch is as effective and efficient as possible.

A larger, teeming pool of talent

Expanding the pool of talent means we can include more niched and highly skilled team members. Normally, those who might be unaffordable or unavailable to employ full-time suddenly become accessible for set projects, boosting quality and creativity.

Meeting the demands of today’s workforce

Because flexibility seems key in retaining employees, this model aligns with the current job market and gives employees what they’re looking for. So, those who wish to work remotely, in person, or a mixture of both (hybrid) can do so – helping to keep the college vital in today’s job market.

Better budgeting

From a management perspective, a flexible team allows for better project budgeting and operations, meaning talents are well-compensated, but utilized efficiently. This helps us to continue to employ highly skilled people and budget more effectively.

A happy, high-flex workforce

LC Studio strives to support CTLI in the most dynamic ways possible. To achieve this, our team needs to operate from an agile system where every individual feels empowered and able to do their best work. That’s why we use the blended model, and we’re excited to see what “shape” this system continues to take.

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