Management 3.0 Principles – Connected to Practices

agile, blog, management30

I was 14 years old when we went on a trip with our class for a few days. The age where you are not always listening to the teachers and trying to challenge them. The usual bad behavior. Throwing with paper, making flamethrowers of spray cans, making noise, you know, the usual stuff. At one moment, the teachers were really done with it, and everyone had to come down. They told us to empty our air mattresses, pack our stuff, etc. I am not saying that I didn’t do anything, but I definitely did not do something bad that we had to pack our stuff, in my opinion! What happened? I refused. I was accused of something I didn’t do. It was not fair! 

Through the years, I learned that fairness, or being treated fairly, is very important to me. I will be very upset whenever I feel I am not treated fairly. Fairness is a very important principle for me.

What are principles?

Oxford Languages definition: a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or a chain of reasoning.

Many decisions I made in life are based on the principle that I wanted to be treated fairly. 

I have principles, but I know you also have principles that are important to you. We all have principles, as many organizations have principles. 

Principles are important; they should guide us in things we do, help us make decisions, and help us to be a good leader. Principles will not change much over time. 

I am almost 50 years old; I know I don’t look that old, but the fairness principle has not changed during all those years. It helped me but also caused some problems. Having a discussion with airport security was not a wise decision. 

The principle of fairness is still important to me, but how I behave and how I act has changed over time. Look at the example of airport security; I don’t start a discussion with security officers anymore. 

Management 3.0 also has principles. Five principles that we believe are the foundation of modern Agile Leadership. Everything you should do as an Agile Leader is based on one or more of those principles. 

If you attended the Management 3.0 Foundation workshop, you learned about the principles. I’m not sure if you can still remember them. 

The five principles are:

  1. Engaging People and their Interactions
  2. Improving the System
  3. Helping to Delight all Clients
  4. Managing the System, not the People
  5. Co-creating Work

When I learned about these principles many years ago, I nodded my head. Sure, it makes sense. However, through the years, I learned more about the principles and ideas and how they can help you. Let me walk you through the five principles and make them practical.

Engaging People and Their Interaction

I always took this principle for granted until I started thinking about the word engaging. What does engaging mean in this sentence? Take a few seconds for yourself; what does this sentence mean? 

I also could say encourage people to communicate. Maybe this clicks more with you? It did, at least for me. This is something I can understand and also definitely believe in.

As a leader, I consider it often my task just to get people to communicate with each other. Many, many years ago, I did a workshop about project management. We had to write down the reasons why projects fail. Guess what was in the top three? Communication. Did this change in all those years? No, I still believe that communication is often the reason things fail.

Bringing people together and encouraging them to communicate is key. You don’t need to solve their problems or tell them what to do; just get people in one room and get them to communicate.

When I look at many of the Management 3.0 practices, most of them are there to start a conversation. To get the communication started or to make the communication more valuable for everyone.

Here are just some examples:

  • ImprovCards, cards with images that you can use to ask people how they feel about something or tell a story about something that happened to them;
  • Moving Motivators, a great example of getting communication started to learn about what drives people at work;
  • The Change Management Game is one of the most underrated practices—a must-have tool for every change agent to discuss how to drive change.

Improving the System

The second principle is Improving the System. This is a tricky principle, as it has two components. Improving and System. Let’s first focus on the word system.

System refers to the system thinking. A very important view: Management 3.0 acknowledges that organizations are complex adaptive systems. A complex adaptive system is a system of many components that interact with one another and can change behavior but is not always predictable. An example is the group of pupils that I talked about at the beginning of this blog post. They could not predict that I would refuse, which also influenced other pupils. Also, action and reaction are often not directly connected in complex adaptive systems. People wrote many (complex) books about complex adaptive systems.

The first word of this principle is Improving. Many frameworks and models have the principle of improving or something similar. The world is changing faster and faster; we need to keep improving to be able to keep creating value. If an organization does not improve, it will become obsolete in the end. 

Combing the words makes the principal strong. We want to keep improving, but we also understand organizations are systems where there is not always a link between action and reaction. To improve, we must try things, experiment, and learn. Learning from the experiments and understanding our actions can have unexpected results.

Management 3.0 has practices that link to this principle. For example:

  • Connection Circles is a practice that can help you to understand the connections between different components in a system and how they influence each other;
  • The Experiment Hypothesis helps you define experiments and also think about what you want to learn and how to measure the results of the experiment;
  • Using the Happiness Door to quickly collect feedback from a meeting and learn how happy people are when they leave the meeting.

Helping to Delight All Clients

This principle is about doing what you can do to give clients joy. It is everyone’s responsibility to help delight all clients. 

In this principle, the word clients is used in a broad sense. Clients are not just the people paying for the value you create. Clients can also be the team that needs to support the product you create or the marketing team that needs to promote the value you create. Clients are everyone linked to your team or organization. 

The principal also says: helping. You will do your best to help. By giving your knowledge, time, available materials, etc., you will help. Unfortunately, sometimes, we cannot succeed in making a client happy. However, we will do our best to help them. Also, making one client happy can make another client less happy. If, for example, the security department makes the security officer happy, I know that many users will complain about all the security restrictions.

Again, different practices support this principle:

  • You can use the Scoreboard Index to define indicators to get insights into how happy clients are and how they become happier (or unhappier) over time;
  • Your team members are also clients; you can use the 12 Steps to Happiness to help them feel happy;
  • The feedback wrap is also a great way to collect feedback from your clients. You can teach them about the feedback wrap or use a form to guide them through it.

Managing the System, not the People

Last year, I worked in a team where people had to update a weekly report to manage team dependencies. The report was created before I joined the team. Every week, I had to ask people to fill in the report, and still, they did not always fill in the report. It was terrible, and I realized that I was managing people at one moment! I was managing people, and if something is very tiresome, hard to do, or demotivating, it is managing people. I don’t want to manage people. Additionally, people got annoyed by me that I had to ask them every week to update the report. I decided to stop using the report. Life became so much better.

Guess what happened after a few months? They asked me if I could set up something for them to manage dependencies. I said no, you develop a system yourself, and I will help and support you where needed. They did, and I only set up a system to get automatic notifications of new entries.

As a leader, you want to create a system where people can make their own decisions, take responsibility for their work, know what is expected from them, etc. Managing people is hard work and tiresome. As a leader, it will also make you the weakest link in the organization. Focus on creating an environment where people can manage themselves and don’t need you anymore to do their work.

To create this system, you can use the following practices:

  • Delegation Poker. One of the most well-known practices. Create clarity in what decisions a team can make themselves or where you, as a leader, would like to make the decision for whatever reason;
  • Objective Key-Results to create clarity to make sure teams and employees know what is expected of them so you don’t need to tell them every day;
  • 360-dinner to create an environment where team members can give feedback to each other instead of the manager always giving the feedback.

Co-creating Work

I already talked about complex adaptive systems; I mentioned that the world is changing faster daily. An individual can come up with a great idea in this complex and fast-changing world, but to make it happen, you need to work together. This principle is all about teamwork, working together in a team but also working together with leaders and managers. 

As a leader, you have certain skills that some team members lack. Also, team members have skills you don’t have as a leader. Depending on your organization, you and your team depend on other teams to complete the work. Ultimately, we all need to work together in an organization to create the value we need to create for our clients.

Acting as a traditional manager, telling the teams what to do, and not participating will not help anyone. Also, not delegating work to the team and not doing it yourself will not help anyone. As a leader, you are, in that sense, equal to the team members; you need to work together. You need to create a system where teams can easily help each other. 

It often also depends on the culture and how easy this is for your organization. In the Netherlands, for example, we don’t care much about hierarchy and expect everyone to contribute to create value.

Management 3.0 has practices to support the principle of Co-creating work:

  • Use the Team Agreement Canvas to set expectations on how to work as a team;
  • Set up business guilds to solve certain problems. Create a network organization in your hierarchical organization;
  • Create a Team Competency Matrix to get insights into who can help you when you have a certain problem.


You maybe heard the five principles of Management 3.0 before but, just like me, took them for granted. In this blog post, I shared the ideas behind these principles. What do they really mean, and how do they connect to some of the practices of Management 3.0? Principles are strong and won’t change much over time. 

You can use any leadership practice you want. There is more in this world than Management 3.0. 

But, I do want to challenge you to link them to the principles of Management 3.0. Are they supporting modern Agile Leadership, or are they supporting an old traditional management style?


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