The balance between alignment and autonomy is a key factor for a team’s success. The stronger the alignment, the better teams understand their organization's goals, and the more autonomous teams can afford to be. Finding the right balance is hard enough, but in the dynamic environment of digital transformation, with the challenges of scaling and growth, this task becomes even more difficult.
According to Okta's latest “Businesses at Work” study, the average company uses 89 apps - a 24 percent increase since 2016 - and organizations with over 2,000 employees use on average 187 apps. More than ever before, information about work is more distributed and harder to find.
Many leaders assume that consolidation and standardization by having fewer applications can solve these problems. But when teams are forced to give up tools that help them do their work the best, it's a dramatic break in team autonomy and a guarantee for frustrated and dissatisfied employees.
That's why Atlassian is developing Atlas, a new software solution that is the first teamwork directory that aims to connect all the dots across teams, applications and work. Atlas equips teams with a common vocabulary for open communication and a shared understanding of what is happening at work:
- What are we doing and why?
- How is it progressing?
- Who is working on it?
These three simple questions are hard to answer if you don't know who to turn to or where to look. Atlas is designed to enable every team to communicate openly and bring context to their work - an important prerequisite for cross-cutting alignment and empowerment through autonomy.
What are we doing and why?
Achieving alignment starts with a shared understanding of what teams do and why. Atlas gives each project a homepage that provides direct context.
From this starting point, a user can immediately see what the project is about and how the success of a project is defined. Project and target homepages can be enriched with so-called smart links, which enable the integration of documents from popular content tools such as Loom, Google Docs, Figma and of course Confluence.
A transparent purpose
It is motivating when everyone involved can see how a team's work contributes to the bigger picture. Every project in Atlas can be linked to a purpose, so the team can relate their work to real results.
Goals are valuable for managers who need to take a bird's eye view, while the details of an individual project are important for stakeholders and other people directly or indirectly involved. In Atlas, each user can see things from the perspective that is relevant to them, without duplicating work.
A link to the place of work
Atlas aims to provide different teams with a common vocabulary to talk about work, and visibility of how that work is linked to common goals. When there is strong alignment, teams can use the software that works best for them. Smart links bring the work with these tools to the surface in Atlas.
Smart Links make it possible to integrate live previews and updates on projects and targets. Just insert a link to any project, destination or keyword in Atlas to display this info as a preview map or embedding.
How are things progressing?
In addition, Atlas should help reduce the need for face-to-face meetings. The keyword is asynchronous communication. Everyone involved can write and read updates when they have time. Owners are automatically reminded to update their content (weekly for projects, monthly for goals). Every Monday, Atlas issues a personalized summary of the projects and goals to users.
Atlas limits status updates to 280 characters. This is intended to encourage owners to communicate in a better and a more concise and focused way. Teams can also embed videos and images enrich the updates even more.
More efficient ways to stay informed
In addition to the Atlas feed at the start of the week, users receive a personalized overview directly via email, Slack or MS Teams.
It's even possible to link projects and goals to specific Slack channels to ensure that all stakeholders receive regular updates. With updates that are truly compact and meaningful, Atlas promotes alignment across teams.
Who's working on it?
Every company has some kind of employee directory. But traditional employee directories only provide a top-down view of the structure of the company. That might be nice for creating org charts, but useless when it comes to moving day-to-day work forward. Directories not linked to work, cannot reflect the reality of collaboration.
Seeing the big picture
Cross-functional collaboration between departments and organizational units is more prevalent today than ever before. This involves self-organized cross-functional teams forming together to work on projects. For this to be successful, it must be visible who is reporting to whom, which teams the people belong to and what these teams are working on.
In Atlas, for each project or goal, there is transparency as to which team is involved. And since a team writes updates every week, this is an accurate, up-to-date representation of the project and the team composition.
Each person has their own profile that provides compact information about who they are, what they are working on and where they stand in the company. Atlas synchronizes with popular identity providers such as Okta.
A look at how the teams work together
With Atlas, there is not only a top-down view of the company, but also bottom-up transparency about the self-formed teams with separate team profile pages.
The team profiles provide not only an combined view of who is part of the team, but also offer contextual information about what the team is currently working on and where this work is taking place.
These profiles are integrated into the Atlassian products that the teams use to get their work done. Whether a user needs contextual information about who "owns" a Jira task or wants to @mention a team in Confluence, Atlas connects all the dots.
Furthermore, Atlas personalizes team profiles by allowing them to write about their unique skills and interests. There will also soon be a holistic view of all updates, projects, goals an people related to it in Atlas, for those who want to know more about a topic,
This is Atlas, the new teamwork directory that aims to bring teams, apps and work together in one system. At the moment, Atlas is in the beta stage and completely free of charge. As soon as there is more news on this, we will let you know!
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