Also known as Small Business Units (SBU), Autonomous Business Units are power teams of 5-20 people who work as a team to handle quality management challenges and improvements.
In a sense, this team acts as a dedicated think tank of great minds, who work together to come up with ideas that help fast-track your company’s success. The units share common improvement goals, and are able to offer individual contributions. But essentially, acting within an autonomous group that thinks as a team, decisions are made together.
It is possible to have more than one unit working in a company or a single unit that is tasked with meeting quality goals across the board. For instance, a SBU for each department (sales, marketing and operations) can be just as effective as a larger unit that focuses on improvement measures. Through a facilitated approach that lies in understanding and addressing key points and challenges, the unit aims to provide input and solutions to quality management challenges, enabling decisions to be made in a fair, thought-driven manner.
Power Teams – The Ultimate Quality Management Resource?
By considering how each member of the team would improve the business if they were in charge, a broad-based process is set into motion. While teams can be as unique as you choose, SBUs should have the following traits to be truly useful:
- Totally Inclusive – the units can be formed and run by any employees, with no exclusion practices that could render the unit impartial or biased.
- Autonomous – the team works together to make its own decisions, rather than toeing an official line (this does not mean that goals do not remain aligned to company policy).
- Circle of Influence – the unit is able to deal with issues within their influence, both individually and as a team.
- Problem Solving – problems are approached and dealt with according to urgency, with proper escalation as and when it is needed.
- Involved – all members of the unit are involved and encouragement for full participation is provided to ensure a greater level of empowerment and inclusion.
- Focus – priority items are given focus, with attention divided on matters according to importance.
- Results Oriented – all challenges are completed and managed according to a results based approach.
- Visibility – reporting and other basic metrics are used to determine priorities and assign tasks.
- Responsibility – responsibilities for individuals as well as the unit are assigned to ensure that the weight of the team’s duty is divided fairly.
- Recognition – success and victories are recognised and rewarded to encourage ownership and active involvement.
Do you have your own Autonomous Business Unit in place, and if not, do you think that your quality management strategies will be enhanced with the help of such a power team?