Squad versus Chapter: 4 greatest differences

Nobody wants to feel alone, right? Everybody wants to be part of something larger than themselves. Whether it’s the popular group in high school or the rowing club during their student years (yes, this is autobiographical. One of these goals was achieved. You guess which one 😉 ). At our company the organizational structure has been changed in a revolutionary way. No more traditional teams and value chains but volatile squads that come and go. But you can’t change basic human needs that easily. So, where is the new home base now? Squad or chapter?

A chapter is your small tribe chapter squadfamily of people having similar skills and working within the same general competency area. For example a communication chapter, a customer journey chapter or a web developer chapter. A squad is designed to feel like a mini-­startup within the company. A team that that covers all skills and tools needed to deliver on the purpose. This mix of expertise and skills is provided by squad members from different chapters.

Chapter versus Squad: 4 greatest differences

  1. Expertise versus purpose. In a chapter the main goal is to keep the shared skill/knowledge/expertise at par and keep improving on it. Translating market trends and opportunities into a product vision. When that vision needs to be delivered, you get to the squad. The squad is all about delivering on their purpose. They get it done and they will do whatever needed (within reason of course. Mostly 🙂 ).
  2. Daily allies versus valued peers. You sit with your squatties every day. Trust me, my fellow squatties have seen 50 shades of Nijhoff and vice versa. We’re in the trenches together! You and your chapter colleagues see each other less often (knowledge sessions, congresses and trainings) but more focussed on your skill.
  3. Constant feedback versus intervision: with your squad; you plan, you stand-up and you do retro’s. You are in the agile continuous feedback loop together. The chapter focusses more on knowledge sharing and intervision. For engineers that might mean code review, for somebody else it might mean a fellow content specialist reviewing your work to keep it aligned with the latest standards.
  4. Volatile versus sustainable. A squad is a volatile construction. Purposes can be the launch of a new product, or the migration of a system. When the purpose is delivered, the squad members are reallocated into new squads with new purposes. Don’t get me wrong, you rarily see a two-month squad, but a five-year squad should also raise some effectiveness questions. A chapter on the other hand, is sustainable. The expertise – though evolving – will stay stable. For example the content management expertise.

And the conclusion? Which one should be home? Sorry to disappoint you. It’s neither. And it’s both. One can ‘t exist without the other. No productive squad without skilled resourcing from relevant chapters. No point in having chapters when there’s no need for the expertise. And that’s a great thing! I feel very committed to my squad and it’s purpose. We have a lots of fun, stupid jokes and share highs and lows. But I also really appreciate to touch base with the chapter and talk about our expertise and shared vision. How do you experience the squad versus the chapter? Which one feels like home?

Cheers, Marijke

ps: about the group I did manage to belong to when I was still young and naive? You probably guessed right. I was never in the popular group. But man, did I row 🙂

ps: in this post, I didn’t go into the challenges of defining relevant chapters (based on what skill/expertise?). A lot to tell and a lot to ask on that, so stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “Squad versus Chapter: 4 greatest differences

  1. Thanks for this overview about squads and chapters. How does your process of redefining squads look like? Everyone has the choice for the next topic to work on? Do you work with disciplinary leads and if so are they leads for chapters or squads or completely different?

    Sorry for raising that many questions … I’d really like to read and learn more about it 😉

    1. Hi Sebastian, thanks for your question! The squads are continuously reviewed based on the tribe-cluster-squads purpose. And depending on that purpose and even the stage in realisation of that purpose, different capabilities within that squad might be required. (changing) needs for capabilities are discussed in POCLAC’s (more on that to come) and marketplaces. Resource allocation is a responsibility of a chapter lead in close cooperation of the involved PO’s. Hope this helps!! We will write a post with an example in the coming period, stay tuned 🙂

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