The Meddlers


It is a dynamic that allows you to visually generate organizational design in your company, to help in the best team creation and how to scale in a sustainable way. With assumptions that are launched, people are challenged to generate possible scenarios and how to anticipate problems with learning (helping to generate resilience).



I guess the Meddlers game is nothing new to most of the followers of Management 3.0. I actually found out about this game some years ago, but in 2018 when facilitate a dynamic in a company, that I became fully aware of the power and significance the Meddlers game can reach!


Concerning organizational structures, through our working experience in traditional enterprises most of us have a legacy background, which for the most part implies a hierarchical layout.


Next they have the link Meddlers, of the original dynamics with its explanation :


The awesome thing about the Meddlers game is that it brings the participants to look at organizational structure from a completely different perspective: instead of hierarchical frameworks, we apply fractal principles!


Fractals (from chaos theory) have the same properties at all scales.That also means the same communication overhead at all scales!


That’s why organization experts aim for organizational designs following fractal principles: by applying fractal patterns we are able to scale our organizations without being bogged down by bureaucracy.


When playing the Meddlers game, it is important to differentiate between participants with IT background or the ones coming from different sectors. This is the reason that Management 3.0 has created two different versions of the Meddlers game: you might play the earlier version with clearly defined IT and Agile roles…


…or you might take the new one, where the roles (represented by hats) ought to be defined by the players, depending on the working area they would like to simulate (services, finances, HR…).


We always begin the exercise with a simple scenario: the players should define a business unit with 10 people in the team for 1 client and 1 project. Here we concentrate mainly on the development team setup.


In a second step, we increase the complexity, asking the participants to grow the business unit up to 18 people but this time for 2 projects in the same client. Now the connexion of tiles begins playing a central role!


The big challenge comes up when we ask the participants to adapt the business unit to manage five projects at the same time, for three clients, with the same amount of people.


Now tiles and hats are moving around, and it is fascinating to observe the interactions and discussion coming out of the participants!


Whenever time is available, maybe the participants want to try something completely different, like designing with the Meddlers the digital web department of a retail fashion company!



 The advantage of the application of the dynamics of meddlers is that it helps to recognize the constitution of their teams, how they interact and how their interaction would be better. It helps them to simulate scenarios, to generate resilient strategies and to generate internal learning in a procedural way through dynamics. Delimiting the failures and errors previously.


I have done this dynamic in all types of clients, banking, energy, insurance, always trying to put it in context with real situations that the meedlers would help them solve or at least raise in another way or generate a creative and constructive debate.


Over time I have advanced in the technique, initially I raised generic situations with some clients, and worked in certain teams to advertise the technique, but not in other teams with pressure focused on achieving objectives, intermediate managers or level c, it did. It did not work, logically they wanted it in their "context", with their real cases and situations that live or could live.



The Meddlers game is probably one of the most effective ways to simulate the emergence of new business units, as it helps players to adopt a different perspective, far from hierarchical structures, more in fractal patterns.


I personally bring Meddlers with me when I train companies that are looking for an agile transformation. It's amazing to see what comes out when you apply the Meddlers in the context of a Business Agility consultancy!

That was my first great, great learning.


Subsequently, adapting it to each context, with its real situation, the dynamics have been very well received and I have evolved everything I could.


When the customer has a situation of growth in a product or project, business evolution or to streamline their internal processes, the dynamics work very well.


I have discovered how to positively challenge the dynamics so that they are more receptive to its application in companies in sectors as diverse as infrastructure, software development consulting, banking, energy and possible future situations.


When explaining the concept of antifragility above, place them in contexts that involve situations of:


- growth in the market, such as doing it in a sustainable way, with internal resources or with contracting power.


- setbacks in the market or with customers, taking them to a point of initial tension, how would it adapt to the situation?


- Later I try to challenge them with the application of different mentalities in their context, from the point of view of profitability, even with a mentality read or agile with the talent of your company.



Learning as a facilitator in this dynamic is continuous every time I do it, I try to create real scenarios with them and see the impact of their organizational design with them, opening my mind to never judge if a design is good or bad, but to guide it to flow direction. Does that design continually meet customer needs in your product or service? Can bottlenecks appear? Can we simulate new real scenarios that allow us to generate organizational resilience and anticipate possible future problems? It has helped me to generate systemic thinking, more holistic and without judging any of the solutions created, just focus them on helping to continuously generate value for the client. Said learning is transferred to the people who participate in the dynamics, with feelings of surprise and amazement at "transcending" beyond "this team/s, area or unit design is good for me" to "in this way we focus on satisfying the needs of client X" or "in this way we will generate a continuous flow for client Z". 

In a client, this dynamic has recently served to completely reorganize a service area, when starting the dynamic and recreating the current context, they realized that they had "silos", teams that generated part of the value but transferred it to other teams for the sum of the pieces to be a sum of value, but not value in itself. The reorganization served to create 5 "cross" teams with all the necessary profiles and each one covered a part of the product, focused on possible customizations based on the client and a complete cross team that ensured compliance with the product standard, the quality of the product and the adequacy of the product to all customers. They have gone from focusing on the efficiency of resources to focusing on the generation of added value for the customer, with the availability of a continuous flow of value to the customer, each team aware of its scope of action in the product but with a shared global vision. The limitations of the existing system in terms of skills and people were identified and the participants (managers) were encouraged together with the teams to look for solutions to overcome the limitations (lack of talent), carrying out a 2-month training plan for all team members both in technologies (angular, riad, nodeJS, Javascript) and in the testing techniques part, in addition to hiring 5 more profiles, necessary and visible through the meddlers, one for each team. As an experiment, the client was proposed to do it gradually. Reorganizing first 3 teams with the CORE product part and finally reorganizing the rest of the members in the other 2 teams to have the entire product adapted and with value flow for the client. On a monthly basis, both the teams with Niko-niko panels were asked about their satisfaction, as well as the client with NPS and in both cases it was very positive, at the team level their team karma rose from 3 to 4 (out of a total from 5) and customer NPS increased from 6 to 8 due to improved delivery in part due to the application of Meddlers dynamics in reorganization and the perception of new quality in delivery, faster delivery and more responsiveness. quick to change.




With a learning based on the experience of carrying out the dynamics on many occasions, the most important thing is to try to constructively involve or "catch" people with their context, in their field, with their real situations so that they empathize, take away the learning . and above all the challenge of change. Based on learning, I try to ask the workshop its context beforehand, its "real case" in order to be able to work on it in the workshop. If it is not possible, as next steps, I challenge you, if you have not been able to do it in the workshop, to do it in your next few days, in your context, with your people, and with accompaniment, to help you evolve your context, to understand it, to manage the system and not the people in their teams through dynamics. Help them create a journey that allows them to improve their organizational design to be more effective.