• Marina Alex

SWAY Dream Team

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

The rocket uses the maximum of its energy at launch. About 80% of the fuel burns in those first seconds. Yet, these moments are crucial in order to get airborne, overcome gravity, and enter into the orbit.


Same is true for the team: it is difficult to create one and, yes, it may be challenging to set up teamwork processes. But once you've done that, the team organizes itself and works effectively.


SWAY team is essential for every company. It allows the owner to abandon the micromanagement "operation mode" and have the time to observe how productive the business is. That's why every executive wants to create their own dream team.

Marina Alex, an international Agile expert, coach, and the author of the SWAY system (Sales with Agile), told us how to create a truly Agile team. Marina shared her knowledge and experience she had gained in the fields, and most, importantly, the insights she acquired while working on real cases.


What is a SWAY team?


The SWAY system was developed to implement Agile methodology in sales. But in less than 2 years, effectiveness of SWAY has been proven in all types of companies (B2B, B2C, B2G, startups) and in almost all areas pf business (marketing, medicine, HR, television, etc.). At the heart of the SWAY system, there is a self-organized cross-functional team of professionals united by a common goal, values, and motivation. The team usually consists of 4-9 people (including the Business Owner and the Coach).


So, let's look at each word in the definition of the SWAY team.


A self-organized team is able to achieve the goal on their own. Yet, it does not just happen on a hunch: the team is usually transformed or made into a “self-organized” one. That's where the SWAY Coach comes into play. Values and goals are the cement that holds the team together.


A value is something that has a deep meaning for everyone. It defines our beliefs and our actions. It marks what we stand up for. Every company has their own values. In fact, values constitute the foundation of any business culture. Working for a company whose values you share can be a true bliss.


At the beginning of the Agile transformation, you need to make sure your team creates a list of values. There's no need to invent them: values are to be discovered. What unites your team? What helps the team work effectively? If you're in the process of starting a new team, design a survey and pick those specialists who share the principal values of the company.



The goal set for the team should be understandable and achievable. Each team member should believe in it. If each employee in the sales department is tied to their own KPIs, which determine salary and bonus, then it will be difficult for the department to switch to Agile. No wonder sales people are often referred to as lone wolves. That's were we arrive at an important concept of motivation.


A financial aspect of the motivation equation is, perhaps, the most important and complex one. You can't start a revolutionary change by revising incentive schemes adopted at the company. Yet, you need to gradually move away from personal incentive plans in favor of team ones.


Team motivation should be linked to a common goal and built on the same principle: exceed the target = get a salary + sales commission. Salary is not reduced proportionally to the increase in bonus value. On the contrary, sales commission is added on top of the salary. This way, employees don't lose anything, and they don't perceive Agile changes as something hostile. At the same time, people are motivated to succeed as they are expected to get more financial rewards than before. Even though the salary may be different for everyone, as it depends on schedule, work experience, and professional skills of a particular employee, the motivation principle remains the same for all team members.


There are 3 types of SWAY teams that ensure success of the company.


- A Functional Team consists of representatives of the same department with the SAME functions: sales department OR marketing department OR IT Department, OR HR Department.


- A Cross-functional Team is usually comprised of specialists of different departments with DIFFERENT functions: sales + marketing + IT + logistics + accounting + legal department, etc. The team must include all employees involved in the sales cycle.


- The team of top managers (owners, senior level executives, etc.).



A perfect SWAY team is usually a cross-functional team. To create it, the company selects employees from various departments. This way, all specialists have different functional expertise and experience.Proficient in various areas, the members of a cross-functional team complement each other perfectly. Team members look at the situation from different perspectives and come up with unexpected solutions. Such a cross-functional team functions autonomously while successfully achieving their goals, for example, completing a sales plan (in the field of commerce) or releasing a finished product (in the IT field).At the same time, the team is able to make prompt decisions, bring products/services to the market quickly, and make the client happy in a timely manner.There may be dozens of such teams in one company.


Park Hotel Porto Mare (Crimea): World's First Agile Transformation in Hospitality Industry.


This case exemplifies the importance of creating a cross-functional team of top managers. Porto Mare's c-level team consisted of the chief financial officer as well as heads of the key departments (marketing, sales, supply, medical center, entertainment and recreation, etc.) The teams chose to work in weekly sprints. The General Director of the hotel assumed the role of the Business Owner (or, the Captain of the Ship.) Not only did he create and prioritize goals for the team, but also he set the tone of the entire Agile transformation. A transparent motivation system was developed: if the team reached the goal, the bonus was equally divided between all team members. In addition, net profit commission was distributed among the entire staff of the hotel.


So, what is a cross-functional team? It is the team that includes representatives of completely different departments. At first glance, nothing seems to be in common between the head of the supply department and the head of the maintenance department. Indeed, what can possibly unite them? Well, if the team shares a vision, and this vision has been created during their work on the SWAY Canvas, all departments pursue strategic goals together The whole team understands that all staff has to be on board in order to increase the business' profit margin (and that was the goal set for Park Hotel Porto Mare). Smooth functioning of one department often depends on decisions made by another. So, imagine, you need to renovate the rooms and increase room availability In this case, the suppliers are dependent on the maintenance service, i.e. they need to supply building materials to their foremen. In turn, the service technicians depended on the suppliers: if the materials are not delivered on time, all construction and finishing work slows down or stops all together.


Bauservice (one of the leading companies in the Russian wholesale market for ceramic granite, ceramic tiles, dry construction mixes, and related materials): Creating a cross-functional team for a specific project.


Once a year, the company invites all its partners to a business gala. The purpose of the event is to present new products with the "wow factor". Specifically for this p