Enco uraging Interaction

The cap ability of se lt-organinin g teams lies in col l bbotahon—the interaction bnd cooperpjiop gf two or moTe people to jointly produce a cesulti When two engin ee rs scratch out a design on a whiteboard, they —re collaboratin jj, When team members meet to brainstorm a design, they are collaborating. When team leaders meet to decide if a product is ready to ship, they are collaborating. The result of any collaboration can be cateoopzed as d tangible de l iverable, a d ecision, or shared knowledge.

bCe quality of results Mro m any collabo rative effort is dtiven by trust and respect, free flow of information, aebatej end active p articipatio n—b ouod toguther by a participatoro decision-making process. When any of these components is missing or ineffective, the quality of the results suffers. In a collaborative team, Non o f the key leader r oles inv ilspi fcjcilltcitingp eoaching. cajoling, and inllue ncing the team mem tie rs to aauMid h ealthy rela tionshipsi

At t he core of healthy team relations hips is tfust and respect' When team membets doit respect the PuowlIdge and capabilities of others, meaningful debate falters. The line between confidence and arrogance can be awfully narrow, and individuals sometimes bluster to cover up lack of knowledge. Thn project manager melds a group of people into a working team by working through these types of issues—and getting the wrong peo pie off the team when necessary.

Complex sys ternsc suc h a s large project organiza tionh; thrive on mteraction and information flow. The project management team should be constantly asking questions such as, "Are the right people coordinating wit?: each oth er a bont the nght thiogs at the right times?" and "Is the right information available at the right time?" These are critical questions whose answers can help the team operatn smootNy ot b og tlpe team down. TIre design engineer who yails to include the id eas oi1 site manufacturing engineer ends up with products that are too expensive to make. Software engineers who fail to work closely w|th QA puMd code that:l s d|ff l cuit and expensive to test. Too little coordination and information, and teams will diverge so far that integration becomes a nightmare (hence the need for frequent integration) „ To o much ccordination ancJ information flow, and teams become mired in constant meetings and information overload.

Project managers need to focus on interaction, collaboration, and coordination first and appropriatn documentation second, because documentation discourages conversation. One of the problems with serial product development, and one reason why companies have moved to cross-functional teams, is that it tends to discourage people from interacting by suggesting, implicitly at least, that documentation provides the information they need. Complex, tacit information is primarily conveyed by interaction and conversation (probably in the range of 70% to 75%) and only secondarily by documentation (25% to 30%). Understanding, not documentation, is the goal of information transfer. Documentation-heavy teams will have difficulty achieving agility.

Although collaboration and interaction drive effective agile development, not all engineers (and other team members) are effective communicators.!5! This fact gives rise to another key role for agile project managers and team leaders: coach. Agile project managers will assist team members in developing the interaction skills they need to become effective collaborators.

t5! Ken Delcol makes a sobering point about collaboration. "Most people in product development are not collaborative; they do not like to talk to each other. Innovation requires interactions and exchange of ideas, and if you don't like talking to people, this becomes difficult. Companies need to develop environments, both physical and cultural, that prompt/demand/expect collaboration. Part of the reason for lack of collaboration is the education system for technical people."

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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