Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Optimize Project Team Cooperation, Communication, Responsiveness And Adaptability

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There's Agile (a project management platform which is extremely well-known to Project Managers and IP professionals the world over, and its counterpart Scrum -- which when combined as "Agile and Scrum" sounds a bit like a vaudeville team -- it brings to mind illusionist act headliners like Penn and Teller, for example), and there's Agility, which is a term well-known to business leaders, Physical Therapists, Exercise Physiologists, Chiropractors and a vast segment of the non-computer obsessives who view it as the ability to maintain speed, flexibility and grace [e.g., minimal transitional trauma] when it comes to making moves or changes.

It is crucial to note that one of these (Agile) is a programming tool and the other (Agility) is a Human skill, both personal and interpersonal when applied to a team in motion to get a project done. It is also important to note that programming tools are not a substitute, but are more supplementary and complementary to basic Human understanding and performance.

Neither a program nor understanding are of optimal use when they are not put to practical use in performance.

Some practical considerations follow for the start of any Project:

1) Be certain that the mission is understood in totality by the players;

2) Be certain that all of the team members involved in any project (or a group of projects being run in parallel) thoroughly understand exactly how to use the software. A visual tutorial and a few quick practice exercises can help to ensure this. It is an aspect of Human Nature that people are sometimes hesitant to admit that they don't fully understand something, and that if they don't really understand it, they will either avoid suing it, or they will use it improperly -- this represents a waste of an investment in software, a continuous source of informational error, and a project with built in frailties;

3) Be certain that members of the team not only understand how to use the software tools and platforms provided, but that they truly act on the information which they receive;

4) In a sterile project coordination program, there can be no substitute for frequent interpersonal communications (meetings, status updates, and group progress sessions);

5) If you use Agile, it is not a tool which actually optimizes team cooperation, communication, responsiveness and adaptability. This takes leadership and management -- and the software tools for that are embedded in your brain -- you cannot buy them off the shelf or from any vendor.

A more technical whitepaper download follows from ZDNet, for those who are interested in talking tech:

From ZDNet:

By implementing a collaboration solution for your employees, you'll be opening up a world of possibilities. Learn more about how collaboration tools can make your business more agile in this white paper.
Read more

To summarize:

1) If the members of your team do not fully understand the use of the software tools (through tutorials, training, drills , and confidence-building), they will either avoid using them, or will misuse them, leading to inadvertent project gliches and "hiccups."

2) If the members of your team feel that they are only communicating through messages left in a black box (and they are left craving for conversation, interpersonal informality, a feeling of team communion and other simple needs -- for example, Agile does not contain an encouragement or brainstorming capability --), they will not operate optimally, and your performance as a Project Manager will be adversely affected.

Don't de-Humanize any project which requires the cooperation of Human beings, and don't forget (or forget to tell them) that they are your greatest resource.

There are two parts to Project Management: One is the "Project," and the other is "Management." And at present, skillful individuals are crucial to making a success of the "Management" component.

Douglas E Castle

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