Thursday, August 2, 2007

Drivers Never Get Car Sick

I recall one day sitting in a meeting when our project's sponsor, very proud that our team had just delivered a release on-time and under budget gave a very passionate speech to our team about how proud she was to have worked alongside us and how we had triumphed over adversity. It was very touching and heartfelt but she lost my vote when she stated that process cannot be allowed to stand in the way of innovation.

I agree in spirit but why is process perceived as counter productive and stifling. The main benefits of process are not control but rather ensuring best practices are repeated and people understand the direction the project is going to take.

Did you ever notice how drivers never get car sick? The reason is of course that they know where the car is going. On this particular project we had a lot of very sick passengers. As a driver of a car you can take some steps to avoid your passengers getting sick:
  1. make sure they know where the car is going
  2. keep them talking and involved with others
  3. make sure they keep focused on the road ahead
  4. keep them involved in tactical decisions such as speed and direction.

Applying that analogy to our project drivers can keep their team productive, engaged and healthy by following a few simple steps:
  1. create a simple roadmap to ensure everyone knows the direction and there are no unexpected changes in direction
  2. continuously talk to the team and communicate progress
  3. make sure the team does not lose sight of the end goal
  4. ensure that the team has visibility and input into project direction.

Lastly, don't let stubborn pride get in the way, if you're lost, stop and ask for directions.

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