ProjectsatWork has published a study called Distributed Agile Teams: Achieving the Benefits. The report was put together by Elizabeth Harrin (@PM4Girls), who is the author of the website A Girls Guide to Project Management. The results of the research cover a lot of ground with respect to what makes distributed Agile projects work and what can contribute to their failure. The report is very insightful and definitely worth the time it takes to read. While some of the findings may seem like common sense, knowledge workers in the IT space (myself definitely included) seem to possess a remarkable capacity for periodic loss of grip to that tether.
My favorite part comes at the very end during the summary of recommendations. Number One on the list is:
Don’t act like your project is co-located – pay the tax for distribution.
This is one of the most simple things that so many of us forget when we are working at a distance. I believe this applies whether you are working down the hall from someone, or across the globe… there is a price that has to be paid when you are not sitting in the same room. With the transparency that Agile offers, this tax becomes far more obvious. There is no doubt that distributed teams provide a number of benefits, but those benefits come at a cost. The reason (IMHO) so many people struggle so much with distributed is that they keep thinking that the ride is free … which it theoretically could be… unless you actually want it to work.
ProjectWizards participated last week in the exhibition CeBit 2012 in Hannover (Germany). Just like last years our exhibition stand was embedded in the OS X Business Park. We held numerous meetings and did business networking with well known OS X software vendors. We generated lots of promising contacts with potential partners in the B2B sector.
The large demand from representatives of the Chamber of Commerce (IHK) was unexpected but pleasing. Chamber of Commerce was interested in various applications of Merlin for their members. We were very pleased to discuss OS X and iOS based examples with them.
We offered staged software presentations for Merlin 2. They were well attended and we received much praise from existing Merlin users.
Well over one hundred trade visitors appreciated the opportunity to come to our stand and posed detailed questions concerning Merlin’s usage.
Web sharing module and the possibility of always having your „projects at your fingertips“ (iPhone & iPad) did appear as a particular interest for many customers.
Last but not least, we would like to thank the organizers and the invisible helpers for this successful exhibition.
From what I can read and I understand, project managers have a hard job when wanting to manage projects successfully. They may be prepared and have planned all necessary steps, might be fortuned by skilled and motivated teams, they may moreover have so much luck that their client can express project requirements in a clear and distinct way. They might have thought about possible risks and took steps to mitigate them. They may even have managed to get the budget they requested. How many ‘may’s and ‘might’s have I used? Many? Yes, many but not enough. Even with so many mights which go right, they still can not be sure they can yell ‘done’ on time or be successful at the end.
Why? Well it is all about communication. Bad communication will make your project fail, good would give a legitimate chance of succeeding.
Our colleague Richard Joerges found in the archives of TED Conference 2002 a video describing how people sometimes talk, send messages, inform one another that everything is developing as agreed and fail to communicate their real problems or concerns.
The video is a presentation of Chris Bangle (famous car designer for various auto mobile companies like BMW, Fiat or Range Rover) in which he talks about how it pays not only to talk but also to say what’s in your mind and how to build trust between team members.
You may watch the video here: Continue reading
In a previous blog post, we have written about communication skills and that bad communication could be a warning sign to failing projects.
So if communication is so important in project management, what would a PM provoke by walking cold into a meeting? Cold reactions, at the very least. Keith Ferrazzi, an expert in relationship development and author of the books Never Eat Alone or Who’s Got Your Back, mentions in his blog the importance of generosity and spreading goodwill to anyone that we meet as a first step towards a warm relationship.