Collacorative Project Managing

collaborative project managing & coaching

In increasing returns markets, no single company, regardless of size, can provide the complete range of product solutions that customers demand. Economies of scale led to larger and larger organizations. Economies of scope are leading to larger and larger networks of coevolving organizations.

Interdependence is the key word in a world of projects working as teams that come together, create value, and disburse, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Management is driven by relationships, collaboration, and alliances, rather than schedules, task lists, and control.

Project management will need to understand how to balance the old and the new. For example, good project initiation - organizing staff and agreeing on scope, objectives, and collaboration/communications channels - are just as important for today's projects as they were for yesterday's.

But, just as buying Microsoft Project wasn't the key to traditional project management, buying eProject Plus or TeamCenter won't be the key to extreme project management (XM). Success will come from a blend of concepts, practices, and tools.

The difference between saying you're a collaborative team and being a collaborative team involves enhancing collaborative skills - it doesn't happen automatically. Balancing face time and online time is important. The team members must understand the distributed decisionmaking process.

Every collaborative project needs a collaboration facilitator, or at least someone who assumes that role part time. Virtual teams can get off track easily; you can't walk by team members' offices and invite them to chat over a cup of coffee. In the stress of high-speed projects, it is easy for people to focus so tightly on their own work that they forget to communicate with others.

Having someone who coaches and watches team dynamics, sets up communications channels, nudges people into maintaining contact, periodically cleans up runaway message lists and discussion threads, facilitates decisionmaking sessions can make the difference between success and failure on a collaborative project.

It is a matter of understanding - what tasks are best accomplished face-to-face and which can be accomplished electronically ? When do we need to have a meeting to get a common sense, and when is it time 'to get the work done'?

Often, traditional project managers, particularly those who are inexperienced, confuse managing with doing. The evidence of this error shows up most often in bloated task lists in which one-, two-, and four-hour tasks are sprinkled throughout the project plan. These same project leaders then wonder why it takes so much time to update their project plans when changes occur and why resource loading becomes a nightmare.

In defense of those who develop overly detailed project task lists, many project management tools lead inexperienced managers down this path. The tools don't allow one to differentiate between a "task" (say, 20- to 80-hour work chunks) and a daily to-do or checklist that team members find helpful to accomplish their tasks.

It is not a matter of XM being "better" than traditional project management. Many project managers who have been successful applying concepts will have a difficult time adapting to XM, but using basic skills together with the more fluid, less controlled style of XM, the approach one uses on a project could be choosen from a full coloured palette.

Still, for projects in which the environmental factors are speed, uncertainty, high change, diverse and distributed teams, and the need for creativity and innovations, a XM approach fits best.

network computing - work disconnected - collaborate
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© 2015, Project Coaching