A Team of Your Own


 In a recent pm2go.com microblog Pauline Nist suggests having your own team. “The best project in my career was back at DEC in building the VAX 6200. It was the first SMP system to use microprocessors. Here I had the luxury in building my own team from scratch. As an executive sponsor if you can build your team, recruit the right people with the right skills you will have an advantage. This is where you can manage the right chemistry and get buy in to the mission early on in the project. That project was highly successful, it was predictable, it met all it goals, and everyone walked away feeling really good about the project. I think the large part because everyone started together and they saw real progress. It ended up making a $10 billion for Digital over the life of the product.” 

Feedback from some of the members suggested they rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to select their own project team. Another member stated, if we only had the luxury of choosing our own team.  They went on to say that team members work on multiple projects at one time and also support production applications. A member stated while he could see the advantage of being able to select a team to help ensure team members are actively engaged, he was not sure how he could do that in his organization. Also, there are conflicting priorities on multiple projects and competing executive sponsors that can prevent selecting and assigning your own optimum team.

They ask for suggestions how to get a team of their own, so here is what we have come up with as an idea. Start with an experiment and call it an experiment. First, select a skilled project sponsor and assign him/her to a small project or application.  If you do not have a skilled project sponsor, but have a person with a small project, have that person take our good sponsor class. Second, work with the sponsor to select a small team of 3 to 6 members of fairly good talent, but not too good. In your environment the best people seemed to be pulled off for other projects or production issues. So, for your sanity sake keep away from them. Set aside a special room or place for them to collaborate and work.  If possible have them try Scrum.  Then third execute the project without interruption. If it works out well, try to keep them together, build another small product, and simultaneously build another team for another small project. This creates multiple ‘project squads’ to be available going forward. However, do not be impatient and get carried away. You need to build your capability slowly. 

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Jennifer Lynch

Jennifer Lynch is Communication Manager for The Standish Group. Jennifer’s expertise is to create and execute an industry, press and customer communications strategy designed to increase the visibility and awareness of The Standish Group, its products, services, and corporate citizenship initiatives.

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