In my two latest posts (about Level 5 Leadership with Project Management 2.0 here and about Leading Collective Intelligence) I wrote about leaders and leadership aspects in Project Management 2.0. Now, it’s time to discuss project teams and their transformations in the PM 2.0 reality.
I came across a very interesting blog discussion lately. Social media evangelists Dennis D. McDonald and Lee White discuss the introduction of Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, social networks, etc., to project management. I believe that their thoughts can also be applied to the collaborative features of Project Management 2.0 tools. For me, the most intriguing idea brought up in their discussion was the idea that these tools help people create project communities from their project teams.
Traditionally, a team is a group of people linked by a common purpose. For a project team this common purpose is achieving a project goal, set by a project manager. However, wise project managers know that setting a goal does not guarantee a project’s success.
Motivation plays an important part here. You need to reach people on the emotional level and make them passionate about a project for the simple reason that the more committed one is to a project’s success, the more likely the project will be a success. The next important thing is to make this passion common to all the members of your team. Experts say, that to make this happen, you need to strengthen the social bonds between the team members. Here’s where blogs, wikis and social networks and can be of great assistance.
They, as I pointed out in one of my previous posts, create a collaborative environment that lets everyone on the team share knowledge and relevant information. Thus, everyone on the team can be heard and can introduce ideas about the development of the project. While they are constantly interacting, introducing their own ideas, and getting feedback and help from other team members, people on the team level become socially connected to each other. Dennis McDonald and Lee White refer to this social connection as a “community.”
In his post, Dennis mentions the phrase “sense of community”, saying that “it refers to a sharing of common beliefs that involves a connection at a more personal or emotional level.” In this regard, the concept of community brings to mind notions like passion, devotion, and commitment. Many project managers would agree that commitment, along with passion and devotion are very important for a project’s success. Emphasis on collaboration that is introduced by social media, blogs, wikis and Project Management 2.0 tools and practices helps to build the sense of community in a team.
Yet, each team is unique, just like each project is unique. Some teams sit in the same office and have successfully completed several projects together; others are separated by vast distances and have never met each other before. If this is the case the role of the social media will be especially important. When a project brings together people who may not know each other or who may not have worked together before, social technologies can help to greatly enhance collaboration and communication. There can be numerous examples for such a case: a large corporate project, a project to unify the operations of two merging companies, an outsourced project, or an international project, members of which are located in different parts of the world.
In his post, Dennis writes: “In the context of a temporary time-bounded project this is not at all unusual, especially when projects are large and involve multiple teams that span organizational or departmental boundaries. Making it easy for people to communicate and to establish both professional and social relationships can make eminently good sense.” I couldn’t agree more. Blogs, wikis, and Project Management 2.0 tools help to create teams that share not just a common purpose, but common interests. These tools and practices help to build project communities that are committed to a project and are passionate about successful project completion.
A project community is very close to another notion that’s very popular today – “collective intelligence” or “collective brain,” which is one of the essential practices that Project Management 2.0 takes from the Enterprise 2.0 movement. These two (project community and collective intelligence for a project team) are interconnected, as effective collective intelligence relies on the team’s collaboration and interactions, as well as team members’ sense of community and common interests. So we may say that the next-generation technologies can stimulate the two sides of your project team involvement: emotional (by building communities) and rational (by developing collective intelligence). Stimulation of these two sides will inevitably result in the increase of a team’s productivity.
At the end of the day, the multiplied team morale and intelligence is to the whole organizations benefit. Maximized productivity of a team will lead to more projects completed successfully in a shorter period of time. These results may be able to justify investing your precious budget money into the new technology, to say the least. But justification of money spending and validation of ROI is a topic for another post. Meanwhile, I’d be pleased to see your thoughts about project communities in the comments to this post.