The Rules of the Project: Two Strategies for Aligning Means

Aligning the means between individuals, project and organization is a Herculean task for any Project Leader. The means are the rules of the project. The way things are done.

Following are two strategies that can be used to align means. To provide you with some ideas. To start the discussion.

Patterning – Going Through The Motions

In essence, with this strategy the project team is told what the means are; the larger organization knows best. This idea originates from Jeff Sutherland in “Shock Therapy: Bootstrapping Hyperproductive Scrum”. If you have a new team that has no experience with Scrum, you will put a very experienced Scum Master in charge and he will set the rules. Relentlessly.

Only a few rules, that make up the basics of Scrum, but they have to be followed with strong discipline. The Scrum Master will make sure this happens.

Set the rules first, than, after a while, let go when it becomes natural. This is called “patterning”.

Continuous Transparent Feedback

A human system always communicates with its environment and based upon the feedback it gets from it, alters its behavior. If a group of animals will drink water from a well and one of the groups dies because of it, they entire group may search for a different well. If a company introduces a new product, and sees its stock plummeting because of it, it might change its strategy.

It is therefor essential that the project members get continuous feedback on their own performance and the environment. This is where the use of analytics, metrics, “in-your-face” information visualization and plain old coaching comes in. By providing feedback to the team on how well they perform under the current project rule set, they will adapt to more effective means if needed.

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