Monday, June 20, 2011

Project teams and 'the avoidance collusion'

Great article by Paul Glen which addresses the phenomenon of avoidance as a commonality in project teams. Avoidance may be more prevalent in functional structured organizations where project team members are added to a project, not having the project as main concern because it is an additional task to their employment.

Sometimes it feels as if our basic assumption about project leadership teams is that they can't work well together -- as if collaboration is out of the question and we're ready to settle for a cold peace based on limited communication and mutual suspicion.

The prototypical project leadership team consists of a project manager, a technical lead and a business sponsor. Their relationships form the core of the project culture, which spreads out to the rest of the team. If the core group works well together, displays patience and respect for one another, adopts common goals, and trusts one another, the rest of the team tends to interact accordingly. If they treat each other with legalistic caution and reserve, that too spreads throughout the team. The tone is set in that core. 

The three people who fill these roles tend to be very different from one another. They represent the interests of dissimilar parts of the organization and have different educations and professional experiences, which give rise to distinctive assumptions about how businesses should work and even different ways of talking. And they tend to have rather divergent behavioral styles -- styles that reflect the very different departmental cultures they represent.

But they do have at least one thing in common -- though it seems to undermine their collective collaboration. That one thing is what I call "the avoidance collusion," which stems from the fact that none of them is terribly concerned about his relationships with the other two.

Read this excellent full article by Paul Glen for Computerworld:

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