A couple of small projects happening in my neighborhood of South Melbourne, Australia have me wondering about the value of many of the trappings and rituals we use in our projects. Do they contribute value to the stakeholder community or not?
One project involved resurfacing a small section of road. The crew turned up with their trucks and road-making equipment, finished the job and left. For the two days needed to complete the job, the workers brought their own lunches or went to a local café.
On the next corner, a production company was doing a shoot for a segment of a TV cop show. They spent a day setting up tents, canteens and support vehicles. They brought a cast of hundreds, including security and canteen staff. Over two days, the cast and crew rehearsed and shot the segment.
The difference between the two worksites had far more to do with ritual-based traditions and stakeholder expectations than actual needs. The facilities provided for road crew were lean. By comparison, the facilities provided for the TV crew were luxurious but possibly necessary to attract the right "talent."
Rituals can certainly be very powerful ways to build identity and cohesiveness in a team. Many rituals, however, may have simply become time-consuming habits.
A good example is the monthly executive review of all projects that has never resulted in a single canceled a project. Another is the Thursday morning team meeting that is called for no other reason than because it's Thursday.
Take a look at the rituals associated with your projects and ask how many of the meetings and processes add real value to the stakeholders involved.
How many should be refined, redefined or altogether abandoned?
What are the most valuable rituals for you and your stakeholders?
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