This is the fourth in a series of blogs on the challenges and fun related to managing a diverse team with widely different backgrounds, experiences, education, and understandings. (Or herding Cats, Cows, Sheep, Goats, Dogs and Llamas) This type of team has a high degree of “informational diversity.”
The first three blogs:
Those set up the problem that makes it sound impossible to manage. But it’s clearly not impossible.
THINGS I’VE TRIED THAT HAVE WORKED
First off, I didn’t get this anywhere *near* correct for the first ‘zillion’ times. That’s right, I failed as a Project Manager (in varying degrees) for years. The project may not have failed, and the product of the project never failed, but I clearly didn’t do as good a job managing a cross-functional team as I should have. I did improve my skills and after continually trying and learning, I developed a cookbook of techniques that worked for me with a team of experts and a difficult technical project. I’ll write about all 7 of my recipes for leading a cross-functional team or project. The first one is the most important.
Number 1: Establish a sense of mission
There’s a popular story that exemplifies what I mean by “Project Mission.” During a visit to the NASA space center in 1961, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor mopping the floor. The President stopped, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor replied: “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!” This is awe-inspiring to me.
The sense of mission is the undeniable knowledge that everyone is working towards the end goal and that the goal will be useful. There’s a PURPOSE to what the project team is doing. My advice is to identify the mission of your project, in as few words as possible. Believe it, say it, and do it.
Project Mission questions – everyone on the team must be able to answer these, and the answer to the last two is “YES.”
Remember the President Kennedy story? The janitor had a strong sense of the project’s mission. EVERYONE should have the same mission concept. In 1973, Peter Drucker said:
“That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.”
So, say the project mission, believe in the project mission, live the project mission – all the time.
MEET ME IN SAN DIEGO NEAR THE PROJECTMANAGEMENT.COM BOOTH.