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    Human dynamics: 3 IT Project Common Human Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Human dynamics: 3 IT Project Common Human Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


We often talk about common problems occurring on a Software project such as not having the business executives on board, recruiting the wrong Project Manager, having too many projects running at once, etc. These problems are true and valid. But what I want to talk about today is a small list of more Human oriented problems; the kind of problems that are happening without anyone really noticing, and for that very reason, very dangerous ones. For simplicity matter, I will stick to only three Software Project Management Mistakes in this article.
Making too many assumptions

Human beings are communicating with unique and extraordinarily rich medium: natural language. We use it every day in every circumstance to sort out any problem. But using words to communicate ideas and concepts is also very time consuming. As a result of that, because we are efficient, we make many assumptions about what the people we communicate with already know. For instance, if I say to a friend that I was driving 50km/h on the motorway or 180km/h, I do not have to explain that it is very slow or very high speed. With the slow speed, this person will immediately imagine that I must have had a good reason for doing so: traffic jam, fog, heavy rain, car problems, etc. I can assume that the person I am talking to knows that there is a speed limit on the motorway and that the speed limit is say 130km/h. I can also assume that this person knows how drivers would usually drive in the country I am, if speeding is common practice or very rare. I could even make assumptions about the knowledge the person I am talking to, has [...]

Improving the Production Chain: Building Respect

In order for a project to be successful, one may think that a good technology and a well chosen process will be enough to guarantee success. How many of these projects have we been in and still deliver late and well beyond budget? If good technology and process aren’t enough then, what is missing?

In a project, the most important element is the human part. People are forming the third side of the project triangle. To manipulate the chosen technology and to respect the selected process, you need human team members. If they don’t work well together, if they do not respect each other or if they do not target the same objective, the project is doomed.

Respecting and trusting co-workers is essential. In case of stress, instead of blaming the others for the troubles we face, we tend to collaborate and cooperate. How do we create such positive context? The answer is in knowing the others and one-self better.

In my previous articles, I have introduced the importance of cross-cultural communication (see Develop magazine #114) and the benefit of understanding what makes the others different and how to leverage on that difference. Somehow we can approach the variety of functions within the team with the same spirit. Indeed, we do not count anymore the number of times we have heard things such as: “The XXX workers know nothing about a project, look at the rubbish they produce!” Replace XXX by “Testers”, “Managers”, “Developers”, “Designers”, etc. Whoever is not in your seat are mostly incompetent and almost a nuisance. In a way, it is a miracle that the project is happening and “you” are at the centre of that success.

Of course, the reality of a project is [...]