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    Keys to avoiding conflicts in an offshore IT project – Part 1

Keys to avoiding conflicts in an offshore IT project – Part 1

A new series of articles
I will start today a series of articles on the topic of conflict avoidance within a Software project, and more particularly within an offshore IT project involving international team members.

As soon you put people together to achieve a common goal, the best and the worst can and most likely will happen. The power of achievement of the group is almost infinite. Unfortunately, the power of conflict and misunderstanding is almost as big.

In this series of articles, I want to present various common obstacles in the life of a project team and how to avoid them. We are not doomed to conflicts. But good will and best intentions are not enough. One needs to realize and truly understand what is happening and see the forces in action, to be able to act on the situation and convert the bad into good.

This article is hosted on my company’s website: http://www.liemur.com/keys-to-avoiding-conflicts-in-an-offshore-it-project/

 

 

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    The Language of the Receiver: Why best intentions are not enough

The Language of the Receiver: Why best intentions are not enough

When you are project manager, you are like the conductor of an orchestra. You must have talent yourself and you need the talent of others. But to make a success, you not only need everyone to have the same score sheet, you also need everyone to share the vision of what the group is trying to achieve. This Vision might very well not be coming from you. You can have been hired to implement someone else’s vision, but in all cases everyone needs to understand the goal. You can be producing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, but there is quite a gap between a version for a cartoon and a version for illustrating the way it could have been played at the time of Liszt. Still the same score and the same artists in the orchestra, though.

Sometimes, sharing a Vision sounds trivial but it is not always. The reasons can be numerous. Here is one of those situations…

I once was working on a pretty big software project for a customer that had some of these communication illnesses I like to cure (I mean the project has illnesses, not the customer ;-) ). Let me tell you about the symptoms and how they exemplify some of the language challenges topics I have presented in this blog.

The IT project team has over 20 people. This project is absolutely key to the business and there is no question about the status of “flagship project”. The project is presenting a double challenge to the organisation, not only they are starting one of the biggest project they ever had, but they have also decided to adopt a new software development process. They have decided to adopt Scrum [...]

Does one size fit all?

No later than a few hours ago (I am referring to the time of writing this text, not its publication), I have written a rather unusually short blog titled “Are you a positive rule breaker?” If I say unusually short, this is because if you compare to what I have published in this blog so far, this was a dwarf of a blog. Why was that?

The answer is that I have written it under the “influence” of my Marketing Director and excellent friend Scott. Although I take full responsibility for the content of that blog, I shall admit my weak attitude towards his strong pertinent and professional advice to make it shoooooort. I said to him that I used to expose my ideas and thought more expansively. At this he replied that I was almost obsolete and that the trend is Twitter-like communication with 140 characters max. I then replied that this is all rubbish and that I actually don’t give a sh*** of Twitter’s constraints and that I will even take time in the future to write a blog about my level of contempt for this famous trend. I do not believe that you can indeed always express proper ideas in 140 characters with satisfactory result. To this answer Scott made two comments:

1à Twitter would pretend that they did psychometric researches that have shown that an idea is writeable in less than 140 characters.

2 à This is great. Do not forget to write this blog (he loves controversy and provocation as much as I do).

Well, here I am. I’m going to keep my words!

First of all, I do not believe a single second that Twitter has chosen 140 characters on any psychological research. [...]

Open Space and Mates’ Mere Presence

Who in the software industry has not worked in one of these huge open-spaces readily available in many workplaces? Those who have not can probably consider themselves as the exception. Those who have, probably wonder where on earth this idea of putting dozens and dozens of people in the same room to produce software, come from. I’d love to meet that guy who suggested that first, just to be able to put a face on it. I doubt there is only one source. Anyway… my point is not to find the culprit but to think about the consequences of such choice.
The question came to me first when I was asked to work in such place, then when I read Peopleware (Tom DeMarco) and then when I read about the Zajonc experience. All in all it deserves to think about it.

Let’s start with the Zajonc experiment. Robert B. Zajonc (pronounced Zy-unce – like Science with a Z; born 1923) is a Polish-born American social psychologist who is known for his decades of work on a wide range of social and cognitive processes. In 1969, this fellow and his team have conducted a strange experiment with cockroaches. He found out that cockroaches ran faster down a runway to escape a light source if the runway was lined with an “audience” of onlooking fellow cockroaches (each in its own plexiglass cubicle). This work led to the theory that the mere presence of species mates elevates drive/arousal of the performer. Since then, plenty of other research teams have lead other experiments. In the end, a meta-analytic review has been conducted by Bond and Titus in 1983 of both published and unpublished works involving over 20,000 participants. I [...]