• Communication with the team
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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 [...]

  • Project Success
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    A Pragmatic approach to Software Process: UP + Critical Chain; Applied to a Retro-Engineering fixed-price project

A Pragmatic approach to Software Process: UP + Critical Chain; Applied to a Retro-Engineering fixed-price project

Software Process is great topic for endless conversations (and battles) among IT professionals. Every now and then, a new process is arriving on the market that is introduced as the new marvel of the world, the new silver bullet, thanks to which every software project is going to be a never seen before success. We can name a few:

Waterfall
V-Model
Prince 2 (although this one is not really an IT project process)
Unified Process
Agile family

eXtreme Programing
Scrum
Cristal
DSDM (Dynamic systems development method)
Kanban
Lean
Etc.
Etc.

During our decades of projects experiences, we have encountered many of these processes, used on various projects and in various circumstances. Today, I would like to talk about a project during which we have used a combination of a “proper” (in the sense of created with this purpose) software development process and a more generic project management approach. The two processes are:

The Unified Process (also known as Rational Unified Process, before IBM bought Rational) created initially by Ivar Jacobson, Grady Booch and James Rumbaugh.
Critical Chain, created by Eliyahu Goldratt

 
The Unified Process
The Unified process is not only a process but more generally it is a framework that has been created for being tailored for each project. It is the first iterative and incremental framework that has been applied widely in the industry.

It is composed globally of four Phases, each Phase being composed of Activities.

One of the most interesting elements is the Phases as they describe periods of the project during which the objectives are different. The first phase, the Inception is about scoping the project, identifying a possible architecture and listing the risks to come. Then comes the Elaboration phase, mostly about validating an architecture, [...]

Multicultural Thinking: the Develop Magazine article

Here is the content of the article I have published in Develop Magazine, issue #114 that you can read and download on the following links:

Read online: http://issuu.com/develop/docs/dev114_web.

PDF Download: http://www.develop-online.net/digital-edition. Look for the issue #114 in March 2011.

The version in the Develop Magazine is obviously nicer to read with diagrams. The magazine is definitely worth reading as a whole!

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“You cannot work with these guys!…”
 

We all know that games development has gone global. This globalism is in line with the trend of developing offshore, in less expensive or more competent countries, creating in fine a multicultural project. In places like London, you’ll find people from all over the world in the same workplace. At first, this multicultural approach may seem to present real cost efficiencies, but what is the real price we pay? Team human dynamics are a complex issue and looking at the outsourcing savings alone can prove to be a false economy. Unfortunately, this little gremlin will only show himself late in the project, costing ridiculously high amounts of money.

We all know that if you are British and work with a Japanese, an Indian or even a Frenchman, the nature of the relationship might be more or less fluid and smooth. As Richard Lewis, one of Britain’s foremost linguists and author of “When Cultures Collide” summarises it: “A working knowledge of the basic traits of other cultures (as well as our own) will minimize unpleasant surprises (culture shock), give us insights in advance, and enable us to interact successfully with nationalities with whom we previously had difficulty.”

 

What does it mean to be British, American, French, German, etc.?

Cultures have been studied by anthropologists for a while, but the analysis of what a culture [...]