A product work colleague asked how to measure collaboration in the context of a project. What do people mean when they say “Let’s decide how we will work together”?
As usual, I gave a lengthy answer as to what I think. Here I am open sourcing it.
I think there are two main elements to this statement “Let’s decide how we will work together” in the context of projects.
1- Communication: How frequent project members communicate and what are the ceremonies involved? Will there be a standup and planning? Will only heads/PMs sync up on certain things and everyone sync up on other things? The key is to find the balance between being informed vs distracted.
2- Decisions: How decisions are made? This is the more dangerous one that people try to hide under the rug. Most projects don’t go as planned and many times there are no clear decision makers or decision criteria. This is where conflicts arise and escalations happen. There is no single answer to what’s the right thing to do as it always depends on a big number of variables like the project, the teams, and the stakeholders. One thing that helps me always is to think ahead of problems and raise them earlier. It makes me sound pessimistic but it does no harm if I turn to be wrong. If I am right the project benefits and people would have less reaction to problems as they were already anticipated.
At the end collaboration for me is measured by how close are we getting towards the result. And I am using the word “result” because I sometimes feel people consider delivery as the goal. To me it is a mean to achieve a result. If we can achieve the result without having meetings or with having more meetings I am ok with it. If not then we are not collaborating well enough, and there is a problem.