The Big 5

cheesy muffins and gantt charts

Week 14 – The question was:
  • Post an entry in your blog reflecting on one or more of the ‘big 5’ and the coordinating mechanisms. Share an example from your experience where applying these ideas had a positive effect, or the lack of them had a negative effect.
  • Propose how you would implement these guidelines in your group project. Consider the special circumstances of students studying an MAODE module.
  • Post a summary of your proposal, with a link to your blog post, to the ‘big 5’ discussion thread in your tutor group forum.

Teamwork Ponderings

Teamworking has played a significant part in my working life, I’ve both been part of teams,  managed teams and co-ordinated projects.  I’ve not come across Kay et. Al’s model, but have been infected with Prince 2 (a project management methodology favoured in the public sector).

Shared mental models:   Yes!  It is really helpful to WRITE IT DOWN.  What is the project plan, what needs to be produced, who is going to do what, what are the milestones and dependencies, what are the risks.  Plans have to be adapted on the journey but they are a helpful artefact to share understanding of how things fit together and the interplay between elements.

Closed loop communication:  does this mean that you can’t summise that just because something was written down that it was read/actioned?  Hearing a response means that you have less anxiety that your communication has been received.  This will be really important online.

Mutual Trust: The best teams I have been in start from a place of trust, an understanding of each others strengths (and weaknesses).  If we know we are “on board” and committed to the goals of the team/project then it is easier to be supportive (back up behaviour and have a team goal rather than individual goal).

Team Leadership: I was astounded with what we achieved as a larger group as part of Activity 15 without an identified team leader, as I would have thought that would have been essential.  My observation is that the team leader, often has the clearest view of how on/off track a project is and many can end up picking up extra work themselves rather than co-ordinating it out to other team members.  Communication between groups of 3 or less is relatively straightforward and I’m not convinced that a defined “team leader” role is required, but for groups larger than this my experience is that it is good to have one person who has the agreement of the team to make decisions on the project’s behalf after gathering information from team members.

What will make this difficult for us as MAODE students

  1. We don’t know each other well
  2. We can’t talk to each other easily – electronic communications will make it easier to unintentionally offend
  1. As part time students we won’t share the same working hours for this project.

How can we implement some of these ideas?

  1. Be upfront and honest about strengths and weaknesses, and availability to commit to the project. This will build trust, help us to divide work appropriately and be able to help each other out.
  2. For distributed teams mutual performance monitoring is the real challenge.   It will be difficult to work out how on-track tasks are without updates on progress and communication.  We will need, early on to agree methods of communication and ways of indicating how things are going.  A visible project plan and team log may help, as would some form of written plan (I confess I haven’t fully got my head round what we are supposed to be doing yet, so am not sure what form this should take).  A regular synchronous catch up would help if we can negotiate a time.
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