I am involved in a project that has been labeled “The Perfect Storm” by my manager. The label actually has helped me to put my role in perspective and enabled me to come up with a few ways to do my part to get the ship safely to shore. Here are a few details about the project.
1. Four different geographical locations with 2 different time zones
2. Three separate products/applications that integrate with 3 separate larger applications/products/systems
3. Two “QA” groups with different roles and two different cultures/managers/processes
4. Three bug tracking systems
5. At least 4 different development teams are involved once the products reach integration
6. Each “QA” group has several other products/applications/systems that they are involved in testing – most of which take a higher priority
Communication is of the utmost importance – yet early on it was easy to see this was not going to be easy. Issues involved with communication can and did easily turn into trust issues since human beings are involved. Finger pointing, accusations, misinformation, stepping on toes, and just about every conceivable issue with communication became apparent to me within months of my being involved in this project.
My first response was to get extremely annoyed/angry/defensive. The teams that I have spent most of my time working with did not behave in this fashion. My second response was to go to my manager and hand the project back over to him to give to someone else. This was how I had received the project to begin with. It was handed over to the manager to hand over to someone else. I did not want this project to be my "undoing" and I told him so. It was at this point that he said some things that have changed my view of my role on the project. It took me a couple of days of contemplation to transform my thoughts.
First, it was his description of “The Perfect Storm”. I have never read the book, nor seen the movie, but I have lived on both coasts in the U.S. (New Bedford, MA for about 17 years and not far from Huntington Beach, CA for six years) and have been through my fair share of hurricanes, major storms, and blizzards. The implications of this description were not that difficult for me to imagine.
Secondly he said, “Maybe it was because I was in the military, but any task I was given to do, I did. I did not have an option out.”
Finally he said that I was the perfect candidate for this project. (Why? Is it because I appear to be more Vulcan than Human? Was it because I call things as I see them? Was it because there really was no one else to take on the project at this juncture? Was it the projects reputation? Was it a compliment? Was it selfish on his part?)
I determined what I was responsible for and cast aside what I was not. I remembered that first and foremost I was responsible to the stakeholders and customers of the project. What would they expect of me? I based this answer upon what they have come to expect of our number one product/application/system. What should I be doing if this is what they expect? (I can use the number one product as a consitency with project heuristic.) What do I have the power to change in this project?
I divided up the people on the project into groups in order to determine what I felt each group would expect from me in terms of documentation and other forms of communication. I am currently documenting what I do and how it affects the overall project. More posts on this to follow….
Side Note: This is one example of why I respect and admire my manager. He uses my own beliefs and character against me. This challenges me and keeps me in touch with my own principles and values.