8

Steve McConnell mentions in his Rapid Development book that a team needs a shared, elevating vision or goal to be a real team not just a group of people.

What could be the vision when there are multiple projects (with different goals) that the people work on? Is it possible at all?

Some background: We do some internal product development (with ambitious plans for the future) but this seems mostly a "backup" project for times when there are no other projects for actual clients or we have to wait for the clients to move on to the next task, etc. Sometimes more than one client projects are running, so some people are helping to more than one project at a time.

"Our XYZ product has 20% of market share" or something like this does not seem appropriate vision since client project usually has higher priority and developers are not allowed to work on product development those times. (Why should anyone commit to a goal which is unattainable, right?)

"Bring a shiny new WXZ system to client Y" also does not seem good goal since usually isn't the whole group working for client Y.

9

As you've mentioned, it needs to be an elevating vision or goal. In light of the latter, I think the SMART principle and Time Map philosophies apply here.

Let's start with the Time Map (to learn more, check out Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern):

You know you can't devote all your resources because client projects take precedence. This is where a Time Map would be useful. You know it's important, but not as important as other stuff. At the same, you need to get this done at some point in the future. See if you can get everyone on the team to commit an hour or two a week at a specific time (book time in your group calendar or whatever you use). This slot on your calendar represents a time map for this project. This time map is to be interrupted only if you have a priority that equals a burning house (severity 1, whatever you want to call it).

SMART: Now that you have a time map in place (2 hours a week, which is to be held on Thursday at 3pm - 5pm), you can now use the SMART methodology.

Specific - The purpose of this project is that we wish to capture x% of the market share for a niche market (which determines the priority of the project). Our team members A, B, and C will be working on this project at a specified time during the week to release this product within a span of 1 year.

Measurable - 2 hours a week

Attainable - at 2 hours a week and an estimated 100 hours of effort, this project can be completed within 50 weeks (hey, it's better than never getting it done).

Realistic - Given that we have other higher client projects, 2 hours seems reasonable to spend on this project.

Time bound - We can expect this project to be done within a year's time. You can also elaborate this section to determine what tasks of the WBS will be done during the allocated time of the week. Example: Task 1 will be done on week 1, Tasks 2 and 3 are small enough that they can be done during week 2.

Hope this helps.

5

If you are talking about setting goals then go with TechWire's answer. I won't elaborate as I don't have anything of value to add.

If you are talking about creating a shared vision for your team/organization it is a different kettle of fish. When you develop a vision you have to think big, aligning the vision to your core values and corporate mission. Take into consideration:

  • What do you currently do well? Where are you innovative?
  • What do your competitors/contemporaries do well? Where are they innovative?
  • What does your organization find challenging?
  • Where do you want to be in two, five, ten years? How would your business change compared to today in terms of process, organizational structure and culture?
  • What do your customers want?

These provide you with guidance for everything that your company will do, and should be considered as part of your business case assessments when starting up a project.

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