Group Coherence for Project Teams - Common Purpose

[article]
Summary:

In our continuing search for Hyper-Productivity, we have observed that a strong and highly adaptable shared sense of Common Purpose can increase the group's ability to execute on the project vision or enterprise strategy.

Agile teams apply several methods that support this. They self-organize around a common goal agreed with the customer. This goal is most often embodied in the set of stories or tasks to be included in the next iteration. A shared definition of "done," a "living" and dynamic backlog and an involved customer all help to remove ambiguity around the goal and keep each iteration adaptable to inevitable changes.

However, the reality at many companies is such that the teams' Agile methods are threatened or not adequately supported at the enterprise level. Rather than developing and strengthening the shared sense of Common Purpose , many basic group decisions are made by individuals in other parts of the organization and delivered to the project team.

"In the traditional model we leave the interpretation of data to senior or expert people. A few people, charged with interpreting the data, observe only a few of the potentialities contained within that data. How often do we think about all the data that goes unnoticed because we rely on these solitary [isolated] observations?"

Margaret Wheatley (1999, p.66).

We believe group decisions are hard to make because we are not trained to reach them. We engineer our organizations hierarchically to provide single-point accountability at every node. Thus, group decisions and consensus are optional or not visible. Many organizations amplify this by focusing their bonus schemes on individuals rather than teams. This creates an incentive for critical decisions to be made by individuals without involving their teams despite having centuries of collective relevant experience at their disposal.

Mapping Group Coherence to the Enterprise
We defined Group Coherence in our previous post as the shared state reached by a group of people that allows them to perform one or more tasks in perfect rhythm and harmony with great energy to overcome obstacles. The following table recaps the interdependent instances of Group Coherence , their types and their mapping to associated enterprise decisions.

No.

 

GC Instance

 

GC Type

 

Enterprise Decisions

 

1.

 

Coming up with group research question

 

Starting the common purpose

 

Enterprise direction or vision

 

2.

 

Agreeing to a common project

 

Identifying group action to learn about the question

 

Identifying a project or project portfolio

 

3.

 

Finding and agreeing to a common process

 

Identifying a group process for Practice(see below)

 

Process methodologies to support project execution

 

4.

 

Answering the question

 

Group learning or group resolution based on the question

 

Project implementation or solution

 

Table 1: Mapping Enterprise Decisions

 

The first decision above, the vision, is normally set at the executive level. For decision two, senior management is brought in to define the optimal enterprise project portfolio. For number three, the process methodology is often defined by the project manager or approved by an enterprise PMO.

Finally, for project implementation, Agile teams include representatives from each functional silo which helps the group to develop its Common Purpose. This creates an opportunity for the fourth type of Group Coherence to occur. The other Group Coherence types are generally unavailable to project teams operating in hierarchical organizations.

Table 2 reflects this reality at many companies, and shows where in the organization these enterprise decisions are typically made.

No.

 

Enterprise Decisions

 

CxO

 

Snr

Mgt

 

PM/

PMO

 

Project

Team

 

Customer

 

QA

 

BA

 

Arch

 

Dev

 

Ops

 

1.

 

Enterprise direction or vision

 

X

 

 

 

?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

Identifying a project or projects

 

X

 

X

 

 

?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.

 

Process methodologies to support project execution

 

 

 

X

 

?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.

 

Project implementation or solution

 

 

 

 

X

 

Silo

 

Silo

 

Silo

 

Silo

 

Silo

 

Silo

 

Table 2: Enterprise Decision-Making

 

We believe that our

Pages

About the author

TechWell Contributor's picture TechWell Contributor

The opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the TechWell Community Sites. Guest authors represent that they have the right to distribute this content and that such content is not violating the legal rights of others. If you would like to contribute content to a TechWell Community Site, email editors@techwell.com.

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, TechWell.com is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!

Upcoming Events

Oct 12
Oct 15
Nov 09
Nov 09