Group Coherence for Project Teams - A Search for Hyper-Productivity

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  • Creativity: individual creativity contributing to group creativity.

In coherent groups creativity of individuals can be freely expressed and included in the group's self-organization. Agile methods naturally promote this key ingredient by providing a developer with the structured process to work with colleagues to develop features. Close collaboration with business users, application architects and technical specialists reflects the self-organization of all contributors.

  • State Shift: change in energetic level (like water to steam or water to ice)

Subsequent to state shift, a felt phenomenon, individuals in a coherent Agile group can identify each other's complementary skills without management, visual or auditory clues. Their level of comfort and trust in the group increases.

  • Bonded State: group members bonded but everyone had bonded when Group Coherence occurred.

Feeling of safety in the group and openness of expression allowing instances of unknown to be accepted so the group's self-organizing energy is available to find solutions. Social events serve as extensions of work collaborations.

  • Fugue: accelerated interaction of the group members' activity and interactions producing great increases in group energy.

Interpersonal exchanges in group discussion quicken; people finish each other's sentences and actions; excited creative expression of individuals are part of the interaction of the group.

  • Perception of Group Coherence: awareness of Group Coherence.

Trust in group leadership and fugue responses; awareness that something energetic occurred; fun in addressing challenges together.

Group characteristics are invisible and have to be felt. In addition, we are not trained to detect them any more than we could detect radio waves without a radio. Nevertheless, people recognize Group Coherence as a common phenomenon when its characteristics are described to them. The discussion that allows others to recall feelings of Group Coherence is a good starting point for discussion of Group Coherence.

Perception of Group Coherence

When Joanna shared her research at Agile Open California 2008 during a session she hosted, it is not surprising that everyone who participated, while new to the terminology, was able to describe coherent work groups and project teams. These teams exhibited hyper-productive levels of energy, focus and achievement.

Once it is pointed out to them, anyone in a group that enters a shared state of Group Coherence is able to perceive it and remember it. For example there are the long-lasting bonds amongst team members who share such an experience. Those team members are highly motivated to work with each other on future projects, even creating those opportunities and reacting with enthusiasm when approached. It is possible to recall how much "fun" that project was. There is a shared sense of accomplishment and pride in these levels of productivity reached as a team.

This key ingredient alone might offer hints about why hyper-productive teams are better able to describe the qualitative characteristics of their work that were key to their success. Members of hyper-productive teams are more likely to have experienced Group Coherence and have the Perception to be able to describe it.

Correlation to Hyper-productive teams

We have observed that there is a high correlation between hyper-productive teams and this state of Group Coherence within a project team. Joanna's research gives structure to the search for this correlation and responds to what many of us have experienced and observed in our teams.

If we accept the correlation between hyper-productive teams and Group Coherence then the objectives of a project manager should include something like: "Getting the project team into a recognized state of Group Coherence for maximum sustained productivity and optimal results". This is pretty hard to fulfill when group coherence can't be planned, so the next best thing a project manager can do

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