Group Coherence for Project Teams - Common Purpose


knowledge about Group Coherence can help us to improve on this common reality.

In enterprise decision number one, full enterprise participation in determining direction could setup the coherence of the organization at every level. We are otherwise handing our project teams a vision they haven't bought into, and expecting them to get behind it and execute on it. They haven't developed their Common Purpose from the enterprise vision.

In enterprise decision number two, once the vision is set, people are assigned to projects rather than asked as a group to participate in self-selection of both the projects and of the teams. The enterprise community could select projects the group felt capable of delivering or that the group found suitably challenging.

With Agile methods, assignment of work within the project team is unnecessary because individuals or pairs volunteer to do individual tasks. Extending this approach to the enterprise, there is a higher chance of success when a group chooses the project than when the project is chosen for the group.

In enterprise decision number three, the best action for the enterprise is to make the training and support available to its project teams, as well as create the framework for continuous process improvement and learning across teams. Project teams are instead often limited by a requirement to adhere to a prescribed and "approved" set of methodologies.

Project teams lose out on the opportunity to experience Group Coherence of these three types because the responsible parts of the organization reach those decisions in isolation. Like the Group Coherence types, the four enterprise decisions are interdependent. Through participation in these decisions, an enterprise Common Purpose is developed and the project team would enhance its ability to deliver an appropriate implementation.

The element that is missing in order to reach a completely coherent enterprise, is Practice at every level. The Group Coherence research shows us the importance of Practice in reaching group decisions. Practice was the only ingredient that was connected to and in support of every other ingredient in the Group Coherence research.

The ability to identify difference and learn through attentive repetition, either for individuals or groups, is a simplified description of Practice. Through Practice we can get a feel for the contextual application of knowledge, rather than the acquisition of individual techniques.

Commuting by car to a new job serves as an example of an individual's use of Practice. Each day the driver can learn about traffic patterns along the route from day to day, changes brought about by the weather and effects of periodic events outside of the immediate route. Over time these add to the driver's ability to deal with change in the journey and to commute more effectively. Practice is the mindful comparison of experiences that introduces improvement over time in a particular task or action.

Practice in a group helps to create a collaborative product. This Practice at the group level requires participation of all the members to understand and create a product consistent with the group's Common Purpose . For example, the recording process of a professional jazz group illustrates the playful interaction among technically proficient group members. The group product is the music they produce. In their shared Practice to create music, Group Coherence can occur.

Group Practice in the enterprise would involve the project team in the entire organizational decision-making process to bring the full experiential abilities of the group members into the group's product. Enterprise Practice means replacing the "?"s with "X"s, giving the project team participation in all four enterprise decision types in Table 2.

Enterprise Common Purpose

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