It might seem like a no-brainer that encouraging collaborative project management among stakeholders and team members on essentially any undertaking is crucial to success.
However, you would be surprised to find that much of the waste in businesses, large and small, derives from miscommunication and missed opportunities borne of the fact that many teams don’t really know what collaboration looks like, how to optimize for it nor the result of the full benefits of practicing it on a regular basis.
Further, there continue to be antiquated systems that rely on minimal collaboration internally between tiers in the hierarchy and with affiliates until the end of the project. These types of management tend to perpetuate the creation of waste and the leaking of resources that could potentially be put to much better use.
The Standish Group’s annual “Chaos Manifesto”, reports that fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year. Although there are a number of interlinked factors contributing to this disappointing data, the report identifies one of the significant problems when it posits that 33% of projects fail because of a lack of involvement from the entire project team. Furthermore, the Project Management Institute’s annual Pulse of the Profession study presented collected data that 30% of the PMs polled considered inadequate/ poor collaboration to be the primary cause of their failed projects over the last 12 months.
Obviously, collaboration and interaction play a significant role in building a product optimally. Their lack thereof can be detrimental.
What is Collaboration Actually?
In project management, collaboration means achieving interactive creation – the result of the combined effects of maintaining a manageable system of feedback loops, an environment of visibility within the organization, defined accountability in all parts of the team’s process as well as consistent & disciplined exchanges of communication. Persistent dedication to these five tenets of interactive creation has had a hand (and foot!) in all of the really innovative undertakings in the human history of work. As Henry Ford says – “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
It is this concept of truly working together that collaboration serves to raise up.
On the other hand, the lack of visibility and interactive creation has been a key player in the meltdown of some amazing projects, even entire economies. Massive processes such as the United States economy itself, refer to the global tension prevalent in the financial world in 2008-2009 to the lack of visibility on the market situation and of statistics on short-term movements, says the World Trade Organization report of ‘lessons learned’ published 2013 by Marc Auboin and Martina Engemann. Lack of access and transparency is notorious in slowing down a process and creating unnecessary waste resulting in low team morale and a lower quality product.
What does interactive creation look like?
Interactive creation is something intrinsically linked to every part of the creative process. It has to be sewn together with each approach to stakeholders and collaborators, as well as integrated into the general mindset of the project team. Here are some practical approaches to collaborative project management that can encourage a healthy workflow for your next successful project.
Maintaining VISIBILITY within the organization on all levels.
Creating an environment of transparency within the project team eliminates the barriers of communication between the various tiers of the project hierarchy and encourages input, as well as involvement from all members of the team. Promoting access and the regular exchange of information creates communion within the team and helps to address problems faster.
Assigning sub-systems of tasks to particular individuals within the project team promotes ACCOUNTABILITY within the organization.
Collaborative project management makes use of localized control sub-systems as much as it can. Creating a manageable work breakdown structure promotes interactive creation by assigning responsibilities to various members of the team but still tying all task sub-systems back to the overall team plan. This encourages defined accountability, a common understanding of the full project goals as well as the individual’s adopting of his or her particular role in its execution.
It’s not enough to be “in the loop” if there are no FEEDBACK LOOPS.
Collecting feedback from all levels of the organization is essential to successfully creating anything as a team. If we assume the central database you already have in place has done the job of giving every team member access to the complete information related to a given project, then the next step would be collecting impressions from every member of the team in order to ensure that the project is moving in the right direction and all team input is being treated as priority. You can create built-in feedback loops in your process as well by keeping your amount of work in progress at a given time to a minimum by setting up automatic limits to keep you from overloading yourself and your team members.
BE CONSISTENT in actively involving all project members in collaboration.
Collaboration is something that needs to be flexible and intrinsic enough to fit anywhere in your team’s process. Choosing the way we communicate with our collaborators depends on what the situation demands and we should be ready to make optimal use of various media consistently to allow collaboration to become part of the mindset of the entire organization. Get comfortable with chat, phone, video call, screensharing, Kanban boards, emails, and whatever else is at your disposal without bypassing this crucial part of the way you interact with each other while you work.
BE DISCIPLINED can make or break a project. Nurture that mindset.
Contrary to popular belief that frequent meetings are a distraction, hosting brief stand up meetings during an ongoing process can be absolutely vital to staying on track. This takes the waste out of long winded conversations and actually makes meetings less intimidating and more frequent. Being disciplined in the way you approach your team meetings and keeping them as quick as possible means saving time to take advantage of in other scenarios. This approach can help shift attention to the important things and clear up any details before they become problematic. The epitome of the lean and agile mindset!
Why does it matter?
Collaboration is not a one-off and that needs to be emphasized. If you want to be constantly creating top level projects that require a team benefiting from visibility and interaction and creating value on all levels of the project structure then you need to work on maintaining your channels and methods of collaboration and using them as regularly as possible to get the best creative results.
Maintaining the interactive mindset, approaching collaboration in a disciplined manner, creating an environment of accountability and visibility and redefining your goals and process using feedback loops will help you make decisions together.
Want to know more about achieving interactive creation with your team? Discover Kanbanize.