Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Google Wave – hello touchy feely, goodbye fire-and-forget

I’m a firm believer that an effective project manager (PM) needs to be an effective communicator. A PM cannot hope to positively impact a project without being able to successfully communicate with the team (including sponsors and users) and to get the team to openly/honestly communicate with each other. There are many stumbling blocks to effective communication, including:

  • Conflicting interests
  • Common terminology and understanding
  • Differing personalities

One of the causes of the above stumbling blocks is proximity – people are people and people tend to form into temporal tribes whenever possible (cliques for a better term). When people ‘tribe up’ they tend to form their own interests, terminology and tribe personalities…each adding to barriers of effective communication…so, why am I saying that Google Wave is the start of something good? Simple, its primary function is to allow individuals to group contribute to ideas (Wave’s) and the ability to easily add in people from any ‘tribe’ to review how the conversation progressed (replay)…the base assumption here is that the PM would open the idea to anyone/everyone with any related interest. This allows for the crossing of traditional IT boundaries: programmers, sponsors, testers, end users can get included directly or indirectly (polls for example) into an on-going discussion. The crossing of the boundaries starts to reduce the barriers and helps personalize each individual’s concerns, interests and understandings. NOW – Google Wave in itself will not help, no tool really helps – tools enhance, the PM and management need to enforce/reinforce the need to openly/honestly communicate and to include/invite ALL people with interests into a conversation – Google Wave allows for this conversation to take place over time and distance…and allows for the reaching out to larger groups through polls…it’s not a fire-and-forget approach of email, its and ongoing live discussion with the ability to incorporate polls, documents, pictures/mockups, etc….

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