18 April 2011

Working as a team

Yesterday I was reviewing a doc that I wasn't really happy with. On the way to the review meeting I realised I was about to make a stupid mistake.

I was thinking I was going to go in and explain how the doc failed in many ways and didn' follow best practices. Essentially I was going in with the mindset to be an obstacle.

Before I sat down I realised that I needed to approach this from a different perspective.

Was it good enough to work with? Probably. Did everything need to be tight and perfect for me to be able to move on? No it didn't.

And it would have harmed an already fragile team espirit de corp.

It's more important to be able to communicate openly and work together than to address problematic documentation.

Back to the concept of satsficing. Satisfy + sufficient.

Instead of looking at the shortcomings as obstancles or risks to manage right now, I decided to instead to assess whether it was good enough to work with. And then to highlight the risk areas and try to resolve them in a positive way on the room.

We still have a business case doc that has loose terms of refernece and ambigous staements about what needs to be done, but as a team we can work through these issues down the line.

What's the message here?

Put people ahead of processes.

Photo by jsgraphicdesign CC @ Flickr


  1. Anonymous7:17 pm


    Great post! I totally agree - especially with the last line of your post. I recently wrote a piece on the theme of people vs. processes which your readers may find interesting.



  2. Hi Kailash

    About 2 minutes after I posted this I read your piece.

    It reminds me of when I did a gig at ANZ and needed to call the help desk to get my staff number. (And you can't access the service without a staff ID number.)

  3. The problem is you were not proactive in addressing the problems in the document, you let group think determine the technical direction by compromising towards your group members. Problems that should have been addressed early on were not and will fester into larger scale problems down the track as the project matures.

  4. Phillip

    I get your point, but let me ask you how you would addrss the situation if you knoew that by taking a confontational approach you would alientate key stakehodlers who you need to get along with.

    I am not talking about a mature organisation here - but one where conflict and competing values and demands cause regular problems.

  5. Great reminder Craig. With regards to Philip's comment, I think you were the best to judge the context of the situation and make the right decision.

    Another option could have been to give quick feedback as a coach, pointing out the current status will do fine and how it could be improved next time. This is completely context-sensitive in terms of approach.