Process, People, and Pods


Friday, 3 August 2007

You Have the Wrong Team

As a project manager, you have just staffed your project. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you have the wrong team. If you an experienced project manager, you already know this. But you did the best you could from the resources you had available. It is the wrong team because:

  • You are missing the experience you need in some key areas, and
  • The team members don't necessarily work well together.

Agile practices help here, particularly the practices of collocation (and you do sit with your team, don't you?) and pair programming. If you are missing experience, collocation and pair programming lets you grow that experience by judicious pairing. Knowledge transfer is quite rapid and efficient in this environment. Collocation also dampens down the "finger pointing" that often plagues teams. ("He doesn't understand!", "She is so stubborn!", and the like.) It is much more difficult to talk behind someone's back when she is sitting in the room with you.

If team members still have difficulty working together, your being in the room provides insights to the solution. Is it a matter of tone (challenging, dismissive, personal rather than business)? Then coach on interaction style. Is it disagreement on technical matters? Ensure swift resolution before it becomes personal.In this area, Agile practices can be a disadvantage:collocation and pair programming will exacerbate negative relationships. Whereas you might be able to ignore or defer action when each team member sits in their own cubes, such deferrals are quite destructive in an Agile team with its close proximity.

Net-Negative Producing Programmers (NNPP)

Agile luminaries have coined the term NNPP to identify team members whose overall impact to the project is negative. That is, the work they do is less than the harm they do to their colleagues' productivity. An NNPP may be productive outside of an Agile environment. In a cube, their griping has no listeners. There challenging, terse tone goes unheard. But given their visibility in a collocated environment...

I recently saw on the Web a report purporting to show the impact of one bad apple on the rest of the team. A single individual typically can negatively impact other team members numbering in double digits! So indeed, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

There are several ways to identify such individuals:

  • Observe. Being in the room, you can see the behavior. Even more important, you can see the impact on overall team. The situation can be corrected by coaching, or ultimately, removal.
  • Ask the team. The team knows who is acting incorrectly. Borrow a lesson from Survivor, and let the team vote someone off the island.
  • Who gets picked last? If pairing is practiced, who is the person no one wants to pair with?

If you fail as a project manager to act quickly on identified NNPP, morale issues will quickly ensue. Your inaction, in particular, will be glaringly obvious to the team. Your leadership, dedication, and even competence will come under question.

Once more for emphasis: Failure to address an NNPP problem will rapidly destroy team productivity.

The Continuing Issue

The real fatal flaw in staffing projects, and Agile projects in particular, is not realizing that the project staffing needs change throughout the project. Projects that acquire their staff, and then stick with that staff throughout, will incur excessive costs if not fail outright. Staffing must be adjusted throughout the project.

A few years back on an eight-month Agile project, I made 10 staff changes in the first 6 weeks. The core development team had 16 different participants, but only 4 were on the project for the entire time. Rather than being a disaster for such team instability, the project set high water marks for productivity and quality that have yet to be touched.

Why does staffing need to be adjusted throughout a project? It is for several reasons beyond staff quitting and needing to be replaced:

  • The needs of the project change throughout the project. DB tuning will be important at some stage, but not others. Knowledge of systems with which the project much integrate will be needed at some time. The general load of analysis, development, and testing will drift during the project.
  • Team members will grow during the project, particularly on projects lasting more than six months. Exploiting this growth is part of good team management. Again from the above example, I reduced the number of developers to six toward the end of the project. They produced so much code, however, it took 17 testers to keep up. The developers skills had increased that much.
  • An inbred team will cease innovating. Studies of innovation reveal a significant drop in innovation in a team that has been together for as little as six months. New blood is needed, even if only to challenge the patterns of current thinking.

As a project manager, you must constantly be alert to tweaking the team. You may raise eyebrows by constantly shifting your team composition; ignore them. When the need for an expert has passed, roll her off the project. Bring in a specialist when the need arises; exploit collocation and pair programming to harvest the knowledge and release the specialist. Perhaps that resource you really needed was not available at the start of the project. Bring them on board when they are available.

Successful team tuning requires building a strong relationship with two groups. First, be willing to share your experts with your colleagues. Hopefully, they will reward your good will with the loan of a needed expert of their own. Don't hoard resources when the need has passed; rather, release them to reduce your costs and maintain the morale of the resources. Second, build great relationships with your staffing or resource management team. Send them flowers or buy them a case of beer (or both); they will start to call you when a resource becomes available that you might use.

Application development is chaos; react or face corresponding chaos in your team.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen cases where an NNPP isn't a bad apple, but either:

1) "New blood.. challeng[ing] the patterns of current thinking"?

2) A journeyman or master programmer working with apprentices, who don't understand the "strange" OO ideas being espoused?

It seems either of these could also produce what could be labelled an NNPP, even though they're not a "bad apple".

Fred George said...

I haven't seen either of these situations labeled as NNPP. That is certainly not the same as saying it couldn't/wouldn't/doesn't happen. Certainly, a Master or Journeyman coming onboard a project full of Apprentices does create stress; it just doesn't seem to be labeled NNPP.
How do you upgrade skills on a running project? Do you have experience trying this? I will muse on it a bit more; I bet it is worth a post or two itself!
Thank you for your thoughts...

Anonymous said...

情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,按摩棒,震動按摩棒,微調按摩棒,情趣按摩棒,逼真按摩棒,G點,跳蛋,跳蛋,跳蛋,性感內衣,飛機杯,充氣娃娃,情趣娃娃,角色扮演,性感睡衣,SM,潤滑液,威而柔,香水,精油,芳香精油,自慰套,自慰,性感吊帶襪,吊帶襪,情趣用品加盟AIO交友愛情館,情人歡愉用品,美女視訊,情色交友,視訊交友,辣妹視訊,美女交友,嘟嘟成人網,成人網站,A片,A片下載,免費A片,免費A片下載愛情公寓,情色,舊情人,情色貼圖,情色文學,情色交友,色情聊天室,色情小說,一葉情貼圖片區,情色小說,色情,色情遊戲,情色視訊,情色電影,aio交友愛情館,色情a片,一夜情,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊,視訊,視訊美女,美女視訊,視訊交友,視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,情人視訊網,影音視訊聊天室,視訊交友90739,成人影片,成人交友,美女交友,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人貼圖,成人電影,A片,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,UT聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,男同志聊天室,UT男同志聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,6K聊天室,女同志聊天室,小高聊天室,上班族聊天室,080中部人聊天室,同志聊天室,聊天室交友,中部人聊天室,成人聊天室,一夜情聊天室,情色聊天室,寄情築園小遊戲情境坊歡愉用品,情境坊歡愉用品,情趣用品,成人網站,情人節禮物,情人節,AIO交友愛情館,情色,情色貼圖,情色文學,情色交友,色情聊天室,色情小說,七夕情人節,色情,情色電影,色情網站,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,情色視訊,免費視訊聊天,美女視訊,視訊美女,美女交友,美女,情色交友,成人交友,自拍,本土自拍,情人視訊網,視訊交友90739,生日禮物,情色論壇,正妹牆,免費A片下載,AV女優,成人影片,色情A片,成人論壇,情趣,免費成人影片,成人電影,成人影城,愛情公寓,成人影片,保險套,舊情人,微風成人,成人,成人遊戲,成人光碟,色情遊戲,跳蛋,按摩棒,一夜情,男同志聊天室,肛交,口交,性交,援交,免費視訊交友,視訊交友,一葉情貼圖片區,性愛,視訊,視訊聊天,A片,A片下載,免費A片,嘟嘟成人網,寄情築園小遊戲,女同志聊天室,免費視訊聊天室,一夜情聊天室,聊天室

Edwin said...

Buy Kamagra
Earn Google
Viagra Cialis
Cheap Kamagra
Cheap Viagra
Cheap Cialis
Make Money on Google
M65 Jacket
M65 Field Jacket
Airline Dog Carrier
Airline Dog Carriers
Viagra Cialis
Earn Google
Airline Dog Carrier
Airline Dog Carriers
Airline Approved Dog Carriers
ED Hardy Wholesale
Copy DVD Software
How to Send Fax
14k Yellow Gold
Redneck Costume
14k Gold Heart
Tandem Baby Stroller

Anonymous said...

酒店經紀 酒店打工 酒店工作 酒店上班 酒店兼差 酒店兼職 打工兼差 打工兼職 台北酒店 酒店應徵 禮服酒店 酒店 經紀 打工 兼差

pound said...

大阪 十三 でデリヘルなら

大阪 十三 でエステなら

大阪 十三のキャバクラなら

大阪 十三のキャバクラなら

大阪 十三のキャバクラなら

ご活用ください。



十三 風俗求人なら

大阪 キャバクラ求人なら

高収入 男性の風俗求人なら

高収入 男性のキャバクラ求人なら


お役立てください。

dong dong23 said...

ray ban sunglasses
hollister clothing
cheap jordan shoes
cheap oakley sunglasses
abercrombie
gucci outlet
replica watches for sale
coach outlet
toms shoes
coach outlet
cheap jordans
louis vuitton
nike uk
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
vans shoes
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
nike trainers
beats wireless headphones
adidas shoes
louis vuitton
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban outlet
louis vuitton handbags
coach factory outlet
air jordan retro
michael kors outlet online
true religion jeans
polo ralph lauren outlet
timberland boots
kevin durant shoes 8
nike roshe runs
coach outlet
cheap jordan shoes
polo ralph lauren
jordan 3 infrared
ralph lauren polo
michael kors outlet clearance
20165.6wengdongdong