Collaborative project management is a real challenge. Getting a team to share the load, manage their workloads, and deliver projects on time autonomously requires incredible communication and coordination. Are your teams managing their projects well? Is there room for improvement? Here are 3 ways you can start getting more out of collaborative project management with your team today.
Have fewer meetings - Or no meetings if you can help it
How much time do you spend in meetings all week? Does each meeting really need to be an hour? Do your meetings routinely go over time into your next meeting? Have you given up and just accepted your fate? If the little voice in your head shouting, “no don’t go to this next meeting,” hasn’t convinced you to stop going to meetings, here’s an article with 5 reasons your company needs to have fewer meetings.
Here’s a simple test to determine whether or not to attend a meeting, ask yourself – “do I have anything to contribute at this meeting?” If the answer is no, don’t go to the meeting. And now instead of wasting an hour in a meeting staring at the ceiling or playing with your Fidget Cube, you can have a productive hour of focused productivity.
And here are some more questions you should ask every time you think you want to set up or go to a meeting, answering these questions should help you cut down on useless meetings.
Status meetings are a waste of time. There really isn’t much point to sitting in a room and hearing everyone talk about their status. Most of the time their status doesn’t impact your status. And it’s not like you go a whole week without talking to people you’re working with. There are faster and easier ways to get updates. I’m sure you’re using a few of them already. Replace the status meeting with one of the hundreds of communication apps available between your phone and your computer.
Let me challenge you – “cancel” all your meetings for a week. Take a vacation from going to meetings. I bet you’re way more productive. And if you need to be in the loop I bet you’ll find less time-consuming ways to get looped in. For instance, do you have a burning question about a piece of a project that’s being discussed in a meeting? How about sending a message to that person, or catching them 1-to-1 in the hall.
Work in the open
So you're not meeting anymore. How do you keep track of the project? It's simple. Work out in the open.
This concept is so important that the IBM Institute for Business Value wrote a book about it. You can read the book here. You should have enough time to read now that you’re not spending all of Tuesday in status meetings.
Here’s the gist just in case you didn’t get that much time back from canceling all your meetings. Working in the open is basically community-based collaboration method that’s enabled by technology, and powered by social networks. This allows large groups of people with specific expertise to post problems, discuss solutions, and test those solutions in real-time, together. This motivates individual and collective talent to innovate more quickly and deliver better solutions faster. Sounds pretty impressive, huh?
While IBM is doing this at scale in a large business, any size team can benefit from working like this. We’ve been doing it at Samepage for the last two years, and this work philosophy will improve the quality and speed-to-market of deliverables, it has for us.
Share everything. Invite everyone.
Start drafts of each part of the project in a collaborative document editor – tell your team about it so they can follow along. Track project progress and assignments on an open platform where everyone can see how the work is divided. Start a team chat or conversation thread dedicated to the project where team members can ask questions, share updates, and get answers.
This way instead of sitting in boring meetings, group members can find answers and contribute to the project directly at the right times to move work forward. When all of the work is out in the open, there’s no need to wait for 45 minutes on a Wednesday to present something everyone has seen already.
Volunteer – Be generous and help pick up the slack
With everything out in the open, it's a lot easier to see where the gaps are. Want to help manage those gaps? Roll up your sleeves. Yes, this will require you to be generous with your time.
True story – In a previous business my co-founder once brought in a consultant from Harvard Business School to come work with us on management. It was a very long workshop on relationship research and theory; none of it was business specific. The most important concept and one that completely changed the way I look at all relationships was the concept of the importance of generosity. If there is no generosity – there is no relationship and we’re holding the team back. Generosity is the hallmark of a healthy relationship working or otherwise.
But you weren’t in that meeting to get the wisdom fist hand, so here’s an HBR article about Generosity in the workplace and its benefits. Guess what? Being generous in the workforce will help your career, and help you forge better working relationships.
It’s Thursday. You know the presentation is due on Friday. You also know that 2 sections aren't done yet, they’re assigned to other team members, and that you’re an expert on one of the sections. Be generous with your time and expertise; volunteer to help pick up the slack. When the whole team is engaged it's possible for everyone to pitch in and help manage the workload.
When you’re working in the open, and you aren’t spending time in endless meetings, you open yourself up to become a more effective, and team oriented collaborator. And that’s good for you and your business. These 3 “ways” should get your team’s collaborative project management back on track. Have you tried any of these out? Let us know how it went in the comments. Do you have a great tip for keeping your team on the same page? Share it below!