What does project management, productivity, agile, and lean have in common? Operations. It's about how the company can stay responsive, limit the need to ask piles of questions through a long email thread, or make the workflow more employee intuitive. Captain Kirk would not be able to make risky moves like diving into an active volcano if his crew did not have the operational knowledge to save his butt or contingency plans in the event Kirk ends up as molten fondue. As there are many operational management styles, picking the right flow is a tough job regardless of company size, years of existence, and industry due to the fact that each entity has its own mojo flow jo. Even though Wetogethr has been around for quite some time, we needed to reassess our current operational procedures in order to allow our superheroes to do what they do best: rescuing businesses from design disasters.
Analyze the current situation
Spend time watching your team in action, and jot down their daily activities to see where inefficiency rears its ugly head. Is your developer, Mariella, spending more time responding to emails than punching a couple hundred lines of code? Are all the tasks written on a sheet of paper making it inaccessible to the team when they need to review it? Are they looking sluggish around 2:36pm? These are things you should note for review later until you're able to sort through the data gathered. Another method to gathering data would be to ask the group on potential inefficiency improvements, and take those into account. Remember your job is to simply gather as many datasets as you could possibly obtain without tweaking the situation so the original data is not comprised.
Implement your solutions
Upon completing the data collection, it's time to sit through the pages of information to see which items may have a larger problem than what you had observed, or easy to resolve. In the earlier example, perhaps the reason why Mariella was responding to loads of emails is because project manager had the tasklist causing the other developers to ask Mariella what were their tasks. A simple solution could be the project manager could create a project management board to assign tasks and create visibility on everyone's progress. Basically, you are to siphon through the information, select the items that are 1) easy to implement, 2) require little to no change in behavior and 3) simple to utilize prior to rolling out company-wide. By testing the tactic in a small batch, you can tweak the solution or scrap it entirely before screwing up the chaotic zen that everyone already felt comfortable executing. Lastly, measure the Before and After input/output to see if there was a sufficient change in workflow, even if it is incremental. Then you will know how it could be improved, or worth changing it for all members.
How I keep the heroes align
One thing I learned is how much of a pain in the ass it is to onboard new heroes joining the league as I have been on both ends. As we continued to grow in size, so did our software and operational structure to ensure nobody felt lost on day one. To lessen the confusion, I implemented quick training sessions, wrote up a list of software describing its usage and how we implement and gave them a field guide to navigating our baby company. Although this solution is working, I have not been able to measure its scalable to a large employee base, but I can't wait to see that happen.
How do you keep your team together? Tweet to me your story at @BrandonTLuong, or comment below.