Saturday, September 24, 2005

Protocol : For Communication + Note Exchange

This is a sample protocol document that we used to recognized different types of communication. Even though it looks too detailed, the document faded into the background over time and the behaviour stayed with us.

This protocol helped us to differentiate between various types and communications. We differentiated between a note exchange, a discussion, a meeting, a presentation, a workshop and a conference. We even had mini versions of workshops called plug-in workshops to accomodate those informal impromptu communication sesions.

What is a Note?
· An informal, objective project information-exchange between two team members.
· A note is not written if the other team member is physically present.
· This would consume not more than five minutes of the team members' time. It is the equivalent of a real-world short conversation between two people.

Project Procedures
How is a Note exchanged and between whom?
A NOTE is exchanged as a simple e-mail message or Chat.
It is exchanged between any two employees.

Team Directives
Properties of a Note
· The Note sent by email shall have a subject and shall follow this format if sent via email.
COMPANY Project Code + Unit Name + Task name
For Example: SA + Library + QA Implementation

Who shall you CC it to and who shall you not CC it to?
· The Note shall be exchanged between two people only. A copy [of an intra assignment note] could be marked to other team members for information purposes.
· A Project Note should not be marked to the people other than the one who it is sent to unless a direct response from them is solicited.

Inter-Assignment NOTE
Inter-Assignment NOTES are exchanged across assignments and usually between assignment leads. Any such Note falls under one of the following Category.

Types of NOTES
· Status Information · A Query · Response to Query

Friday, September 23, 2005

People: Team Identity

In the beginning of 2005 one of my managers took charge of a professional services team in 2 cities in India. We did that because we wanted to expand our team there and take advantage of the talent that was available in that team.

We decided to practice what we preach and hired local managers for both the locations. The integration was successful and the team is now working as a well oiled machine. One the managers in Hyderabad is JP. During a recent team meeting he mentioned that the team considers the association with the US team as a valuable thing. Our team has an Identity that plays an important role in our collaboration.

We have a single email group alias and information is shared frequently. Our meetings and training programs are conducted during hours that are convenient for most locations using the tools that I have talked about in this Journal. We always write the minutes of our meetings and share them using our collaboration site so that all of us can read, edit and update the information. Those team members who do not participate benefit from these detailed minutes.

We are very happy with the investment we have made in creating and maintaining this team identity. Our team members from the India locations have started working with clients directly. It is now considered normal for our India team members to take on consulting assignments with US clients.

I believe that team identities can play an important role in enabling collaboration between distributed teams. Despite being distributed across the US, India and Europe, our team identifies itself as a single entity. We have common values and traits and we go to a great extend to share that with new hires and junior team members. JP is the knowledge manager for the team and is in charge of managing the training of new team members no matter where they are hired. One of our senior consultants designs and runs the training.

There is a good article from Harvard Business Review on this if you are interested in reading more about this.
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