Managing a Project – Getting an A-Team and a Mission to Come Together – p124-q2

p 124-2

You have been hired as a project manager and you have assembled a team of ten people to design and create a five-day orientation program for nurses hired at a hospital. Four people are in town, three are one state away, and three are across the country. You will be able to meet only with some. You have medical SMEs, nurses, instructional designers, a writer, and a graphic artist.

How will you convey project objectives and enthusiasm? How will you monitor people and products? How will you give feedback? Finally, how will you celebrate the end of a successful project?

 

 

Getting an A-Team and a Mission to Come Together

Using the A-Team as one of many recurring examples of multi-disciplined teamwork (other examples from TV history would be Mission Impossible, Star Trek TNG, to name a few) promotes the argument that accomplishing a complex project with multifaceted goals requires not only various individuals with knowledge and skills, but interaction and coordinated execution as a team as well. Thus, it is no surprise that effective communication amongst all team members through the project is paramount.

For this particular scenario, the end users and clients are, for me, one and the same: the new nurses. Though I may be hired by the hospital administration/HRD, the goal of introducing new hires to their tasks and environment is the immediate objective, hence my team’s focus shall be designing and conducting an effective orientation for them. However, it will be most useful to make all parties (from the hospital admin, nurses, SMEs, designers and staff) aware of how the orientation program is one part of a larger goal of healthcare as path towards the life aspiration of wellness of being.

By sharing this larger goal to the whole design team at the start, I hope to intrinsically motivate every member as individually different, yet equally important colleagues in the making and delivering of an effective orientation program (with this noble aim in mind). Therefore, moderated participation and discussion, rather than prescription, would be the more ideal (and practical) path during these early stages onward. Now, because some team members are close by, some are a state away, and others are across the country (different time zones), it makes sense to establish 1) a physical venue for face-to-face meetings (esp. crucial milestones, for those who can and wish to meet physically), 2) an online/virtual meeting venue such as a webcam conference call or Second Life for regular meets (seeing a form of a face is an aspect I wish to keep when possible), and 3), cloud “stops” such as a Facebook group page, Gmail, Google docs, and Dropbox online storage.

It will be valuable for every team member to become aware of how this goal of wellness of being, initiated through a successful orientation program, will need each person’s expertise, in different forms, degrees, and at different times along the project design sequence. Teamwork declared as essential may further the motivation and expand the sense of gain beyond the self. This would serve as an opportune time to propose an initial structure of team organization, defining each participant-specialist’s: a) distinct role (expertise, tasks, and deliverables), b) connections with everyone in general, and with some team members in particular. Discussion at this moment is crucial to achieve the two objectives of 1) clarifying/modifying each person’s scope of work 2) expressing the importance of keeping everyone updated and, thus, defining the guidelines of regular communication with the group, and particular communication with team members that warrant special task relationships. It is essential that these first steps be undertaken definitively to lay dependable platform or environment upon which everyone can refer to and operate by.

Once the project team members have signed off on these defined roles, scopes, and relationships, the team now discusses the issue of coordination and sequence, again with an initial proposed structure. This time, the tasks and communication-links set against a timeline serve to inform every team member when their role, tasks, and deliverables are in play, as well as how and when they relate to another team member’s responsibilities. Discussion clarifies how communication with each other sustains momentum while updating everyone of the project’s general progress, and particular parties of detailed progress reviews (updates here with the timeline map, check-off lists, and periodic meets may be uploaded to Facebook while instruction design drafts in development may be transmitted via email or Dropbox).

For example timeline steps may include:

  • SMEs and nurses (SMEs in their own right) connect with the instructional designers to define the desired goals  and content of the orientation program.
  • Designers analyze the needs and gaps, detail the strategies, and generate the instruction program with the help of the writer and the graphic artist.
  • These first drafts are then reviewed with the SMEs and nurses for content correctness and language clarity. Review of the content may also include the participation of selected new hires.
  • Measures to correct and improve the instruction program are taken and are reviewed again. (This cycling loop of formative evaluation presents itself as a realistic method to refine instruction content, delivery method, learner participation and retention.)
  • Upon passing final review approval by concerned parties, the orientation program is scheduled and conducted. Monitoring of its progress and effectiveness shall be done via documentation and uploaded for the team to review and evaluate in summative fashion for writing out the final recommendations in final reports to the hospital client.

Communication at every phase with the different team members is the volition lifeblood of this project. Timely communication sustains these collaborative relationships, updating everybody of every one’s progress and contributions. Part of the communication will be qualitative, referring back to the larger picture of wellness in health, thus keeping the intrinsic motivation in awareness. This can segue with the exchange that inquires about colleagues’ well-being, knowing how they are feeling, what their situation is, acknowledging their expertise, effort, and creative genius at work.

The other part of the communication will be detailed and focused feedback (evaluation discussions) on the immediate tasks at hand, and their progress against schedules. With precisely worded feedback, the recipient may receive accurate information on how effective (or limited) their work outputs are, and what refinement actions to take accordingly. Constant communication is even more crucial with team members that are not able to meet physically. A communication style that highlights continuous progression and improvement will activate corresponding vocabulary that is critically constructive, rather than just being critical.

Periodic communication that exhibits combined aspects of structure, caring, quality, and yes, even firmness shall prove to be pragmatically beneficial to the delivery of outputs, reviews, improvements, and ultimately, the realization of the project, the fulfillment of the project team members, and the achievement of the project beneficiaries.

Credits are due to everyone involved and a “graduation” ceremony may be held (in sync with the successful conclusion of the orientation program). Newly trained nurses get their orientation certificate, senior nurses receive recognition for being mentors, SMEs are similarly recognized for expertise, and designers (incl. the writer and artist) are given commendations for their generation of content and program. Out of state participants are invited to this ceremony. Those who are too far away to attend may hopefully join online or may be given an upload of the celebration. And yes, everyone also gets paid their due. Party!

 

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~ by bdytoc on October 1, 2012.

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