Wait…How is Dynamics Easy?

February 28, 2017 by
Filed under: Agility, Process 

In my last post, I asserted it doesn’t make sense to put together a static process for something that is as dynamic as the human endeavour of collaborating on projects. Despite my suggestion that dynamic analysis is more complex than static analysis, I even asserted that this approach easier than you might think.

Let me be a bit more nuanced here.

Many teams seem resigned bringing in an external consultant in to help derive an approach for working together, particularly those branded approaches. This is the foundation of much of the consulting industry, and I believe this brings marginal, temporary improvement at best.

There are actually plenty of reasons for thinking dynamically about how we work together on our own. We best understand the context of the work we are doing, our culture, and the skill set that we collectively have at our disposal. When we solve the challenge in front of us, we are empowered, we own the solution – it hasn’t been handed to us.

What’s more important, though, is that thinking about your approach as dynamic rather than static – different for each challenge, and even different from day to day based on whatever issues you are facing at the moment – brings an approach that is way more relevant. Relevance begets that ease – the challenge is more easily resolved with a relevant solution.

Think about how you deal with relationships. Let’s say you are in a close relationship with someone, and some consultant comes by and suggest that how you interact needs more structure (in this context, though, they might call themselves a counsellor or coach).

Maybe they’ll suggest a description of the scope of what you are going to do together over the next 6 months. That one of you will capture, perhaps on index cards.

Or an expectation that you should get together (maybe with the kids) every day at 9:00 so you each have an opportunity to talk about what you did yesterday, what you intend to do today, and what’s stopping you from getting things done.

Oh, and you’ll all stand up in that meeting, to reduce the likelihood that anyone just rambles on.

You know from experience that this approach won’t work, as life doesn’t submit to these approaches. The toilet gets plugged, your best friend drops by unannounced. The school calls and little Bobby has been in a fight, you discover you’ve hit the jackpot in the lottery (OK, so that last one is a bit far fetched).

So far today, at just after 10:00 in the morning, there have been 6 things that have popped that have changed what I’m doing for the rest of the day, and adjusted my schedule well into next week. Life and projects are more akin to bushwhacking a straightforward path, and a static map of practices that may have worked in some other context won’t get you far.

Just because an approach optimized production lines in the 20th century doesn’t make it a reasonable candidate for knowledge work today. If you standardize your approach and become dogmatic about how you get things done, you stumble when things don’t go as planned (and they won’t), and you are blind to opportunities that arise (and they will).

We all have experience in relationships. Be intentional, be appreciative, be flexible be in the moment, and you’ll be better off. Continuously build on your skills and understand when they might be relevant. Be a student of a wide variety of approaches, but don’t statically apply them.

Projects are a set of complex, dynamic relationships. Don’t try to distill them to the point of absurdity – not everything is a nail. – JB

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