The more important the project, the less effective the team

Posted by Robert Merrill on September 21, 2009 under Software teams, Software-Intensive Businesses | Be the First to Comment

Think that your software team performs best under pressure?

Not if what a Harvard Business School professor learned about other knowledge workers—auditors and consultants—applies to programmers, too.

In Feeling the Heat: The Effects of Performance Pressure on Teams’ Knowledge Use and Performance, Heidi Gardner explains that the pressure triggers “threat rigidity,” and causes “reduced cognitive processing.” Teams under pressure are also more likely to defer to “high-status” team members, rather than make full use of those with the most relevant, specific expertise.

Prof. Gardner’s research involved 72 teams of management consultants and auditors across twenty regional offices of a Big Four firm.

Leading a software-intensive business means overseeing some high-stakes projects–there’s no way around it. But don’t assume that the people doing the work will respond to the pressure the way you do.

Madison IIBA follow-up

Posted by Robert Merrill on September 15, 2009 under Agile BA, Agile Methods, Business Analysis and Requirements | Be the First to Comment

I gave a presentation on “The Role of the BA in an Agile Environment” at the meeting of the Madison chapter of the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) on Tuesday 9/15/2009. Because I delivered the presentation like an Agile project, with the audience developing a “product backlog” of topics for me to present in priority order, I had deliberately prepared more material than I had time for.

For you Madison IIBAers who’ve come here looking for the material, I haven’t posted my PowerPoint slides (and don’t plan to) because they aren’t able to stand on their own. As I get the chance, I’ll turn some of them into blog posts. Please let me know what would be most valuable to you and I’ll work on that first, according to the “maximize value within constraints” principle.

And thank you for being such a high-energy audience. I had a blast, but was totally wiped out when I left for home. I know that the Agile methods are rocking your world, and I want to help you, to quote Kent Beck, “Embrace Change,” if I can.