Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hallway Chat Projects

With all of our productivity tools we use to communicate and make decisions on projects, hallway conversions can still drive the everyday decisions and information sharing. The problem is that there’s no way to forward a decision or share information beyond the folks that have the conversation.

Sometimes the conversation is summarized, but usually it turns into action and surprises other team members. It’s the surprise that is a sign that the vehicles of communication of a large company are still not being used. The small company mentality is still there.

Small businesses that grow to large ones slowly have this issue more than ones that grow quickly. The slow growth makes it possible for the relationships and behaviors to stay the way they were without too much change. Fast growth usually brings in MBAs who have learned the structure and designs of past organizations that have “worked”. The case study of fast growth breaks up the old patterns of hallway communications.

So, applying this to IT projects and large project communication, you can experience the symptoms of this hallway phenomenon as the tasks progress beyond the planning stage. When the doers are engaged in the discussions, the scope of the project is usually torn apart. The hallway decisions are fast and furious. The project starts with members shaking their heads. The more experienced team members follow along, but secretly see the gaps. If they speak up, the project manager, who by this time has had a hallway agreement on the deadline, overrides their concerns and pledges to consider them.

The final result of hallway projects is that the project manager moves onto to a new position. The implementation of the project is done, but the fixes and stabilization are painful and disruptive. 

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