The Prudent Idea Monster

This is my latest new-to-me find — The Project Shrink.

The post that caught my attention is about the care and feeding of new ideas on an agile project team. Something that is very work-related for me right now. As an idea guy joining a new agile team in progress, I am experiencing concerns of proper assimilation and acceptance because those are critical to my role. So I try to assess:

  • Are they aware of the various Belbin Roles and their value?
  • Who are the “Plants” on the team and how are they cultivated?
  • Do they understand DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats, even if only intuitively?
  • Are all hats represented and respected? Even the Green Hat Guy (e.g yours truly) ?
  • The post admirably makes the care and feeding of ideas the PM’s job. Yeah, I can see that:

    Someone who is scared of an idea will question it, devalue it, and try to steer it to mediocrity, whether they mean to or not…As a PM you have to know who you can bring into an ideas discussion and who you can’t… It is your responsibility to know “who” to include at “what” stage of the development of an idea… Using this technique will hopefully lead to less persecution of “idea monsters” during the project lifecycle…

    But we idea people have responsibility here too. An important contributing factor in this “persecution” of “idea monsters” is Hollander’s Theory of Idiosyncratic Credits. Introducing a new idea threatens group norms, so the effective “idea guy” needs to be aware of his credit “balance” with the group and spend wisely. I am just such an idea guy one month into a new job on a technical team. From my observations of what’s going on, I have some ideas about communication, knowledge management, and standards that I find important to the project goals. I have been testing the waters for those ideas, but have had very little time to grow enough credits to really get them out there. I have to balance my sense of urgency with patience and find the kinds of quotidian credit-earning norm-complying I can do for the team to get to a level of trust where I can make suggestions.

    We idea people seem to be always on the group fringe in certain respects, spanning boundaries, horizon watching, etc. So to be effective, we need to watch out for the team’s perception of our own compliance and support.

    Meanwhile the Project Shrink goes in my Daily Read list.

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