I suggest you ...

Align team leader with charities sooner

A few of us received our team leader assignments and were asked to contact the charities. The charities were surprised that we were calling them again to prep for the weekend, and team leaders were suprised that the charities had already been contacted.

I know this is challenging to get right - matching soft skills, tech skills, team experience, and charity needs. As possible, consider assigning team leaders on a rolling basis as good fits are found.

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    Bill WilderBill Wilder shared this idea  ·   ·  Admin →

    17 comments

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      • Bill WilderBill Wilder commented  · 

        Re: @Jim - "does it make sense to have PM's walk in on Friday evening with "Ideal Project Scope" already defined, and from there adjust based on resources?"

        A very personal reaction to this: I find great value in drawing out requirements first-hand. (A viewpoint forged during my time in corporate world.) The shared learning that comes with discussing the [business] problems at hand (which always have more than one possible [technical] remedy) is invaluable, as is the collective buy-in regarding the agreed-upon solution.

      • Bill WilderBill Wilder commented  · 

        Is it a goal of Give Camp to timebox (virtually) everything to the 45 hours (Fri night to Sunday early evening)? One small exception being for PMs and NPOs (who talk in advance) and one huge exception for camp organizers.

      • JimJim commented  · 

        I'm in agreement with Yan Peng. In the weeks leading to GC, I was eager to get started, and frustrated that little progress was apparent from the outside -- though I was sure the GC Admins were working like crazy. Perhaps this process can be made more productive by opening it up to the GC community?

        For example, once a Charity project is green-lighted -- (meaning perhaps that a PM has accepted the project) -- maybe the project and its talent requirements are posted online to the Campers, who then volunteer for it (maybe on a first, second, third choice basis)? PMs could then follow through with their prospective volunteers in advance of the weekend.

        The major work of the GC Admins would be vetting PMs and NPOs (and organizing the Event)

      • JimJim commented  · 

        Also, does it make sense to have PM's walk in on Friday evening with "Ideal Project Scope" already defined, and from there adjust based on resources?

      • JimJim commented  · 

        Personally, I don't think the "break the ice by sharing two things about yourself" idea has much merit (sorry Bill, no soup for you!), nor did I think the coloring exercise we did Friday ended up being a particularly good use of time. Seems to me that a more structured, "Discuss your strongest skills with the team" conversation within teams (or even the broader group) would be much more productive. Perhaps circulate a document with head shots and say 3 bullets of "strongest skills" per volunteer to help align talent with projects?

      • Bill WilderBill Wilder commented  · 

        Would it help to have a team "bonding" or "break-the-ice" exercise at the opening all-hands session Fri night? For example, a game where everyone shared 2 things most people don't know about them. Kelley could facilitate from the front of the room, and all teams could do it, but the excercise is only within each team.

      • Bill WilderBill Wilder commented  · 

        @Yan Peng - do you think Facebook could be used as a reasonable tool (photos are there, other capabilities)?

      • Yan PengYan Peng commented  · 

        Pre-event collaboration tool
        The team assignment was posted very close to start. Sometimes the team does not know each other until last minute. We may need a tool that let the volunteers to post their profiles, match-up, get to know each other. After the participating charities are finalized, also enables the team member to communicate with their clients. This would help scoping the project and keeping out the surprises. If the teams can be formed naturally, it also reduced the amount of work to the organizer.

      • Bill WilderBill Wilder commented  · 

        Good job in 2012 with team leader roles (as far as I can tell). In my 3 years I have yet to experience first-hand any leadership issues.

        One (halfhearted) thought if there is concern about inexperienced leads being a bit over their heads: similar to technology-specific specialists, consider a team-lead resource. Not sure if those in need of it would recognize it though. :-)

        Also consider that very few people from the "real world" have experience spinning up a project, meeting and gelling a team, defining and delivering a complete project, and all compressed into a sleep-deprived weekend. It is hard to optimize.

        All said, these are brainstorm ideas only, as NEGC is rocking as it is. Any changes to better would be only tweaks.

      • Kelley MuirKelley Muir commented  · 

        We try to rely on people knowing if they feel comfortable being able to PM a project when they sign up between that and giving them the option to choose what project they feel comfortable working on. We did have a few cases this year where the PM let me know they felt very Jr. in which case I would make sure I pared them will at least one developer who was skilled at management and able to assist. Maybe making sure the PMs know when they are choosing their project that they can tell me if they might need more assistance would be the best option?

        I'd hate to step back in the position where we have too many PMs- even if one is Jr... It's hard to execute a project in a weekend, never mind when you have two people managing what you are expected to do :)

      • RachelRachel commented  · 

        Whups, out of votes so I can't post a new thread, so, related:

        I'd also say it's worth considering NOT allowing first timers to be a PM moving forward - despite my personal success the first year, I do wonder how much more could have been done if I'd understood the GC process by having run through one from a less critical angle. Or, (radical and not entirely appealing to me idea), there needs to be a vetting and invitation based system to get PMs in the door, or possibly a one year "junior" PM status, where a would-be PM is assigned to work with an experienced PM as junior lead on a project. In that case, it could possibly ease the burden on the PMs who handle multiple smaller projects - they can team lead, then leave details to their protege PMs. May be a little too hierarchically complex for such a short period. My concern is, having a good PM can make or break the project - how do we help avoid failures from the get go?

      • RachelRachel commented  · 

        Short answer is that generally, yes, I think there were marked improvements from 2 to 3. Longer one is that I think there's more to be done for optimal success. I've actually been pondering this one extensively and I think it may require splitting up the volunteer registration into an earlier phase for potential PMs and a later one for tech teams so PMs can help guide the needs of their organization's project.

      • Kelley MuirKelley Muir commented  · 

        I'd like to see if people thought this was improved from Year 2 to Year 3. Managing nonprofit- team lead introductions and distinguishing Team Leads/PMs as a separate role was something we actively worked on this year. I know it wasn't perfect... We never seem to have enough time to before the event. Let me know if you think we are headed in the right direction.

      • Joan WortmanJoan Wortman commented  · 

        Absolutely.
        I suggest we abandon agile for such a short project where pair programming is naturally occurring.

        Also that we don't overload the teams with too many leaders and not enough developers. One team lead is enough, and if that team lead is agile then that's great.

        Enough time before the project to plan accordingly and set up development environments, resource and get clear direction from the NPO would be great. Maybe about 3 weeks if possible.

        Solution would be not to use agile (since the weekend is too short) or to use it more judiciously.

      • Karen Favazza SpencerKaren Favazza Spencer commented  · 

        Absolutely! Additionally, the lack of clarity around "PM/Lead" roles can create uncomfortable circumstances and mixed messages. The short duration of the event just encourages people to let it ride, when that really isn't in the best interest of anyone.

      • Steve DaukasSteve Daukas commented  · 

        I think some of this has to do with assigning project managers to nonprofits to do the "Agile story thang" so maybe some advance coordination between team leads and the PMs would be a good thing...

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