Delivery Vigil#1In my first class in this program (Fall 2008), I was assigned to a team of four total people. We worked well together and communicated in a discussion board, over e-mail, and on conference calls. As it was our first class, our process was not highly organized, but we did choose tasks and each of us contributed our portions within the time frame we elected. One person chose to do the PowerPoint.
On the due date, we were still fine-tuning and reviewing the PowerPoint. By 11pm of the due date, we still have yet to finish and deliver the PowerPoint, even though we had reviewed at least two prior drafts. The person who designed the PowerPoint was also in charge of delivering it, and acknowledged some technical difficulty on his end with uploading the PowerPoint, which was a large file. The other two team members signed off, leaving me and this one person working together to finalize our project.
As the hour ticked down, I began to feel increasingly nervous. I also felt exhausted, having done my part and then some, and now I was up later than I thought healthy for me. I tried to contact him in the discussion board, but he thought I had gone to bed. Given our miscommunication, I panicked. In the absence of other team members who had signed off for the night, I took it on myself to develop a contingency plan. I took the most recent draft, and finished and delivered it myself. I felt terrible doing this. I felt I was stepping on his toes, but in the absence of communication, I had no idea of the project's progress, and I did not want the whole team to suffer a loss when we all had worked hard and well together. I knew each person cared about the quality, including the person designing the PowerPoint.
Turns out I delivered my version a few minutes before he delivered his, but both versions posted minutes before midnight. This was too close to call as far as I was concerned, and we both felt bad, recognizing that the miscommunication led to ambiguity and uncertainty. The moral of the story: design communication and delivery processes that allow for a rigorous and realistic pace without last minute emergencies or mix-ups.
We both followed up with each other to be sure we were still on good fitting. We had done to prior projects together for this class, and have developed a rapport by this time. Thankfully, our relationship as colleagues do not suffer for our mishap, but I learned from this experience that I do not want such a close call, anxiety, and a doubled-up-effort again.
Delivery Vigil#2In another team project, I was left with editing responsibilities for the PowerPoint. I worked 10 hours that day, in addition to about the same number of hours I worked every day for this particular project. Many APA errors needed to be corrected, and as the hours tick down again, towards 8pm PST, I struggled to contact all team members for our "green light" vote. This team project was worth a significant portion of our grade (40%). Given my last experience, I felt uncomfortable delivering the PowerPoint without anyone else's approval. However, I also felt a sense of urgency as my Friday night he came another vigil over a PowerPoint.
As our team designated due date of 8pm PST came, I still had yet to hear from 1 team member's vote to go ahead and post. I had tried everything to contact this person, even texting him. again, I felt I needed to make a difficult decision, and posted the final product even without this one person's vote to do so. I envision myself as a leader who encourages and integrate each person's gifts, competencies, and experiences into a cohesive and collaborative effort. I want to keep my promises, and feel responsible for my team. So I left this experience feeling dissonant, that I had not lived up to my promised standard to myself and to my team, even though I know I have done my best.
These experiences led me to create a task schedule that would allow for each person to contribute their elected tasks and edit and review each other's work. I learned from our current project that it's important to also add a stabilization stage, where 24 hours prior to delivery no more content or edits are done. The only task people do in a stabilization stage is to look over the work and catch any last errors.
Lessons LearnedI find I learn something new with each experience. Now I know the importance of sharing critical tasks creation and delivery with more than one person. Now I know to clarify to the team early on the paramount need for us to communicate in task-chunks based on completion estimates and specific times, and to collaborate over critical projects and deliveries.
A Collaborative Task & Delivery DesignThus, I advocate collaboration of at least 2 people for critical deliverables. This model provides a fail-safe. This model also reduces ambiguity and anxiety involving limited communication, thereby creating a more healthy and positive experience for everyone, and to integrate each person's strength, to allow for greater accountability, to reduce team anxiety on delivery day, and to honor each person's choice in electing a given task.
High-Performing TeamsUltimately, as Denning (2005), I believe a high-performance team collaborates and is flexible and can adapt on-the-fly, transforming stress to success. I hope my above story helps everyone to understand our reasons behind this change. We want each person to have a quality team experience and to integrate each person's ingenuity and strengths for the benefit of the team and the final product.
Thank you for reading,