Friday, May 4, 2012

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Somewhere between that magic time when we are very young, to becoming an adult, we seem to lose the ability to have fun.

When we are young, we take delight in the world around us.  As we get  older, we start to see problems instead of opportunities, work instead of play, limitations instead of freedom.  The list goes on, but I am sure you get the idea.

Is this a problem, or is it just reality?  I vote that it is a problem, because in the process, we start to lose creativity.  As my son so nicely points out on his own blog, we are taught to color within the lines, because it is "wrong" to do otherwise.  We ensure (at least most of the time) that we follow the rules of others, instead of our own rules.

Perhaps worst of all, we start to accept things as they are instead of as we would like them to be.

What has all this got to do with project management?   In my last post, I talked about the "one most important thing", the importance of focus on and commitment to project goals.   As Steve Jobs was fond of saying (just before he announced yet another amazing product from Apple) there is "one more thing" that we should embrace for our projects to be successful, and that is the importance of "having fun" on our project.

If you are lucky, having fun is part of the culture of your organization.  We can debate at some other time whether the reported Apple culture of secrecy and paranoia bred by Steve Jobs is something to be emulated, since it has somehow produced such stellar results to date for Apple.

But I think it is true to say that for most people and for most organizations, the ability to have fun and enjoy what you do is a better ingredient for success than living in fear of your boss, or working in an atmosphere of paranoia and secrecy  When you and your project team are having fun, there is likely to be more creativity, more trust and more productive team work then when there is fear, distrust and conflict within the team.  If your team is having fun, then your project is more likely to be successful.

So how do you make sure that you and your project team are having fun.  Is it just a matter of having more pizza Fridays, a casual dress policy and team picnics?  These may certainly help, but we need to go much deeper than this.

Ask your project team what is needed for them to have fun on your project, and I don't believe you will find that Pizza Fridays is high on their list.  You will more likely find that improving communications, better team work, and helping them achieve their personal goals and develop their technical and managerial skills will rank much higher.

As a result of making your project a fun place to work, you will also be making it more productive and successful as well.  And as Martha might say, that can only be a good thing.

Your assignment:  Do a short "Are We Having Fun" plus/delta session with your project team at your next team meeting, and please share the results with us.
  • Plus:    What are the things that make our project fun to work on?
  • Delta:  What are the things we (as a project team, and I the Project Manager) need to do to make it more fun to work on our project?

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