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coding for the proletariat since 1977

Blind Man’s Bluff

The project I am on could easily be likened to one of the popular team challenges on Survivor. Frequently the two tribes are presented with a scattered set of puzzle pieces that must be collected and then assembled. The catch is that all but one team member is blindfolded, and the sighted team member must verbally guide his or her team to each piece and back to the collection point.

In my current engagement we, the consultants, are tasked with mentoring the client on using the Rational Unified Process (RUP) as the methodology for creating new applications. The push to adopt RUP came from the top down, so there are varying degrees of acceptance among the client resources on the various RUP-enabled teams. So far the work has consisted of heated discussions about concepts and language, with lengthy digressions into document formatting battles. In my case there is one team member who is fighting every new concept, every iteration over material, every bit of the new direction. It is massively frustrating.

Up until now we have had the charter to produce the analysis and design models for the application, and were expecting to be tasked with providing some form of post-design support to the implementation team(s). Yesterday we got word of a change in policy that is headed our way. The business management team is concerned that having the consultants lead the design effort while mentoring the employees won’t transfer enough practical knowledge to the employees. So the new direction that is being considered is consultants leading and participating in analysis activites only, while mentoring the client team through design.

Mentoring design?

Should this approach be adopted my days will consist of sitting in a chair behind the client resource telling them where to click, what to type, and how to complete the artifact at hand. Instead of doing the design with them, I’ll be reduced to an entirely hands off "blind man’s bluff" style of interaction. There is a challenge here, do I know the design techniques well enough to teach unwilling and poorly motivated resources? Can I find ways of motivating them to use new concepts and tools, when they disagree that there is a need for a new approach altogether?

And the largest challenge of all, can I motivate myself to stay here and relinquish an active part in the creation of the design? Or are my needs as a professional met only when I have an active part in the production of my assigned design goals?

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Filed under: Project Management

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