Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 18;   May 2, 2001: Make a Project Family Album

Make a Project Family Album

by

Like a traditional family album, a project family album has pictures of people, places, and events. It builds connections, helps tie the team together, and it can be as much fun to look through as it is to create.

Working closely with colleagues for months or years, we experience many of the same kinds of emotions as we do in families — frustration, happiness, pain, and joy. The joy that a family album provides at home is just as wonderful in a project. One difference — since so many project teams are geographically dispersed, a physical album doesn't share well. Put it on the Intranet.

The project family album
helps people who work
at a distance to get
to know each other
The little things in life knit us together. Include pictures of the test team on their weekly sushi outing, or the team leads at their pizza lunch. If Phil is known for a new mobile in his cubicle every month, include pictures of the monthly mobile. If Marian is known for the Internet humor she posts on her door, ask her to archive it to the album too. Include a map of the office or cube locations of all the team members at your site. If the buzz today is about the grotesque painting that appeared in the lobby last week in Greenville, put a picture of it in the album, so other parts of the team can see what everyone is talking about. Don't forget captions and interpretive paragraphs — they can be more fun than the photos.

Your album can be a real organizational asset, as it contributes to a positive working culture. Here are just a few ways:

Better connections
In dispersed teams, some people never actually meet in person. The project family album helps people who work at a distance to get to know each other. It's surprising how much it helps to know what people look like if your only experience of them is through telephone or email.
The inaccessible cubicles at Diamond Square
Great memories
If your project has a kickoff party, a release party, or just a Friday lunch, get snaps of people having a good time together. These images are especially amusing if the parties have themes. And months later, they'll take you back to some fun times.
Productive meetings
When a dispersed team does meet, and people who have never met have to work together, they'll do better if they've had access to a project family album. They will already know what the players look like, what the environment looks like, and what the conference rooms and local lunch places look like. All of this helps smooth out the meetings for the people who come from other sites.
Pictorial history
For large projects, it can be difficult to put names and faces together, especially after the project ends. But later on, when you want to staff your next project, the project family album can help refresh your memory.

There are powerful business reasons for making an album, but most important, it's just plain fun. Go to top Top  Next issue: Dealing with Your Own Anger  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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More articles on Project Management:

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Much of the conventional wisdom about teams is in the form of over-generalized rules of thumb, or myths. In this first part of our survey of teamwork myths, we examine two myths about forming teams.
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Some projects have detractors so determined to prevent project success that there's very little they won't do to create conditions for failure. Here's Part I of a catalog of tactics they use.
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Mountaineers often experience "false summits," when just as they thought they were nearing the summit, it turns out that there is much more climbing to do. So it is in project work.

See also Project Management and Virtual and Global Teams for more related articles.

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In some meetings, we collaborate not in reaching objectives, but in preventing our doing so. Here are three examples of this pattern. Available here and by RSS on September 27.
A typical standup meetingAnd on October 4: Meeting Troubles: Culture
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Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

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The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

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