Things turned quiet, because the three of them were stumped. Jane absently swirled what was left of her coffee in her mug. To break the silence, Judith asked, "So you've got the space, but not the money to move the library into that space? Do I have that right, Dave?"
"Right," he replied. "It's idiotic."
Jane stopped swirling her coffee and looked up. "What about a barn raising?"
Dave and Judith stared. They'd heard of barn raisings, but they couldn't make the connection between barns and library moves in high tech companies.
Jane saw their confusion, so she explained. "We can afford cardboard boxes — we just can't afford movers. So we get some boxes, tag them with shelf numbers, tag the shelves, and then get everybody in the building to pack the books, dolly the boxes to the new space, and then unpack them onto the tagged shelves in the new space."
Dave got it. "Brilliant. But where does the barn come in?" Dave was smart — up to a point.
Judith explained. "There's no barn, Dave. It's not a real barn raising, but it's like a barn raising, everybody pitching in."
And for this task, it just might work. What kinds of tasks can we tackle with a barn-raising approach?We can manage some
of the work we do
as if it were a
barn raising, with
everyone pitching in
- The task isn't part of normal operations
- Any task that you do rarely or one time only is a candidate. Culling file cabinets twice a year, or organizing shared laboratory space are good examples.
- Benefits accrue across the organization
- If only a small segment of the organization benefits, a barn raising isn't likely to be viewed as a community project, especially if it's a one-of-a-kind project. But improving a shared facility could work well. For instance, reorganizing or moving a library could be a successful community effort.
- We can apply enough effort in one day to get the job done
- Choose projects that permit the work to be spread over enough people to get it done in one day. The reward of successful completion, with a celebration party, is essential to building a sense of community achievement.
- The task is real rather than virtual
- Even though we have many possible virtual projects in the modern workplace that might be handled with a barn raising approach, real projects are better candidates. They cause people to work side-by-side, where they have opportunities to talk, to meet each other in unfamiliar circumstances, and to form and renew relationships.
Even if you have the right kind of task, organizing a barn raising takes planning and skill. Next time, we'll harvest some knowledge from traditional barn raisings to help make your modern barn raising a success. Top Next Issue
Want to learn more about organizing workplace barn raisings? See "Organizing a Barn Raising," Point Lookout for August 9, 2006.
Are your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenCArXLDbGauhwaOmlner@ChacRjEsOSJLtexHrtuRoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 23: Look Where You Aren't Looking
- Being blindsided by an adverse event could indicate the event's sudden, unexpected development. It can also indicate a failure to anticipate what could have been reasonably anticipated. How can we improve our ability to prepare for adverse events? Available here and by RSS on August 23.
- And on August 30: They Just Don't Understand
- When we cannot resolve an issue in open debate, we sometimes try to explain the obstinacy of others. The explanations we favor can tell us more about ourselves than they do about others. Available here and by RSS on August 30.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenkTPMyIdGxkuGbQoDner@ChacfMgfGEQHtQdESqKWoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
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- The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
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Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen
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As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business
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more about this program. Here are some dates for this program:
- The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, 4535 Commerce Street,
Virginia Beach, VA 23462: September 13,
Monthly Meeting, Hampton Roads Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- CTCPA, 716 Brook Street,
Rocky Hill, CT 06067: September 20,
Full-day Workshop, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, 4535 Commerce Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23462: September 13, Monthly Meeting, Hampton Roads Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
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Read more about this program. Here's a date for this
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