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? rbreneDxtsDXUXtKZZJZZner@ChacheTJCEFsfUxBRnDfoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Taming the Time Card
- Filling out time cards may seem maddeningly trivial, but the data they collect can be critically important
to project managers. Why is it so important? And what does an effective, yet minimally intrusive time
reporting system look like?
- Coaching and Haircuts
- Lifelong learners use a variety of approaches, usually relying heavily on reading. Reading works well
for some ideas and techniques, especially for those with limited emotional content. For adding other
skills and perceptions, consider a personal coach.
- Four Popular Ways to Mismanage Layoffs: I
- When layoffs are necessary, the problems they are meant to address are sometimes exacerbated by mismanagement
of the layoff itself. Here is Part I of a discussion of four common patterns of mismanagement, and some
suggestions for those managers and other employees who recognize the patterns in their own companies.
- Speak for Influence
- Among the factors that determine the influence of contributions in meetings are the content of the contribution
and how it fits into the conversation. Most of the time, we focus too much on content and not enough on fit.
- Patching Up the Cracks
- When things repeatedly "fall through the cracks," we're not doing the best we can. How can
we deal with the problem of repeatedly failing to do what we need to do? How can we patch up the cracks?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 27: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: I
- In meetings we sometimes feel the need to interrupt others to offer a view or information, or to suggest adjusting the process. But such interruptions carry risk of offense. How can we interrupt others safely? Available here and by RSS on June 27.
- And on July 4: Interrupting Others in Meetings Safely: II
- When we feel the need to interrupt someone who's speaking in a meeting, to offer a view or information, we would do well to consider (and mitigate) the risk of giving offense. Here are some techniques for interrupting the speaker in situations not addressed by the meeting's formal process. Available here and by RSS on July 4.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrensMoYiamOFJcLBWJBner@ChacZWdLIcOuaftXwxPfoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Race to the South Pole: The Power of Agile Development
- On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald
Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen
had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished.
As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. Lessons abound. Among the more important
lessons are those that demonstrate the power of the agile approach to project management and product
development. Read more about this program. Here's
a date for this program:
- Ohio National Insurance, 1 Financial Way, Blue Ash, OH: July
Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati
chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
- Ohio National Insurance, 1 Financial Way, Blue Ash, OH: July 17, Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Register now.
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people 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.