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
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!
Want to learn more about organizing workplace barn raisings? See "Organizing a Barn Raising," Point Lookout for August 9, 2006.
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenernoifOyMdDQQgOaner@ChacxNRxNWzUvBnBOpuJoCanyon.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:
- The True Costs of Cubicles
- Although cubicles do provide facility cost savings compared with walled offices, they do so at the price
of product development delays and increased product development costs. Decisions of facilities planners
can have dramatic project schedule impact.
- Give It Your All
- If you have the time and resources to read this, you probably have a pretty good situation, or you have
what it takes to be looking for one. In many ways, you're one of the fortunate few. Are you making the
most of the wonderful things you have? Are you giving it your all?
- Using the Parking Lot
- In meetings, keeping a list we call the "parking lot" is a fairly standard practice. As the
discussion unfolds, we "park" there any items that arise that aren't on the agenda, but which
we believe could be important someday soon. Here are some tips for making your parking lot process more
- How to Procrastinate
- You probably know many techniques for procrastinating, and use them regularly, but vociferously deny
doing so. That's what makes this such a delicate subject that I've been delaying writing this article.
Well, those days are over.
- Clueless on the Concept
- When a team member seems not to understand something basic and important, setting him or her straight
risks embarrassment and humiliation. It's even worse when the person attempting the "straightening"
is wrong, too. How can we deal with people we believe are clueless on the concept?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
- Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
- And on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
- Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenWAzdohzZsPOlTBoMner@ChacOsabsQOMUCptaeZHoCanyon.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 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.