Friday, 10 February 2017

Bringing order to chaos, part two.

Following the last meeting after the BBC lecture, at least we were able to start to flesh out roles and responsibilities of each of the individual students. Thankfully, we were able to do this with the help of Dr Bailey, as I'm still finding my own feet within the group and gaining their trust before making the stronger move forward to try and lead them.

I am pleased that my preparatory work in documenting roles and responsibilities for the team last week has been met with positive feedback. The team have appointed me as the group facilitator and project lead, but I have been quick to try to correct team members from calling me boss! I am merely the hands that provide coordination, and I'm keen to ensure that there is no hierarchical behaviour in this collaborative group. Nevertheless, I think everybody recognises the need for a spokesman, and I'm happy to have adopted this role too.

So now we have clear terms of engagement, together with a better understanding of expectations from what I have started to call "our client" Dr Devlin, I have started to write a short statement which reflects those understandings back to him, in our own language. I think this two-way communication between ourselves as a delivery team, and our client, makes for a much better foundation to work forward with.

Within this memorandum of understanding (MOU), I have also articulated some boundaries on the work that the students are expecting to do. Whilst these boundaries are still loose and somewhat flexible, they do set some conscious limits within the relationship, so that our client does not start to grow his own expectations out of proportion with what the team is capable of delivering, within the timescales. This is a typical project management tool and is often referred to as an MOU, whereas a more detailed and specific planning document tends to be referred to as a Statement of Work (SOW).

I need to be careful not to introduce too many project management jargon terms that people both within the group and outside may not fully understand, but I do have the advantage of calling on my experience to help the team activities stay focused, as well as maintaining a positive mental attitude.

As the first opening event is due to take place on Thursday, 16 February, I intend to informally present the MOU to Dr Devlin for him to read at his own leisure. He will have too many things on the opening night to discuss this I suspect, so I will try to engage in further discussion with him the following week to confirm his expectations meet our own.

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