5 Exercises To Bootstrap Culture. | Project Shrink

5 Exercises To Bootstrap Culture.

February 6, 2011 4 Comments

Bootstrappingrevealing a group culture.

A culture is the element of a group that keeps its members together, committed to a shared cause. And as creating a culture can be creepy, bootstrapping uses storytelling, metaphors and visualization exercises to, well, bootstrap the process in a non-creepy way.

Happy Bootstrapping.

1. The Story Of Your Quest – Multi-media Storytelling.

The reason why your project exists, is because it has to fulfill a goal, create an end result. In bootstrapping lingo that is The Quest, the pursuit of something worthwhile.

The goal of your project or organization is a powerful mechanism for alignment. Everyone is working towards the same result. But first you have to make sure they all have the same understanding of what “done” looks like.

In this exercise every team member must be involved. This means basically that everyone gets together and is involved in the “creation” of, in this case, the goal. If people are involved you get acceptance and engagement, multiple point of views, and alignment.

I don’t think redefining your organizations goals are feasible, but that’s fine. Important is to create a common understanding, a common view of these goals. One story. Preferably a visual one. Because pictures still say more than something else. Or video says more. I am not sure.

With all new gadgets available, and low tech solutions, your team will create a multi-media representation of what in their opinion is the company, project or department story. They can use their mobile phones to take picture or record short movies, use magazines to create a visual collage or interview their coworkers and write a short story.

Core is the question: what do you think is Our Quest?

Discuss the results with the group and create a collective story of The Quest.

What does “done” look like?

2. Your Project As An Adventure – Using Metaphors.

Metaphors are useful to get a common understanding, a common narrative of a project. By using fun and accessible stories it is easier to understand and less intimidating than flashing Excel grids and plans around.

Metaphors can also facilitate the emergence of a group culture. If you talk about your project in the context of The Wizard of Oz, some common phrases might stick among your team members. They might keep calling you Dorothy. Or refer to The Plan as The Yellow Brick Road.

A good starting point is to focus on the sequence of events in a project. Following a chronological timeline. The events that lead up to The Quest.

I suggest two metaphors for this purpose: The Project Adventure Map and Movies As A Metaphor.

They focus on the sequence of events, their relationship with The Quest, and the roles of the individual team members. Why are you part of this team, or in bootstrapping language, this ragtag crew?

For those who need more structure to the storyline, The Hero’s Journey can be of great help.

Follow these links for more information about The Project Adventure Map and Movies As A Metaphor.

3. The Stakeholder Adventure Map

The normal Adventure Map has a focus on events, the Stakeholder Adventure Map does focus on, you’ve guessed it, stakeholders.

Stakeholder analysis is a technique to identify and analyze the stakeholders surrounding a project. It provides information on stakeholders and their relationships and expectations. A proper analysis of the stakeholders will help you to construct a project approach suited to the situation and will allow you to negotiate better with the stakeholders.

In this exercise you draw a line that flows towards the goal. Not a straight line. Create the suggestion that the Big Adventure is one that includes obstacles and challenges. The openness and flow stimulate creativity. It suggests you have room to think.

The next step is concerned with the question “Who are the stakeholders?”

For this, you basically draw people or smileys along your project road map. What is the first time they pop up? That’s the place where you draw them on the flow. If you draw them closer towards your path, they have more influence, are more important. Often you start with the obvious stakeholders, and the longer you talk about it, the more crowded the whiteboard gets.

Click here for more information about Stakeholder Adventure Maps.

4. The Yellow Brick Road – Are We There Yet?

The trip along the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard Of Oz is long. Just like your project. With a lot of turns and twists. And mountains that block your view. From where you are standing you cannot see the end. How do you know you’re on the right track?

You don’t want to travel a long distance to notice in the end that you went the wrong way. And people tend to get nervous when they have no idea of how far they are. Like stakeholders in a project.

For this exercise, on a white board you draw a yellow road, with turns and twists and obstacles blocking the view from one turn to another.

Ask your stakeholders what they are expecting “to see” along the road. Start with the end in mind and work your way back. Before they go to production, what are they expecting to get? (Did someone just think “acceptance criteria”?) Use project phases to indicate “checkpoints”. Use absolute calender time. Use budget scales. What are you’re expectations when 50% of the budget is gone? How do you know you’re expectations are met?

The Yellow Brick Road is not about creating a firm committed plan. It is about the stakeholders current perception of the journey.

Click here form more information about The Yellow Brick Road.

5. The Tent – Your Temporary Comfort Zone.

Your ragtag crew needs some kind of protection. If you’re on A Big Adventure you need a support structure. Projects create change. Change makes waves through the organization. And change creates stress for people. Your project is a temporary structure within the host organization.

Think about it as a hospital tent set up in a field. It allows the doctors to perform surgery isolated from what happens around them. It provides focus and shelter. It’s not a fortress. The walls are thin and allow for surrounding noises to enter. It’s put up when needed and taken away when it has served its purpose.

In this exercise you discuss with the group how the ideal tent would look like. What kind of material? What information can get out, or what information should stay in the tent? What would you pack? How do you make sure you can get along on a small confined space for a period of time?

Click here for more information about The Tent. Notice some great suggestions in the comment section.

5 ejercicios narrativas metaforas y visualizaciones para mantener una cultura y trabajo en equipo

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