Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adaptive Project Framework

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

In studying for my PMP exam and expanding my knowledge base around project management, I read the book Effective Project Management: Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme 4th Edition (Wiley Publishing, © 2006) by Robert K. Wysocki. In this text, the author puts forth a project management model that differs from the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) called the Adaptive Project Framework (APF). It is a middle ground between traditional waterfall project management and an Agile development style of project. Wysocki has since published two new books relating to this topic: Effective Project Management: Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme 5th Edition  (Addison-Wesley Professional, © 2010) and Adaptive Project Framework: Managing Complexity in the Face of Uncertainty (Wiley Publishing, © 2009). I will provide an overview of APF based on the 4th Edition text, an article by Jorge Dominguez,  and the introductory chapter of the new APF text (located online here) in this post.

Change is a given in the project environment. Nowhere is change more prevalent where the goal is not clearly defined, or the path to the goal is unknown at the beginning of the project. Wysocki provides a framework to determine which style of project management (Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme) to use on a given project. This is based on whether the goal is clear, and whether the requirements and solution (path to the goal) are clear. This defines four quadrants as shown in this diagram:

Projects in Q1 (Goal is Clear, Path is clear) can use the Traditional Project Management methodology (as defined in the PMBOK) commonly called waterfall. The projects in Q4 (Goal not clear, Path not clear) call for an Extreme Project Management solution, usually some form of Agile Development (Scrum, eXtreme Programming, etc.). However, projects in Q2 and Q3 (either Goal or Path is not clear) call for the Adaptive Project Framework.

This is a diagram showing the various components of APF:

The APF consists of the following components, organized into 5 Phases:

• Version Scope
     - Develop the Conditions Of Satisfaction (COS) to define what is needed and what will be done to meet that need
     - Develop the Project Overview Statement (POS) which summarizes the problem/opportunity, what will be done and how, the business value, and risks, assumptions and obstacles to success
     - Prioritize functional requirements; this list may change but currently reflects the best information available
     - Develop mid-level Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) showing goal, major functions, and sub-functions
     - Prioritize scope triangle (consisting of time, cost, resources, scope, and quality, customer satisfaction was left out)

• Cycle Plan (iterative)
     - Extract from the WBS those activities that define the functionality to be built in this cycle
     - Decompose the extracted WBS down to the task level
     - Establish the dependencies among these tasks
     - Partition the tasks into meaningful groups and assign teams to each group
     - Each team develops a micro-level schedule with resource allocations for the completion of their tasks within the established cycle timeline and budget constraints

• Cycle Build (iterative)
     - Conduct detailed planning for producing the functionality assigned to this cycle
     - Begin cycle work
     - Monitor and adjust cycle build
     - This cycle ends when its time has expired. Any functionality not completed during this cycle is reconsidered as part of the functionality in the next cycle
     - Create a Scope Bank to record all change requests and ideas for improvements
     - Create an Issues Log to record all problems and track the status of their resolution

• Client Checkpoint (iterative)
     - Client and project team perform a quality review of the functionality produced in the just completed cycle against the overall goal of maximum business value, and adjustments are made to the high-level plan and next cycle work if needed
     - The sequence Cycle Plan / Cycle Build / Client Checkpoint is repeated until the time and cost budgets for this version have been expended

• Post-Version Review
     - Determine if the expected business outcome was realized
     - Determine what was learned that can be used to improve the solution
     - Determine what was learned that can be used to improve the effectiveness of APF

Note that at the beginning there is a phase that defines the overall scope for the project. The first step is to have a Conditions of Satisfaction (COS) discussion with the project sponsor/ business owner. Once this is complete the project management method is selected. If the APF is chosen, then the Project Overview Statement (POS) artifact is prepared. This is an agreement between the project sponsor/ business owner and the project team that helps define and scope the project. A template for a POS is shown below:


Note that the COS can be captured in the Success Criteria portion of the document.  The intention here is not to completely define all aspects of the project, but to come up with a common understanding before the project is initiated.

The majority of the APF is contained in the three iterative phases (Cycle Plan, Cycle Build, Client Checkpoint). These phases allow for just enough design and planning, a fixed duration functionality build, and then affords the client an opportunity to assess whether the project is meeting expectations or should be changed. This framework also allows for the client to end the project at the end of one of these iterations if the business value is no longer present, or the overall situation has changed with a much smaller cost than a waterfall project. Finally, the last phase allows for a review of what has been delivered, and can either serve as an endpoint of the project, or set the stage for follow-on work.

This methodology accommodates and embraces change. It is a framework and as such it can be adapted for a wide variety of projects, not just software development. This is a very high-level overview of APF, and I suggest the texts shown above for anyone involved in projects, especially project managers of all types.

Please post your comments and questions below.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 5

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the fifth (and last) part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results ©  2009 by Morten T. Hansen.  This post focuses on Chapter 6 Lever 3: Build Nimble Networks.

By way of review, leaders follow three steps to accomplish disciplined collaboration:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions

The three levers used by leaders to tailor collaboration solutions are:

1. Unify People

2. Cultivate T-Shaped Management

3. Build Nimble Networks

Lever 3: Build Nimble Networks

Collaborative organizations run on networks, those informal working relationships among people that cut across formal lines of reporting. If the formal org chart shows how work is divided into pieces, networks reveal the informal organization- how people actually work together.

However, networks- or wrong ideas about them- often get in the way of disciplined collaboration. To better understand how networks can help collaboration, these myths must first be dispensed with:

- Networking is always a good thing: The idea that networking is necessarily a good thing can cause us to overlook the fact that networks can sometimes undermine performance.
- The more the merrier: Research shows that "the more, the merrier" does not necessarily yield the best results, at least not when it comes to networking in business, because networking is costly.
- Success goes to the socially gifted: Research shows that personal traits related to being socially gifted, such as being extroverts, do not determine whether people are effective networkers. Good networkers can be found everywhere. They can be introverts or extroverts, shy or gregarious, insecure or cocky.
- Networking is an art: People believe that networks belong to the realm of company life that cannot be pinned down, but recent advances in the social science of networks have changed that premise. With the help of this social science networks can not only be measured but also better managed.

For the leader demanding disciplined collaboration, the first thing to ask is "What are networks good for?" First, they help people identify opportunities- a technology, an idea, an expert, a collaboration partner. Second, networks help people capture value; people realize benefits from the resources they have identified.

These network benefits reduce barriers to collaboration. Networks reduce all four barriers outlined earlier, although to different degrees:

The not-invented-here barrier: Networks can help reduce a reluctance to communicate outside the organization, because people who interact with others tend to be more open to input from the outside world.
The search barrier: Networks can have a huge impact by helping people search better.
The hoarding barrier: Networks can help people overcome the hoarding barrier somewhat, because people are more willing to help those they know.
The transfer barrier: Good networks can lower transfer problems. Good relationships among colleagues help overcome the difficulty of passing along complicated knowledge people need to do their work.

Six Network Rules

Six network rules help people identify opportunities and capture value. Here are the four rules for identifying opportunities:

- Build outward, not inward
- Build diversity, not size
- Build weak ties, not strong ones
- Use bridges, not familiar faces

Here are two rules for capturing value:

- Swarm the target: do not go it alone
- Switch to strong ties; do not rely on weak ones

Pursuing the six network rules allows leaders to build nimble networks that are effective and do not waste people's time. Such networks follow the principle of disciplined collaboration. The rules help people identify opportunities and capture value from those opportunities. Leaders can apply these rules to their organizations; three steps help:

- Map the network
- Evaluate the network
- Tailor the intervention

Managing company networks has evolved from an art to a science: we know a lot about what makes networks work and how they can help disciplined collaboration. Networks are manageable: managers can collect network data, assess it based on network rules, and implement specific remedies. Leaders who pursue disciplined collaboration retire aimless networking luncheons and annual networking retreats and apply the six network rules in a scientific way.

I highly recommend this book for any KM professional or leader. The insights that Hansen puts forth should benefit any organization that implements them using the methods outlined.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 4

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the third part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results © 2009 by Morten T. Hansen. This post focuses on Chapter 4- Lever 1: Unify People and Chapter 5- Lever 2: Cultivate T-Shaped Management.

By way of review, leaders follow three steps to accomplish disciplined collaboration:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions

The three levers used by leaders to tailor collaboration solutions are:

1. Unify People

2. Cultivate T-Shaped Management

3. Build Nimble Networks

Lever 1: Unify People

Hansen outlines three unification mechanisms:

1. Creating a unifying goal: In order to be a compelling unifying goal, it should meet 4 criteria:
- The goal must create a common fate
- The goal must be simple and concrete
- The goal must stir passion
- The goal must put competition on the outside

2. Inciting a core value of teamwork: Leaders need to give voice to the value of teamwork, put it in a values statement, and include it in a list of leadership competencies. But as they preach teamwork, they need to beware of three sins:
- Small teamwork kills collaboration
- Everybody do teamwork now (Except those of us at the top)
- Teamwork becomes the point of it all

3. Speaking a language of collaboration: The language a leader chooses matters a great deal in shaping behavior. They can use language as a powerful tool for cultivating collaboration.

There is a dark side to all of this. Unification runs the risk of absolving the individual of responsibility. To combat this danger, leaders practicing disciplined collaboration complement unification mechanisms with individual accountability mechanisms. They need to match unifying goals with individual goals, a value of teamwork with a value of individual responsibility, and the language of accountability. That's disciplined collaboration.

Lever 2: Cultivate T-Shaped Management

T-Shaped Management involves both delivering results in their own organization (the vertical part of the T) and deliver results by collaborating across the organization (the horizontal part of the T). They are willing to reach out to ask for input and also help others when asked. However, they are also disciplined enough to say "no" to collaboration when it doesn't produce value.

Two fundamental ways of growing the pool of T-shaped managers exist: selection and change. Some organizations don't believe that people can change, so they focus on selecting the personnel that exhibit T-Shaped behaviors. Others work on developing these attitudes.

Promote T-Shaped, Not Other Behaviors:
Disciplined collaboration requires that organizations promote people who practice T-shaped management, not others. Leaders must create a new mechanism that sets new criteria, collects data, evaluates performance, and rewards T-shaped management with promotions.

Pay for performance is a powerful lever, whether it is in the form of salary hikes, bonuses, or stock options, but it is plagued with problems. Two popular schemes often undermine cross-unit collaboration: -Unit Performance Only and Corporatewide Incentives. One produces sub-optimal results as each unit strives to maximize its own results, and the other can cause individuals to underperform as they feel their contribution to organizational performance does not matter. A good incentive, on the other hand, links money directly to collaboration. This can be done if data on collaboration is collected and can be evaluated (see above).

Transitioning an existing team to T-shaped behaviors requires dedication, and includes these four steps:
1. Fire laggards
2. Promote and recruit for T-shaped behaviors
3. Pay for T-shaped behaviors
4. Coach for T-shaped behaviors

These two levers have more to do with providing an incentive for people and organizations to practice disciplined collaboration. In a military context, the incentive (or directive) is there. The barrier that is more prevalent is the barrier to conducting effective collaboration. That will be addressed in the next post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 3

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the third part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results © 2009 by Morten T. Hansen. This post focuses on Chapter 3: Spot the Four Barriers to Collaboration.

By way of review, leaders follow three steps to accomplish disciplined collaboration:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions

Hansen explains that while people naturally tend to collaborate, decentralization can work against this. The essence of modern management is a decentralized system where there are clear lines of responsibility, a great deal of accountability, and rewards for those who perform. This system works well as it encourages good performance, but leaders become more focused on maximizing their unit, and disinterested in how the other units are performing. This creates a series of silos or fiefdoms and encourages sub-optimal solutions at an enterprise level. This paradigm is also present in the military.

The solution to this is not to change to a rigid centralized model- extreme centralization- but instead to come up with a better model. Hansen stresses that disciplined collaboration requires that organizations be decentralized and yet coordinated. To build this model, leaders must detect the barriers to collaboration and overcome them without sacrificing a decentralized structure.

There are Four Barriers to Collaboration:

1. The Not-Invented-Here Barrier

2. The Hoarding Barrier

3. The Search Barrier

4. The Transfer Barrier

Here are reasons each of these barriers happen:

1. The Not-Invented-Here Barrier
The not-invented-here barrier has four underlying reasons:

a. Insular Culture: People who work together closely they tend to restrict the influx of new viewpoints and reinforce their own beliefs. The more this happens, the more the group members turn inward and shut themselves off from the rest of the world.

b. Status Gap: If individuals think they are of a higher status than others, they will be less likely to reach out to collaborate with that group. Trying to collaborate with high-status groups is one of the last things a low-status group wants to do. These status gaps thus run both ways: high-status people don't want to sully their image of themselves, and low-status people do not want to let high-status people make them regret their circumstances. Both attitudes create a barrier to collaboration.

c. Self-Reliance: While some amount of self-reliance is important, the tendency to fix all of their own issues keeps people from reaching out for input. This usually comes from a deep-seated belief that people need to solve their problems on their own instead of asking for help. When this attitude crops up in a unit, chances are that the not-invented-here barrier will set in.

d. Fear of Revealing Shortcomings: Reaching out to someone and saying, "We're not doing well in this area and need help", can be interpreted by others as failure- "these guys are not very good". People generally fear exposing their weaknesses to others, especially to experts. This can be very pronounced in the military environment. In asking for input, people make themselves vulnerable and allow others to stand in judgment. As a result, people decide not to reach out at all, or only to people they know and trust (even if they are not the most knowledgeable). Fear of revealing shortcomings then becomes a barrier to collaboration.

2. The Hoarding Barrier
There are four reasons for the hoarding barrier:

a. Competition: Competition inside an organization undermines people's willingness to collaborate. When different parts of an organization perceive that they may be competing with others for resources, they are more likely to hoard information

b. Narrow Incentives: When individuals are rewarded only for how well they do their jobs, they tend to focus exclusively on their jobs. This incentive structure creates hoarding behaviors, because people pay attention to their own targets to the exclusion of helping people outside their unit.

c. Too Busy: As people are pressured to perform, and with operational tempo being what it is these days, they feel that they don't have the time to help others; reasonable requests for help are seen as burdens that could put them behind in their own work. So people are faced with a trade-off - to do their own work (but not help others), or to help others (but get less work done).

d. Fear of Losing Power: It is said "Knowledge is power" implying that a person is more powerful in an organization the more he or she knows about something and the less others know. So why share that knowledge with others and thereby make oneself less powerful and ultimately redundant? If people fear that they will become less powerful and less valuable to the organization by spreading their wisdom, they will be inclined to hoard it.

3. The Search Barrier
Search becomes a barrier for four reasons:

a. Company Size: The bigger the organization, the greater the search problems. The military is a very large and geographically dispersed organization with multiple networks, many units, posts, camps, and stations. Search is an ongoing issue. This spread of information across many different areas makes finding pertinent information in a timely manner a real challenge.

b. Physical Distance: The spread of physical distance is another factor in creating search issues. As mentioned above the military is a very physically distributed organization, and this inhibits the exchange of information. People prefer to interact with others who are close by. While networks have enabled remote knowledge sharing to an unprecedented degree, it is still inconvenient to look for knowledge and people in units far away.

c. Information Overload: The sheer volume of information made available by networks, databases, and knowledge management systems has created a condition where there is too much information and it is hard to sort the noise from the useful information. Information overload makes search harder because of information noise- the ratio of the total amount of information available to the amount of useful information. Information systems, including knowledge management systems, increase the noise ratio by making too much information available, and that complicates the search for the right
information or person.

d. Poverty of Networks: There is a myth in our society that we live in a small world. While this is sometimes true, there are still instances where there are many degrees of separation between people. That there is a small world should give us great comfort for search. But again, the world is not always small. In even fairly small global organizations there can be many degrees of separation, and that separation is not consistent from individual to individual. It may be a small world for a few well-connected people, but it's a big world for many others and that's a formidable barrier to search.

4. The Transfer Barrier
There are three reasons that transfer becomes a barrier:

a. Tacit Knowledge: This type of knowledge makes transfer hard. Tacit knowledge refers to information that is hard to articulate orally - in writing, in manuals, in equations, and in software code. Explicit knowledge on the other hand, can be easily articulated. Whereas equations and formulas can be written down and are explicit knowledge, how to effectively counsel a subordinate is more tacit knowledge. It is easier to collaborate when people deal in straightforward, well-documented, technical knowledge or clean and reliable environmental data. It is much harder to collaborate when people have to share novel technologies that are poorly understood, ambiguous situational data, or intuitions about what an enemy may be planning.

b. No Common Frame: People who do not know each other have no common frame- an understanding of each other's working habits, subtle ways of articulating something, a liking of each other, and an appreciation of each other's moods. Lack of a common frame might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Consider the flip side- situations where people who collaborate have a strong common frame. Have you considered why there are such long-lasting duos in sports, science, and music? These collaborations happen because there is a strong common frame. Without it, people become strangers in the sense of lacking a deep understanding of how to work well together.

c. Weak Ties: People find it hard to transfer knowledge when they don't know each other well (a weak tie). They need strong ties- relationships where people talk often and have a close working association. Weak ties create havoc when people need to transfer tacit knowledge. Hansen cites an example where weak ties caused teams of engineers to take over 30 percent longer to transfer information than those with strong ties. Weak ties are very common in the military due to the size and dispersion of the organization.

From Barriers to Solutions:
The first step in overcoming barriers is to accurately assess which ones occur in a situation. The second step is tailor management solutions to each barrier. These barriers may occur in different degrees from organization to organization. Hansen has a short subjective survey in the text that helps to identify which barriers exist for an organization, and to what extent. Once the barriers are known, then the tailored solution can be applied to overcome these barriers. Hansen has a barrier-to-solution map in the text that shows which of the three tailored solutions are most effective when applied to which barriers.

The three solutions:
1. Unify People: Craft a unifying goal, state a core value of teamwork, and use the leadership pulpit to signal collaboration.

2. Cultivate T-Shaped Management: Use recruitment, promotion, firing, and rewards to cultivate collaboration.

3. Build Nimble Networks: Encourage formation of the right kinds of cross-unit personal relationships to help search and reduce transfers problems.

These solutions will be addressed in more details in subsequent posts.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 2

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the second part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results © 2009 by Morten T. Hansen. This post focuses on Chapter 2: Know When to Collaborate, and When Not To.

By way of review, leaders follow three steps to accomplish disciplined collaboration:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions

The following will deal with the first of the three steps - Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration. There are three guidelines for being disciplined about when to collaborate:

- The first task is to understand the case for collaboration and appreciate how collaboration can increase performance.

- The second task is to evaluate the upside and to consider the potential for the organization overall.

- The final task is to understand when to say no to a collaboration effort - to articulate a rule or set of rules for when to go ahead, and when not to, at a project level.

The Case for Collaboration
There are three areas of potential upside in business: better innovation, better sales, and better operations. In a non-business context, Hansen suggests these could be thought of as new services, greater client satisfaction, and better-run organizations. I would add that in a military environment that these would be innovative ways to resolve issues or win battles, better situational awareness, and more efficient and effective organizations.

- Innovative ways to resolve issues or win battles: Hansen refers to this when he talks about recombining existing resources in order to create something new out of something old. The military example would be using existing units, capabilities, and environments but instead of using established doctrine an organization could find new ways to defeat an enemy or provide nation building support that hadn't previously been tried. Another component of this would be to disseminate the new best practice so that other units could utilize the new knowledge to positively affect their battlespace.

- Better Situational Awareness: This is a more standard reason for collaboration, and has been perfected over the last few years in different theaters of operations. Here collaboration allows the real-time flow of information between echelons of command, between geographically dispersed units, and from deployed units back to the supporting base. This collaboration allows commanders at all levels to see faster, react better, and to finish decisively.

- More Efficient and Effective Organizations: Better operations is what Hansen calls this phenomenon, in that collaboration is used to lower costs and improve efficiency and effectiveness. This would refer more specifically to the non-combat functions of units and activities as opposed to what was referred to above. This would also apply to collaboration of non-unit parts of the military such as the various agencies, schools, and related organizations that support the combat units.

What's the Upside of Collaboration?
A leader needs to be disciplined in evaluating the potential upside from collaboration. Hansen uses two ways to approach this evaluation:

- Overall Calibration: One way is to look across the entire organization and ask, "What is the potential for improvement in innovation, situational awareness, and efficiency/ effectiveness based on collaboration, assuming that we could do it well?" This quick assessment can produce a shared understanding of the upside. However, taking such a broad sweep overlooks differences within an organization. There might be different types of opportunities in different areas. This reality means you need a nuanced approach to evaluating the upside, as discussed next.

- The Collaboration Matrix: One way to gain a nuanced evaluation of your organization's upside is to use a collaboration matrix. The idea here is to divide the evaluation into pairs of units within the organization and systematically evaluating pair-by-pair where the opportunities for collaboration exist. Generally, when leaders use this approach they engage in a disciplined and fine-grained evaluation of where the upsides really exist and where they don't. Hansen provides a detailed example in the text (pages 36-38).

Another key to determining this upside is to make sure that the leaders doesn't overshoot or undershoot. This involves overstating or understating the benefits of collaboration to the organization. This can skew the overall evaluation one way or another and give an incorrect indication of whether collaboration is the right course of action.

When Do You Say "No!" to Collaboration?
Should you start a collaboration project or not? Leaders need a rule to help them decide when to collaborate and when to say, "No there is no business case. Let's not collaborate." This rule needs to be different from the usual go, no-go rule for projects. Leaders need to take into account two additional costs: opportunity costs and collaboration costs. People should launch a collaboration project only if the net value of collaboration is greater than the return minus both the opportunity costs and collaboration costs.

Hansen calls this net value the collaboration premium, and the principle can be expressed as a simple equation:

collaboration premium = return on project - opportunity costs - collaboration costs

Opportunity cost is the answer to the questions, "What else could we do with the time, effort, and resources going into the collaboration project?" There may be better uses of people's time and effort - projects with better returns altogether.

Collaboration costs refer to the cost of working across organizational boundaries, efforts to solve conflicts, and other costs associated with a collaboration project. There could also be a cost associated with collaboration technologies as well. Hansen has a detailed example of this computation on pages 41-44 of the text.

However, this computation may be very hard to quantify in a military context. There are no sales figures to refer to, and sometimes cost savings are difficult to identify. However, leaders must make some effort to subject a collaboration project to a collaboration premium test before giving it a go.

Leaders can drive collaboration costs down to nearly zero by tearing down barriers to collaboration. "Collaborate for Results" becomes much easier if people know how to collaborate. Spotting those barriers to collaboration will be the subject of the next post.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 1

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the first part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results © 2009 by Morten T. Hansen.

While there is usually an upside to collaboration in an organization, there are often traps that prevent collaboration from occurring. The organization cannot then realize these benefits. Here are a list of some of these traps:

Collaborating in Hostile Territory: Some organizations are not set up to collaborate, and collaboration projects soon hit a wall. It is no surprise that collaboration fails in in environments that are designed for the opposite practice- competition and independence.

Overcollaborating: There is also a tendency to overcollaborate. This manifests itself in too many meetings, and not enough results. Sometimes when leaders promote collaboration in their organizations, they get more than they bargained for; people often overdo it.

Overshooting the Potential Value: It is easy to get carried away by the belief that there are huge synergy benefits to be gained by collaborating, only to find out the benefits are actually quite small. Hansen quotes an analyst: "Synergy: big wind, loud thunder, no rain. It's great to talk about conceptually ... but at the end of the day it's minimal".

Underestimating the Costs: Often cost (and benefit) projections are based on incorrect assumptions. When it comes to collaboration, sometimes leaders hope things will go well but do not fully appreciate the costs of working across the organization and resolving conflict.

Misdiagnosing the Problem: Many leaders fall into the trap of misdiagnosing the reasons people don't collaborate. Leaders must understand which barriers to collaboration are at plan in their organization and which are not.

Implementing the Wrong Solution: The misdiagnosis trap is often followed by the wrong-solution trap. Many leaders assume that a solution- an IT system, an incentive system, a common goal - will promote collaboration in any circumstance. However, different barriers to collaboration require different solutions.

All these traps lead to bad collaboration- characterized by high friction and a poor focus on results. Leaders don't fall into these traps because they are not smart. Smart leaders fall into them because they don't have a framework that helps them clearly see the difference between good and bad collaboration.

The way to avoid these traps is this: Disciplined Collaboration can be summed up in one phrase: The leadership practice of properly assessing when to collaborate (and when not to) and instilling in people both the willingness and the ability to collaborate when required.

To accomplish disciplined collaboration, leaders follow these three steps:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration: The key here is to determine the business value of collaboration, and whether this value outweighs the costs of collaboration. Leaders who pursue disciplined collaboration never lose sight of this dictum: collaboration is a means to an end, and that end is great performance. Leaders need to be rigorous in deciding whether to prioritize collaboration, in which areas to collaborate (innovation, customers, costs), ands which specific projects to pursue.

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration: Once the decision is made to pursue collaboration, then the leader must answer the question "What are the barriers blocking people from collaborating well?" Disciplined collaboration targets these four barriers:
- The not-invented-here barrier (people are unwilling to reach out to others)
- The hoarding barrier (people are unwilling to provide help)
- The search barrier (people are not able to find what they are looking for)
- The transfer barrier (people are not able to work with people they don't know well)

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions: When the barriers to collaboration are identified, a leader can now tailor solutions that overcome these barriers. Different barriers require different solutions. Motivational barriers require leaders pull levers to make people willing to collaborate while leaders pull ability levers to enable motivated people to collaborate across the organization. These levers fall into three general areas:
- Unification Lever - leaders craft compelling common goals, articulate the value of cross-organization teamwork, and send strong signals that lift people's sights beyond narrow interests and toward a common goal.
- People Lever - The solution is not to get people to necessarily to collaborate more, but instead to get the right people to collaborate on the right projects. Hansen uses the term "T-Shaped Management" to focus on those individuals that simultaneously focus on the performance of their unit (the vertical part of the T) and across boundaries (the horizontal part of the T). They are willing as well as able to collaborate when needed but disciplined enough to say no when it is wrong.
- Network Lever - This is where the leader build nimble interpersonal networks across the organization so individuals are more able to collaborate. Collaboration runs more on interpersonal networks and less through formal hierarchies. However, networks can get out of control, which is when people spend more time networking than getting things done. After all, the objective of disciplined collaboration is to engender great performance, and this great performance should enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Each of these steps will be the subject of subsequent posts.

Disciplined collaboration affords an opportunity for an organization to have performance from decentralized work and performance from collaborative work. This is opposed to the commonly held view that a collaborative enterprise is very centralized with information flows from the top of the pyramid to the bottom. Instead, disciplined collaboration maintains the benefit of decentralization - giving people the freedom to be entrepreneurs building something exceptional while being coordinated with the rest of the organization. Again, it is important for leaders to know when to conduct the collaboration projects that enable this, and when not to.

While Hansen's book deals with the business context for collaboration, there is much applicability to military organizations in these areas. Business value is sometimes hard to quantify in any organization, but with the military it can be much more subjective. The key here is that the leaders must understand what their organization's objectives are, and make sure to evaluate collaboration opportunities, identify barriers, and tailor solutions that best fit the group that they are responsible for. This is really much more of an art than a science, and requires discernment and a clear vision of the future.

There is a video of Hansen giving an overview of the book here.