Monday, January 26, 2009

Team Journaling & Action Learning

(This is a follow up to a previous post titled "On the Use of a Learning Journal")

Team journaling extend the journaling concept from the individual to the team. This brings me to action learning. How can we make sure to create appropriate linkages between individual reflection tools and team reflection activities?

Of course, my didactic novel project isn't a team activity so this question applies more to my real job than this project. However, as is often the case, the two are closely intertwined. Here's an example of how things happen:
1) a co-worker is taking a course on project management, reads something about "extreme project management" and somehow associates it with me and my areas of interest;
2) this co-worker and I end up a couple of minutes early in a meeting and he mentions what he was reading to me;
3) I don't know anything about "extreme project management" but based on his explanation it sounds similar to another concept I'm more familiar with, "rapid prototyping". Perhaps they're not that similar but what they have in common is that they reverse a certain number of assumptions about traditional project management or product development approaches;
4) as I later recall this serendipitous bit of conversation with this co-worker, I decide to go check out exactly what "extreme project management" is about -- Wikipedia gives me a start. It has something to do with human interaction management or managing project stakeholders in complex projects. Sounds like this has some potential for what I'm working on. Just enough to spark some new ideas, new connections between ideas.

If I were working in a team, especially a team engaged in an action learning project, I might be sharing some of my thoughts about extreme project management with some team members. I might ask if anyone on the team has heard of it, seen it in action, or sees any relevancy or application to our work.

How much learning is going on in a team may depend on the extent to which individual members have this "x might be interested in this" type of reflex, followed up by "let's send him/her a note about it" or "I'll mention it to him/her when we cross path at the meeting today." Two things need to happen: 1) co-workers need to have a good sense of each others' areas of interest and areas of work; and 2) co-workers need to see the benefits of follow through, the second step.

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