I feel like it can become so easy for a development project to become bad if a team is not on the same page. Sometimes projects might just sort of work out through a sort of osmosis or miracle, but many times a crazy-train project derails because of a lack of organization or cohesion. One thing that can simply bring organization and cohesion together for a team is the task. Respect the task.
A project is a symphony
A well-executed project is like a masterful symphony. Both require talented resources with different skill-sets, all working in harmony to interpret a score that makes an audience happy. A symphony is broken down into movements that are further broken down into a collection of measures that may only last a few second each, but the measures are very important. It is the sums of all of the well-executed measures that make the masterful symphony… the art, which hopefully results in something pleasant to the senses. As members of a development team, our project is more likely to be a success when all of our measures, or tasks, are well executed.
Without working to master and honor each individual measure, the symphony will never be great. In the land of web projects (and really any of the project management methodologies), we have our own version of a measure and that is a task. And like all members of an orchestra must respect the measure, all members of a project should respect the task.
How can we actively work to respect the task?
- Respect the task by holding each other accountable to make sure that tasks exist. These tasks are like score for a symphony and if the orchestra has no sheet music or blank sheet music, it is going to be hard for them to play. I don’t like performing work if there is not a task and I work to make sure one is created and assigned to me.
- Respect the task by holding each other accountable to make sure that MEANINGFUL tasks exist. If a task is assigned to me and I don’t understand what I am supposed to do from the task itself, I either assign it back or I work to find out what it is supposed to mean and document it myself on the task (for review). This helps stop assumptions and increase knowledge about where the task is and where it needs to go.
- Respect the task by following appropriate workflow and assignment. Each organization is different, but when you are done with your part of the task, what happens next? If someone else is responsible for the next actionable item, how is it marked on that task to make that assignment? Is the task code complete? Does it need to be marked as such?
- Respect the task by following a Project Manager’s lead. An orchestra has a conductor with a baton; project teams have a project manager. The goal isn’t necessarily just to tell you what to do, but to work together to make the whole teamwork in unison for a good end product. A member of the orchestra follows the notes on the page and works with the conductor to make sure everything is in sync. A member of a project should keep an eye on the stories/tasks/project, but also the project manager. While you might see things the conductor cannot, often times the conductor can see a complete view of how the teams are working together. Your communication with the Project Management can result in meaningful communication with the rest of the team.
Doing these things can sometimes be seen as nit picky or annoying by others, but I feel like I am doing our future selves a favor by doing my part to respect the task. Verbal communication is very important, but so is documented, written down communication and that is where the task comes in. When we are in the last scramble to fix x, y or z thing… our job can only be EASIER by having well documented and meaningful tasks for us to look back on. When we look back at a project to either improve our process or look at the timeline of a project, the sum of the tasks will give us a good picture.
Having meaningful, well written tasks allows a team to better fulfill the needs of today and help create artifacts that can help a team improve in the future.
Respect the task.