Week 41: A team barometer

One of the team members on a core project we are working on has developed a stress curve for our project. Although “curve” is perhaps the wrong word.

He posted the expected graph of the potential tensions on this very complex and yet very short project (an approximately $100 million project, to be programmed and designed in 5 weeks). Against this, we’ve been tracking the actual developments in the studio. It is a very jagged line in both cases.

Although the project has a long history in other places and although the goals had been well-articulated before we entered its trajectory, we’ve found that our peripheral vision was not well-developed. Our design and development activity has been affected by an almost daily interjection of unexpected issues arising from a confrontation with reality that had not been present in the previous five years of this project’s development as it made its way through vision, politics, projections and other background stuff.

Part of the complexity is that we are designing for an organization not yet developed, with representation from current departmental rather than future thematic avatars, with a titular CEO but without a designated COO who could help develop a hierarchy of values, without the commitment and engagement of an essential translational partner, and in a domain of funding that will engage both public (governmental) and private (yet to be identified) sponsors.

We’ve tried hard to stay on a straight line but, in addition to the external surprises, we, ourselves, bring matters into the mix that shift our movement. Every day we uncover data, special interests, individual interpretations, operational scenarios, discipline challenges, differential development, and other (logical) vibrations that shake (or build) the confidence, spirit, or energy of the team.

It was an odd delight to have ended the week with a meeting that should have been comfortable and collegial but became competitive and challenging. A delight because its emotion placed it on the stress graph much higher than we’d predicted for Friday but, as we look to next Monday’s predicted very high stress level (because we’d confront the reality of the final push), we think the week could be much more relaxed now that we’ve surfaced a bunch of the underlying clutter.

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