Sunday, December 18, 2005

Crunching numbers - I

A little bit of mathematics:

Two people define one communication relationship, three people define three, & four people define six & so on. Extrapolating the logic geometrically, if resources are represented as vertices of a polygon & communication relationships as sides & diagonals, then the total number of communication relationships can be calculated as:

# communication relationships = n + {n*(n-3)/2}

where n is the number of resources.

For n=6, we have:

# communication relationships = 6 + {6*(6-3)/2} = 6 + 9 = 15

For a team that works very well (intuitively), each of these relationships needs to be a healthy one. However, ensuring that this happens from a project management perspective is an incredibly tough challenge.

So perhaps the best teams are constrained by their size.

Unfortunately, team dynamics are not usually seen from this perspective. Outside of training & product knowledge, this is also a very important reason why throwing resources into a team does not necessarily improve productivity or quality.

Post Scriptum- These thoughts are not original; I've read about this in various books & papers, & faced the situation in my own project. This post is just assimilation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Every once in a way

The good part about being in India is that you toss your clothes into a basket & back they come washed & pressed. In the US, you can still toss your clothes into a basket but in this country, they just sit there looking dirty & crumpled. So you'll have to demean yourself by washing your own clothes. And while you're at it, you might as well be reading a book by the hotel's poolside, if listening to the washer & dryer is not exactly an eclectic practice of leisure as far as you're concerned.

So there I was sitting in my most nerdy pose looking absorbed & boring when a sweet woman came by & said that I'll have to excuse her for lunch. I figured that she was in charge of looking after the guests by the poolside & the gymnasium. I quickly assured her that I had no intentions of jumping into the water or out of the building, & she could bet a hundred dollars that I wouldn't touch the gymnasium with a barge pole.

Now I carried on reading & in the absolute solitude of the poolside, it occurred to me that I should tell the woman about how she is working for a "visionary" company. I say this because the book I was reading was "Built To Last - By Jim Collins", & it spoke about these great companies which have been exemplary in both their commercial & social aspects - so much so as to be treated as icons in their respective industries. Marriott, the hotel I was staying at, was one of them.

So I read for a while more before the woman came back. I calculated that my clothes must have dried by now. So on the way out, I excused myself & explained to the woman what I had read about Marriott & asked her how she felt about working here in the light of what I had just told her. Here is what she had to say in her slightly Hispanic flavoured English:

“Thank you, Sir. I have not read the book. But it does not surprise me. I know that I am working for a great company. I know because I see it on the face of everyone that works here.”