Sense of team is important on IT systems projects. In the first three Parts to this post I provided several techniques that I have personally used, or have seen used, to help develop a strong working relationship and a bond of trust between the IT staff and the business staff on systems projects. These are practical, every day tips that work. They just work. When people feel valued, they become passionate about contributing to the team effort.
At the same time, ya gotta have fun. Big, let-your-hair-down, just-get-silly fun. Five-years-old-again fun. Play fun.
Why? Because in our quest to create and deliver and implement, we have become far too serious. In protecting our acceptable protocol of behavior, we lose that playfulness that boosts our creativity, that contributes to our ability to deliver, or that gives us that pleasant aura of satisfaction when we successfully implement.
That’s why I especially love working with Gen Y. They are creative and hard-working, and they love to play. On numerous projects, even when I leave the project site late, several of the Gen Y staff are still finishing their tasks. But as I head home, they head off to someone’s apartment to play video games, or to a bar to draft their Fantasy Football teams, or to a restaurant that knows them by name. They know how to have fun – no, they know how to make fun.
What’s that old adage? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Maybe it’s the intensity of IT projects; but it seems that the more intense, the more there is a need to play. And Gen Y loves to play! Their motto: “Work hard! Play hard!”
On a recent project, we were running the programs to convert data from the legacy system to the newly implemented system. The processes ran 24×7 for 3 solid days, with hand-offs and checkpoints at all hours of the day and night. As you can imagine, there were long periods of watching and waiting. So what did my younger teammates do? They set up a cricket match in the open area and played cricket! On another night, they created a race course around the fringes of cubicle city, weaving through the elevator corridor, with the finish line at the end of the hallway. They would then time each other’s sprints. Slip-sliding around, banged-up shins – no matter. They let off steam with a little fun, and made the long hours go faster. Most recently they brought in a ping pong table and had rousing matches with eventual tournament winners.
So have fun, People! Big, hairy, noisy, silly fun. Button-down is for board rooms. Letting off a little steam is for team building, camaraderie, and project success.
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