Dr. Owen Gadeken
Defense Systems Management College
"Go for the Stars"
oil painting by P.A. Nisbet depicts the essence
of a launch.
Project teams are often hampered by internal conflicts
between team members from different functional organizations.
What happens is that team members form stereotypes and
make snap judgments about what their colleagues are doing
and why. This conflict typically occurs between technical
project members and contractors. To prevent this kind
of conflict from undermining the project, I believe it
is helpful to set up short cross-functional training sessions
that allow project team members to explain the key elements
of their job to the other members of the project team.
The intent of these sessions is to: (1) establish closer
cross-functional working relationships among project team
members; (2) identify dysfunctional gaps and overlaps
between team members; (3) raise the general level of project
knowledge among team members; and (4) raise the level
of trust and openness among all project team members.
The project manager sets up a series of team meetings
over the course of the project for each team member
to summarize his or her role on the project.
A format is established that includes the team member's
major responsibilities, key inputs from other project
team members and outsiders, and key outputs to the
others and to the project itself.
The project manager (or designated focal point)
convenes each session with a brief review of the project
goals, asks one or more team members to make their
presentations, and then facilitates a discussion of
issues and actions to improve the interface between
all team members.
This process continues as the project progresses
so that team members have periodic opportunities to
brief each other on their contributions and discuss
their working relationship.
Owen Gadeken is an experienced project manager,
educator, author, and consultant. He serves as a
Professor of Engineering Management at the Defense
Systems Management College (DSMC) located at Fort