Building teamwork, at the enterprise level, is a tricky thing.

As a project team comes together to solve a problem, hopefully you find yourself in the same position that I’ve found myself in many times: with smart experienced people, all motivated to succeed.  Microsoft IT is chock-full of folks like this… and it’s a big organization.  Couple of thousand folks.  So, it’s pretty normal that when I start working with a project, there’s always one or two smart motivated people on the team that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with before.

Thus begins the ‘relationship-building’ aspect of teamwork.  Meet a new person.  Figure out what motivates them.  Communicate.  Share.  Build trust.

Nice thing about a project team: your success is managed.  The majority of the team members are measured by the success of the project, and often they are full time on the project.  People can work together to accomplish things fairly quickly.  This is not usually the case at the enterprise level.

MCj03308460000[1]When working with a distributed organization, virtual teams become more important.  Here, you find smart people, motivated to succeed, but they are nearly never full time.  Getting consensus and buy-in on common goals becomes a high-order problem.  Without it, there is no traction.  And with people contributing a few hours a week, or month, to your deliverables, a lack of traction can be the difference between delivering in June and delivering in October.

And so the ‘relationship-building’ aspect of teamwork, at the enterprise level, is an entirely different game.  At this level, you need to harness the things that people are passionate about.   You need to find the influencers, and influence them.  You need to make sure that subject matter experts feel engaged, and empowered, and heard.

Building a conceptual model is a great way to get that to occur.  Getting agreement on the concepts, and business rules, for a business can bring people together.  It becomes a way to build common ground, establish relationships, and get different people, in different parts of the organization to see value in working together.  It is a work product that people can feel good about, and that will be useful.

When you build the conceptual model, you build relationships with the people whose ideas you are capturing.  Which is more important… the work product or the relationships? 


By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

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