Friday, January 30, 2009

Eliminate assignment confusions

So you finished brainstorming over an idea and now it's time to get your hands dirty and do the work.

This moment is critical. A task doesn't necessarily mean the same thing for two different persons. Your idea about how to write the new contract may differ from John's, so if the task is not detailed enough, it might lead to the team pulling in different directions.

Image by Sean Rogers1

A solid approach would be to dissect the task down to manageable sub-tasks, that don't allow different interpretations.

Let's say you have to Promote the website for your business. It's a pretty complex task that can be interpreted in many ways.

But if you slice it into more manageable things to do, the bewilderment fades away:
  • Find 10 website directories and enter the website under the proper categories.
  • Write a press release which includes the 5 most useful services the company provides.
  • Submit the press release to 5 online agencies.
  • Write an whitepaper about a solution your company/product is offering.
  • Set up a Google AdWords account and start a campaign.
Besides clarifying the work to be done, other benefits of breaking down a complex task include:
  • You get a better estimation of the duration of the task.
  • The progress gets easier to follow. In my opinion, this approach is more useful than using flimsy percentages which usually get out of control.
  • You have a list of actionable things to do, instead of a complex unclear assignment.


kZan said...


how teamness help people involved to apply these hints?

is teamness offer support for everything? and if yes, how?

Paul Marculescu said...

Thanks for the comment.

You may find guidances in a few previous posts on this blog:
* Break down complex tasks with milestones
* Treat groups as sub-projects for a better structure
and generally in the Teamness case studies category.

In any case, this post was mainly intended as a best-practices advice for virtual teams.