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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Communications breakdown?

Avi blogged about the power of small teams here, and stated his reasons. After reading it, i think i agree with most of his points.

"The closer a team size moves to one, the more efficient its productivity."

I think generally speaking it is a very accurate statement. It's also a very valid goal to achieve. Is it the only goal? I wonder.

The aim to achieve full efficiency could overwhelms the effectiveness of a team. To lose efficiency however could also result in losing effectiveness too, so it's quite a conundrum to solve, and I don't think there's a one standard answer for all situations here. A lone wolf cannot take over the world, or at least, not the constantly changing world that we are in.

From my point of view, i think anything more than three members will create communication breakdown.

"Explaining to one person every detail of the plan is tedious enough. Imagine having to do the same for multiple people."

From the last few years of working on the service, and communicating and working its various supplementary teams. i totally agree with this point.

Interestingly, the current solution whenever there's a communication breakdown is to add another team into the picture (it's true!). From being able to contact the devs at one point (the best) to having to talk to a non-technical PM to talk to another non-technical PM to talk to yet another non-technical PM to tell the dev something technical (the worst). At least now, there's been opportunities to take one or two such PMs out of the way, but the tendency is go to back to this worst scenario. Yucks.

"When there is one person both running and operating the entire show, you have 0% communication efficiency loss."

I actually kept wondering about this point for quite some time. I believe that from the time Randy started the service, to the first 8 months that i took over, running the show single-handedly really was the best period for the service.

Indeed, as Avi pointed out further, as more members get into the picture, situations will occur as a result of communications breakdown. His limit is around 8, and if i count all the team's PMs and folks, we have just exceed 8!

As part of a post-mortem discussion on an issue today, it just dawn on me that we have to improve the communications, and thus, finding Avi's post via Reddit was timely. A wiki indeed works well, but it also depends on the implementation of the wiki by the various platforms.

Another recent change was that most of my team in Redmond now has our own offices, which is really good for me because now i can really concentrate on my work with "noise" of my own selection, and not Andrew's constant news reporting from every possible broadcasting news channel imaginable *grin*.

Ironically, even though this change is something that we asked for, it does look like, as a senior colleague Hollis mentioned, changed the balance of communications along my hallway, and I agree with her observations. Let's see how my team and I can improve that....

posted by Jonathan at 9:26 PM | Permalink |


At 9:38 PM, Blogger Ian McMillan

Don't worry dude, I'm moving a chair to right outside your door since I keep getting locked out of my new office. Yeah, they forgot to leave me a key, so now you must "communicate" with me when I get locked out. :-)

Honestly, I agree with your concerns. It has only been two days since my return and I already feel a riff forming between the global team. They seems to be a separation happening much like the what happened with the NWO. Like the red & black of the Wolfpack. Funny, but a bit scary.