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When it comes to project work, casting is everything

Getting the right person on the project is one of the easiest ways to assure project success. But actually figuring out who the best person is for the project can sometimes be the most challenging thing that happens in a project. Julian Birkinshaw suggests that this often comes down to a mix of availability, favoritism, and luck. But the best teams are often made of a hybrid model: both people who consistently prove themselves and people who may not have had the opportunity to. Some companies have created software that helps quantify the abilities of their team, others an Internal Market model that helped keep people moving between projects. This had its benefits, and its faults: As Arn observed, the internal-market model works well in a high-octane environment of skilled and competitive people. But it also has its flaws. Software development teams need “grinders” as well as stars, and the grinders often get a raw deal when their performance is assessed based on objective terms. Also, linking bonuses too closely to performance-ranking encourages people to focus on a narrow set of behaviors, whereas there are many soft dimensions of performance, from helping colleagues to taking on the messy project no one else wants. To help combat this, companies like AdNovum “softened the edges” of the project management model, which helped balance the hybrid teams and allow for the benefits of a balanced team without running the risks associated with constant bench-warmers or over-used favorites.



About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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