Lessons Learned 2: Rethink Management
Define Project Scope
To find new industrial partner for our project, in order to continue the co-production.
Collaboration is an essential part in our project, so in order to fulfil the course requirements, we (as the group of two students) need to have a dialog with one academic supervisor (who also happens to be our teacher) and another person representing a part of the industry. Here you will find more information about the course structure and the reason behind it. So, as students, we have received a contact person who was supposed to help us along the six months of the project, finding a suitable solution for the company challenge. In our group case, this person transferred us to another one, with whom we had difficulties in establishing communication (another continent and different involvement criteria are not necessary characteristics that aid the process).
Being in the beginning of the project when we needed to decide on the project scope, not having a proper communication with our industrial partner has generated significant problems for us, as group. But we assumed our course roles as project managers and we started to make a plan on how to solve this issue. First, we tried to get in contact with our partner supervisor, whom we tracked from our notes when she mentioned in the wind his name. But we felt the need of opening more channels so we contacted again the first contact person who was provided to us from the course coordinator, and we asked for a second opinion. At some point, our question spread away and we found ourselves involved in emails with several managers in CC, which became slightly difficult to manage. The handlers got confused, the tension build up in the relations and one team member got in the crossfire of a sensitive situation, which brought up the possibility of dissolving the project in this formula. But knowing that this course is about the importance of learning from all experiences, we assumed the purpose of our project and tried again to explain it to our industrial partners, for now. This time, the email was written very clear, reviewed by our teacher (academic supervisor) and sent again, carefully closing the receivers.
Two days after, we received an email from a new person, who happens to be involved in a project that is more related to ours. We recognised how important is to have a person that assumes to exchange relevant information with us, so we were very fast in replying to emails. As results, we gained in 3 emails and one Skype meeting (that took place the day after the first encounter with the new contact) in that same week, 80% of all company information that we tried to get in the two months prior. Additional, the team energy felt a major change, both of us feeling secure to have by our side a person that we can count on and to be back on track in terms of project planning.
This was an experience that taught us multiple lessons:
- To not take the first contact as granted but instead try to strive for better communication and more competent people to work with, which will aid your project and brings positive energy to the process
- To pay attention on every single word that is written in an email, being able in this way to avoid a sensitive situation that may occur. Clear communication is also needed, adapted to handle all the parties involved
- To feel confident in requesting what you need from both academic and industry sides, without burning bridges or limiting opportunities, because it is part of the collaboration process
- To keep an eye on time, and if the respond from one partner is taking more than a week, to try to send reminders, confirmations or other types of messages
- To don't mix up virtual communication and long distant collaboration with no efficiency and disappointment, because everything is about the people that you are working with, not about technology or time zone