LackOfDirection

Workers have no direction, or are pulling in different directions

Description                                      

Workers have no direction, or are pulling in different directions.  They may have different goals, or different opinions on how to achieve those goals.

Discussion

Here we address reconcilable differences.  To achieve progress where goals and directions are not readily reconciled, see LackOfConsensus.  There is a need to establish an overall vision, an agreed set of high-level goals for the project as a whole.  These provide a framework, a context, to which all subsidiary goals can be related.  To some extent, the methods for dealing with lack of direction are recursive with respect to these subsidiary goals.  Once the project has some direction, it may need to deal with UndefinedScope or UnknownProcess, and later with architectural vision (see LackOfVision); all are specific examples of lack of direction.  Note also that hidden political agendas can lead to people pulling in different directions.  Treat these as irreconcilable differences if they are detected.

Prevention, Amelioration, Cure

Traditional

Early work on a project should include establishing some UnityOfPurpose.  Where there are difficulties establishing a direction for specific problem areas, collect the relevant people and LockEmUpTogether.

Modern

Once the risk of not getting it right first time has been ameliorated (see the ‘Modern’ section in ChangingRequirements), then the team can focus more on the immediate, concrete goals and get by with much less of a ‘big picture’.  Agile approaches such as XP have, to some large extent, an inbuilt goal, to satisfy the highest priority needs of the customer.  Other agile approaches such as DSDM use JointApplicationDesign workshops to obtain early reconciliation of conflicts and establish a coherent picture of customer needs.  In general, a small team with high degree of internal communication and the prioritized needs of the customer as goals to focus direction will not suffer problems of lack of direction.  To some extent, the responsibility for providing ‘Vision’ for the project is pushed back to the customer, and it needs to be noted that they may need help in establishing this vision.