Regular online meetings between infrequent face to face meetings help motivation and cohesion but the CCeD approach seems to be adding even stronger impact to project products. In my role as internal evaluator for the UnderstandIT project it has been interesting to see the result of applying Concurrent Design to the quality of the project process. Of course this is a sample of one and proves nothing but it is my belief that the approach has had a major positive impact on the progress of the project.
When I first started out in international project over ten years ago the twice yearly meetings were usually a mad dash to get up to date with what the different partners had been getting up to in the interim and a rush to get as much ”real work” done together in the limited time available when we were together.
Over the years this developed into keeping in touch with synchronous online meetings at monthly intervals. Project partners appreciated the way in which these meetings helped to maintain momentum as against the previous approach where it was all too easy to get overwhelmed by other work while the next face to face project meeting still seemed to be months away.
I realise now that, while the online meetings were an improvement, they did create perhaps a slight sense of meeting because it was time to meet rather than meeting for a specific purpose. By contrast, the Concurrent Design approach provides a clear structure which gives a sense of progression.
You won’t find much about concurrent design (CCD) online, still less about concurrent design as applied to the training process. But the people at HiST in Norway have taken this engineering concept, originally designed as a cost cutting measure in NASA, and successfully applied it to the design of training for large companies in Norway. The development in the UnderstandIT project is to see whether CCD can become CCeD and be used in a situation where all the interested parties are not in the physical room but in the virtual room. We have so far been through 3 of the four stages.
- Situation analysis
Study of Possibilities
Selection of Solutions
Review of final products
The net result has been that the recent face to face meeting in Lisbon, while short in comparison to previous EU project norms, proved more than adequate. There was a feeling that project partners had been really working together and this avoided the need for long updates from each partner and there was also a sense that we had achieved a huge amount through the CCeD approach and so the face to face meeting could be used to seal any holes rather than being a major building operation.
This is in no way to suggest that we don’t need the face to face meetings. I think the project would be very much the poorer without them but I do think that we have achieved some sort of ideal working balance between the online and the face to face which is making the face to face meetings much less densely packed and stressful for those who manage them.
But as we enter the ninth month of a two year project with only one more CCeD meeting to go, probably in September, my remaining question is whether we can continue to be so effective once the CCeD process is complete and the project needs to move on to business model generation and course piloting?