Three weeks later, the team gathered again in Dan's office for the official RMS project review. The rest of the rollout had gone well, and the RMS application was in use throughout Ferguson and Bardell. Benefits were already becoming obvious, both in the assignment and scheduling of resources and in the increased efficiency of the timesheet process.
Bill opened the meeting. "This meeting is certainly fitting. We started this project differently than any other on which I've ever worked, and we're going to end it the same way, by doing something I've never done before. Why are we having a project review, anyway?" He leaned toward Jane and stage-whispered, "Watch this—Dan will have an overhead with a reason."
"Of course I will," said Dan, placing a transparency on the projector beside his chair. "Some of us actually know how to use PowerPoint."
Bill grimaced. "Ouch! OK, I'll be quiet."
"Actually, that's exactly what I don't want you to do," said Dan, turning on the overhead projector. "Here's the reason we are here, and why I don't want any of you to be quiet." He read from the transparency: "A project review is a means of formalizing the process of learning from past experience." He turned back to the group. "If we simply leave RMS and move on to the next project without reflecting on what was good and what was bad, what we did well and what we should do better or differently next time, we miss the opportunity to reinforce what we learned. The end of a project is what educators call a 'teachable moment,' and we want to take advantage of it."
"Well, I for one think we should move to a six-phase process, not just four," said Tim. "In fact, I've got a transparency that shows the six phases I have in mind. It's based on something put out by Russ Berne & Company in Oakland, New York." Tim placed his own transparency on the projector, and read each point. "One-Enthusiasm. Two-Disillusionment. Three-Panic. Four-Search for the Guilty. Five-Punishment of the Innocent. Six-Praise and Honors for the Non-Participants." Tim turned off the projector and removed his transparency as the others laughed.
"That's horrible, Tim," said Dan with a chuckle as Tim sat down. "Where did you get these six phases?"
"Oh, they're from a wall plaque my mom had around the house for years. When I was at her house a few weeks ago, I picked it up and brought it here. The plaque's hanging in my office now."
"Right next to your autographed poster?" said Jane with a grin. "You know, Dan, I think Tim's list is actually a good place to start."
Tim feigned shock. "Whoa—you mean I tried to do something funny and it actually has some value?"
"No, really," persisted Jane. "Those six phases were funny to us because they came so close to home. We've all seen—or been part of—projects that turned out just like that. By following the MSF Development Process and Development Team Models, and using the MSF Design Process, we made sure that RMS was exactly the opposite."
"Good point, Jane," said Dan. Then he addressed everyone. "Let's spend some time talking about what parts of the process we thought were especially helpful."
The team worked through the agenda, sometimes discussing calmly, sometimes arguing, sometimes trying to talk all at once, and sometimes listening carefully to one another. After three hours, Dan had covered ten pages of a legal pad with the group's primary points. He finally put down his pen and said, "That's good, gang. I think we have wrung the last ounce of reflection out of this project." Grimacing, he shook his hand. "Or the last bit of writing out of my fingers."
"Well, I hope you've got some strength left in that hand," said Bill gruffly, as he stood up across the table from Dan, "because you're going to need it."
Dan rose slowly to face him. The room grew quiet. "When we began, you said that your goal was to make us look like heroes. I just want to say, in front of everyone else on the team, that I think you are a real hero. Anyone who can take a team of people from extremely different backgrounds and show them how to use their skills to pull off a project like this one like we did is a man I'm proud to work for." He offered his hand to Dan, who modestly took it. Bill gave Dan a firm handshake.
"Thanks, Bill. Coming from someone with all the experience you have—well, that means a lot." He looked at the others. "My thanks to all of you. You've been a great team to work with."
"Don't make it sound like you'll never see any of us again," said Jane, gathering up her stuff. "After all, we've promised my people that Version 2 will include the accounting package, remember."
As the team dispersed, Dan made a note to e-mail Jim Stewart about the next round of RMS funding.