Have you ever purchased an item of equipment that you thought could come in very useful only to leave it lying around for months because you could not figure out how to set it up? Or not set all the features up, because it would have taken hours to read through the handbook, which looked as if it had been translated by a computer anyway?
Most individuals have undergone the state of affairs at some time or another. I had an alarm clock some time ago that had dozens of functions like waking me up at different times on the weekend to during the week and arbitrarily selecting a radio channel every day to wake me up. It also had a feature with which I could train it to understand some voice commands, but I could not be concerned with all that.
I just wanted it to wake me up whenever I set it. Video recorders are similar items. How many times do you hear of people setting their video recorder to record a movie only to get a documentary on another channel? It used to occur a lot, didn’t it?
The aspect that I am getting at here is that the designers of these machines have been told to put as many functions as possible into them up to a price in order to be all things to all people. However, in making their machines so convoluted, a lot of people decide not to bother using them at all and will avoid that make in the future, which is the precise opposite of what the manufacturers wanted.
The next time you go out looking for some electrical implement, you will say to yourself: “Oh, So-And-So, you need a degree to use one by So-And-So. I’m not buying one of those”.
So how can this concern you? Well, if you have to organize anything that you want others to take part in or be animated about, try not to make it excessively complex. I am not saying ‘dumb-down’, just don’t show off by putting all the bells and whistles on it simply to show that you can do that. People will not be grateful to you for it, they will ignore your undertaking.
This has a great deal of implications for on line projects where individuals can be thousands of miles apart but still be collaborating on a joint project from home. Open source programming is a fine example of this type of work. The team leaders should keep everything as simple as possible if they want the utmost co-operation.
One technique that you can use to check to see if your project is being understood is to ask. It sounds self-evident and it should be, but a lot of team leaders will not ask because they think that it makes them look weak and unknowledgeable. Again, in fact, the opposite is the case. A great team leader is not a tyrant; a good team leader is a good organizer and is thoughtful.
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