Technical projects involve learning on many different levels. You learn about your customers, your colleagues, yourself, technologies and techniques, modes of organization, ways to prevent errors, ways to add value, your customer’s project, how to do the next person’s work, and the endless surprises that always seem to crop up. I’ve always liked Bill Moyers’ observation about journalism in his introduction to The Power of Myth, that he wrote with Joseph Campbell.
A journalist, it is said, enjoys a license to be educated in public; we are the lucky ones, allowed to spend our days in a continuing course of adult education.
In truth the journalist brings a particular set of tools which allow that learning. A project team brings a set of skills it applies in its own way. The team isn’t just a machine meant to apply skills but also to learn—about everything listed above. This requires an open mind and the ability to adapt on the part of all participants. It is up to leaders at all levels to encourage everyone to be a mutually supporting part of the process.