Description of Methodology

During the first hour of the seminar an overview of the material including the objectives of the course, and how those objectives will be achieved will be provided.  During this part of the course the material is motivated by identifying at a high level the typical challenges faced on distributed development efforts.  The focus is on how distributed development challenges differ from traditional collocated efforts.  


As the course progresses the instructor will engage participants in increasing in depth discussions by asking a series of questions.  The questions at first appear easy to answer which helps to get the group involved.   These questions relate to how managers do their job today in traditional project environments.  As the course proceeds, more discussion occurs facilitated by specific scenarios that are presented.   The participants are challenged to address how they might handle their previously discussed traditional job activities as they face a distributed development environment.


Fundamental to the methodology is to engage the participants in open discussions with the goal of getting them to use their own experience to help find practical solutions and options to the new challenges they will face.  After each of these “discovery discussions” best distributed practices others have used, along with pitfalls to avoid are shared. 


This methodology is effective because it leads to a focus on the real problems the participants face, rather than on theoretical situations they may have trouble relating to, as often happens when pre-packaged, or poorly tailored, training material is employed.  


Tools employed include powerpoint slides, easels with white pads, and large wall space to tack up results of discussions for ease of reference back.


Pedagogical Approach to Achieving Objectives


Fundamental to the pedagogical approach is to involve the participants in discovering the issues they will face, where things will be different from their previous experiences, what their options are, and advantages and disadvantages of each.  Then to reinforce what they have discovered by sharing best practices and pitfalls learned by others. 


By using interactive real scenarios that are developed to closely relate to the participants real job we make it easier for the participants to interact and maintain interest.  It is easier for them because they know how they operate today and we have found through experience giving similar workshops that most people are comfortable entering into discussions related to how they do their job today. 


Through the discussions we consider “what-if” scenarios and ask participants to share how they would handle various situations. By comparing how they operate in a collocated environment to what might be different when the team is distributed, they begin to discover their own answers.  This approach tends to have far better long term results than just telling the participants what they should do.


This approach works best because the participants not only learn the best techniques, but they learn why these techniques are necessary by discovering for themselves the new challenges and issues they will face in a distribute environment.


Where possible we prefer to use real scenarios that directly relate to the participants current situation.  This allows us to provide real-time project help through the training.  This is a clear benefit over pre-packaged training material where participants may have difficulty relating to the material presented.  I have used this technique successfully in the past where we have actually used the workshop to facilitate planning a distributed project or “refining” an existing plan.  This is the best form of training because it helps people with the actual challenges they are facing on their real projects today. 


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