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Microbial Communities in Project Management

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 3/24/2013

If you're a team leader or manager with a large task at hand, you'll probably need many resources. The people part of your project is essential for success. What are microbial communities in project management? Simply a way of analyzing behaviors and environments that keep projects on track.

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    Creating a Microbial Community

    Many many people by Quiquibu91 

    The thought of a large task that requires many people or team members and one team leader can be frightening. Where does one start? How do you choose what team should complete which task? Even more important, who is right for each team? The answer can be as simple as creating a microbial community within your teams or departments.

    The science of microbial communities simply states that factors and environments help them thrive or fail to grow and produce. Project managers can use the microbial community theory when choosing team members for great effectiveness.

    People do become a part of their work environment. They are intertwined with spaces, capabilities, and, often, thoughts. Mixing together a good microbial team can be done through researching individuality in team members and pairing team members with like-minded partners and work styles.

    Unlike situational management, in which a project manager is given a situation along with the resources to complete and oversee it, microbial project management is a little more involved. It involves taking a look at the human side of your project as well as the technical side. Can the human element affect your project? The answer to that is absolutely--so how can you create your own microbial community to make your project succeed?

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    Judge Human Talents

    Much can be said of a person's skills or past achievements by reading an evaluation or resume. But do those evaluations and resumes always hold true when it comes to choosing and assigning teams? To best create your microbial team, judge human talents and rely on input from other team leaders.

    • The What - What is the project? Define the project in your mind first before you pick the human elements you'll need to complete it.
    • The How - Create a general outline of how you see the project flow. What are the steps needed to complete it?
    • The Who - Here is where your human element comes in. Joining like human elements that are conducive to certain environments will help your project succeed.
    • Environment Grouping - When you created your vision of how the project would flow, did you envision an environment? If not, try to do this through human environmental grouping.

    Dr. Alfred Keuhn, a marketing expert, created Management Science Associates (MSA) and chose his employees through environmental or microbial grouping. It was not just who would work the best together by combining skill sets, it was who would thrive in what office environment as a group effort. With Dr. Keuhn's theory, office environment showed just as much importance as individual skill sets.

    In each department, Keuhn evaluated working times, work ethics, and types of workers. All were different yet shared many of the same skill sets. For his marketing company to thrive and succeed, Dr. Keuhn recognized the need for the creative work environment within each department or community.

    Employees and team members were grouped not only by skill set but by desire, methods, and thriving atmospheres. While project completion was the goal, success was often managed by the team member's abilities within the group. If a group didn't fit, a team member could be changed to an office environment where he or she would thrive.

    Dr. Keuhn's microbial community work groups were at the forefront in 1963 but are still useful today. Using top project and department managers, MSA's working groups were evaluated and changed. They were given opportunity and creativity within their groups. Last, they were aware of their opportunities to either work within the group or change to another group.

    Project managers can use Dr. Keuhn's microbial community method for large projects by taking the time to evaluate, discuss, allow opinions, and focus on working styles. As a project manager, be open to each team member's environment. Ask how they work, not just what they do or how they plan to get the job done. Using microbial communities in project management is more than just choosing which employees will make up one team. It is processing, aligning, accepting, and understanding the individual styles and combining them into one group. Judge your human talents and utilize them to make your microbial community thrive.