Posted On: Sunday, 31 October 2010 by Rajiv Popat

Builders and Story tellers have their own set of problems.

One of the biggest ones is that if you are an amazing builder or an amazing story teller, chances are that you are an artist.

You get ideas in the shower that are so strong that they hold you by your collar and do not let you go till you put them within the curly braces of code functions or on the light grey pages of a notebook or a word document.

You get fragments of inspiration.

You get headaches with multiple threads of ideas running in your brain at night as you try to sleep.

You thrive at creativity but your problem is that you cannot fill your tax forms without mistakes.

Your problem is that you can get an entire system built but sometimes you blank out and forget what it is that Jack in your team is supposed to be working on.

Dam! You said you will put that down in that excel sheet. You said you were going to get better at tracking.

Newsflash: You are just wasting your time trying to become someone you are not. You are a builder. Not a mover. There is a difference between the two.

Every project requires builders.

Every project requires story tellers.

What every project also requires are movers.

A mover is an otherwise quite tester who walks up to the developers desk and casually reminds him what he needs to work on for today without brining a truck load of process in the middle. His business card or title does not entitle him to remind developers what they need to work on.

But he does it anyway, because creating movement is a part of his nature.

Strangely enough, Instead of resisting or saying no, the builder, listens to him because he knows the mover is not bossing around. He is just helping by being himself.

A mover is an otherwise silent document formatter, who points out the critical features the team has been missing for the last three sprints and that you, the project manager have completely forgotten about.

When Jack says he is done and is about to sign off, the mover jumps out of nowhere and reminds him with a smile that there was a bug that he had said he would close but never did.

A mover notices the slightest of broken windows.

A mover is not in your face. A mover is not irritating. A mover is NOT a manager. A mover does not go around with Gantt Charts and detailed project plans. Yet, a mover is ten times more efficient than a dozen managers running around with their Gantt charts.

Being a mover, means that you "have to" be moving. You have to be in a team that is moving. You sense movement. If your team is slowing down you are the first one to sense it. If your team is moving at a dangerous velocity you notice that too.  But you don't freak out. You don't whine asking others to speed up or slow down. You silently and quietly create an environment where more thrust is applied or thrust is reduced.

I don't consider myself to be a very good mover. I am nowhere closed to being organized. I don't remember stuff. But every time I work in a project that has a team size of more than one, there is always a mover involved. My current project at work for example has multiple movers.

Almost every given day I am nudged by a mover or two reminding me about the stuff that I had promised I would do and I did not do. The movers understand that my bosses called and wanted me to work on an urgent document during the weekend.

But then the movers are relentless. The movers will also be at my desk Monday morning, just casually chatting about what they did during the weekend and then just as they are leaving, reminding me that if I am free I can take up that bug that I said I would fix before the urgent document came up.

If you give me the slightest of hints about taking the movers out of my project and I will fight fiercely to keep them in my project, because while the builders are building stuff and the story tellers are weaving stories, the movers are watching the speedometer, the broken windows and the loose ends, rushing to remind you with a smile that you missed that final stroke of brush in your painting.

Have you identified at least one mover in your project? If you haven't, chances are that your project is fumbling right now as you read this, even if you have both, builders and storytellers working on your project. Go find a mover. Then give him the liberty of being himself and let him build some movement with a gentle nudge every time he sees your speedometer fall, your window break or your painting finish without that final touch up.

I wish you good luck.

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