Pragmatism, practicality and positivity


This interview was part of the Ergon Magazine SMART insights 2021. Order your free copy now ->

Lots of people. Lots of ideas. And even more opinions. Implementers help the team to find and maintain focus. They're conscientious, reliable and have the discipline that it takes.  

Why is focus so important - especially with large, complex projects?

Without focus, you run the risk of getting bogged down in details and ultimately getting nowhere. I worked as a project quality manager for a time. We got together as a team to see what our strengths were and where we had problems with a need to invest. The task then was to focus on where we could add the greatest value at the least expense. 

How do you manage to keep this focus when you're being bombarded by new ideas and issues?

Being well structured helps, especially with big projects. On the project I was quality manager for this fell to me of course. Once a week, we coordinated with all of our stakeholders on what issues needed to be addressed and then prioritised them – with a healthy dose of pragmatism, mind you. That's how we made sure that we were always on course. 

How does that pragmatism affect teamworking?

It means that we get organised, consider what needs to be done, agree between ourselves and stick with it. It's also important to make a decision at some point and not talk everything to death. There's no doubt that questioning and reflection are important, too. That said, you do sometimes need the confidence and courage to be clear that the decision was the best one based on what you knew at the time, that you’ll now focus on it and that you won't question it again for another two or three months. The team's acceptance is crucial here, even if the course of action isn't everyone's first choice. You have to reach a fundamental consensus and ensure that everyone is pulling together. 

"For a good working relationship, you need a certain emotional maturity and mutual respect."

Samuel Zürcher Senior Software Engineer, Ergon

Which member of the team takes care of that?

It might be the project manager but not necessarily. You might find that it emerges organically and that there's someone in the team who has a particular passion or skill in a given area. It's then natural for them to organise and structure it. 

What do you like doing?

I like challenges, at the technical level mainly, but also at the organisational. With big projects in particular, it's great to have the genuine opportunity to guide and influence and therefore to make a real difference. 

How does the perfect team look, skills-wise?

You need lots of different capabilities. People who have good ideas, for example. Then you need those who bring structure to that idea and also ensure that the related tasks get done. Techies are also important because they know everything down to the smallest detail. The most important thing is that everyone is able to do their bit to the best of their ability and that they communicate with each other. What you don't need are people who are just on an ego trip and don't care what's going on around them. 

For a good working relationship, you need a certain emotional maturity and mutual respect. You need to tell each other that you've got this, together. That you're all in it together. Even if someone messes up, it doesn't matter as long as we know that we can deal with it as a team and that we can rely on each other. 

This interview is part of the series "Unsung heroes" in SMART insights 2021. You can find an overview with all interviews here.

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