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Software Developers Find The Hard Answers

When the BHP Information Technology Software Development Centre in Melbourne changed leadership recently, the pressure was on to adjust to the new arrangements quickly.


New team leader Penny Cayzer and BHP IT National Operations Manager Peter Nikoletatos both knew that high team performance was essential to keep up with the workload faced by the “SDC” team.  The practical task was to do this in the midst of the work, with the support of the team, and in a way that was real, rather than based on classes and the whiteboard.

Penny approached Team Results, having initially been part of an earlier Simulation run for a national team of SDC supervisors two weeks earlier.  While her decision to engage Team Results was based on the success of that earlier Simulation, the challenge this time was quite different.

After talking at some length with Penny and the team, and further referral to ensure an optimal “fit” with the wider business needs of the SDC nationally, Team Results designed a time-compressed, non-residential Simulation that was structured to give a business result in just one and a half days.  A further parameter in the design was that the Simulation had to be portable, and its success reliably repeatable, in other areas of the business around Australia.

Members of the Melbourne Software Development Centre team met on the first afternoon in a conference room at BHP headquarters in the city.  With little or no idea of what to expect, this six-person team soon discovered that they were engaged in a hugely enjoyable quest within BHP IT that accurately simulated the new-leader strategies that worked and did not work for each individual.  As the Simulation moved into its next day at a location near Melbourne, team members took charge of the project and used it to make their own discoveries about handling the leadership change and all the related issues.  These discoveries were then documented, implemented, tested and refined as  the Simulation progressed.

“It’s been very positive”, says Team Leader Penny Cayzer.  “At the start, people had doubts about losing time on yet another program; but now they think it was terrific.  It was well worthwhile”.

“I think we’ve saved at least six months of guesswork”, adds another team member.  “The Simulation was an opportunity to get some reality on how we want to operate, and to avoid a lot of the usual new-team mistakes back at work.”  Adds another, “When we succeeded at the project, I was stunned by what we could do.  I couldn’t believe we had total control, or that the end objective turned out be so real!”

Informal follow-ups and measurement with Team Results’ proprietary Team Dashboard® instrument indicate that business benefits have continued to develop.  Further follow-ups and Team Dashboard®  measurements will follow.

National Operations Manager Peter Nikoletatos concludes, “I think we have finally found something that works”.
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