Technical Committees
Section 6.7.
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Leading a Technical Committee

Each technical committee needs a definition of what it's for (why it exists and what it does), how it organizes what it does and how this fits into the larger scope of the project, and a list of specific tasks that individuals can do.

You'll want to develop three major documents defining the committee's work:

Charter Defines what the committee is for. It tells what the committee is responsible for doing, and what authority it has.
Work Breakdown Structure The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) starts at the top of the task list -- the major goals of the committee. Then it breaks down the committee's work into ever-more-detailed chunks. When we get all these put together, anyone working on the program will see how what he's doing fits into the grand scheme of things. Each top-level item in the WBS ought to align to a statement in the committee's charter.

Task List The detailed list of tasks, aligned under the WBS. These tasks are defined at the level we will ask an individual to do something. It is essentially the lowest tier of the WBS.

Put these documents on line in your committee's web space. For more information about how to do that, see the notes about electronic communication and the ASI Web Management System in section 9 of the Artemis Data Book. Once you've got them on line, you'll want to make a regular habit of keeping them updated, so that everyone on your team knows what's going on.

The task list should include defining the WBS and the Task List, and even developing the organization's charter. Just figuring out what needs to be done is half the job, so the committee chairmen should use all the brainpower and talent available to the team when writing these documents.

Some folks are good at this; many are not. Don't worry if you're in a leadership role but working out these task plans isn't your bag. Out there in big business, the President of the company doesn't do these things. He has a staff of people to do it; and if they're smart, they go through the whole organization chart so that the real experts are contributing to the definition of work for their team.

At McDonnell Douglas there is an unofficial group of guys who are really good at this. They wander from project to project, getting it all set up. After that it's much easier for the individual organizations to keep their task plans updated.

That's the essence of leadership and team participation: Use the best talent you have available to get the job done. Your role as a team leader is to:

If everyone on your team is completely befuddled by the idea of writing charters and work breakdown structures and task definitions, it's always fair game to go recruiting for help among the larger population. Just post in the osf-team-leads list, or even on artemis-list, asking for help.

Don't forget to include your name and email address in the body of your message, because the mailing lists (especially artemis-list) sometimes hide that information.

I expect that people will be delighted to help out with this. If enough of the team leads ask, we might even see a team of task-planning experts coalesce among those who are not currently participating.

Also, if you need administrative support to keep track of all these things, don't hesitate to post a note asking for volunteers. Let me encourage you to ask for administrative support; besides making your life easier, it creates a position for folks who aren't into the nitty-gritty technical details. We've written some detailed descriptions of responsibility and authority for existing administrative support positions which you might use as a guide.

If there are tools and resources you need besides the general forums like artemis-list and asi-osf-leads, don't hesitate to ask. The Electronic Communications Technical Committee has already developed the most powerful electronic communication tools that exist today, so there's a good chance they either already created what you need, or they will be able to build new tools that will make the job easier. Besides, the worst answer you can get is that we don't yet have the resources you need.

Technical Committees

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