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Managing Software Teams for Results: Introduction to the Elements of the Core

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The Core 1.0 is the "software" in Jim and Michele McCarthy's book, Software For Your Head. The Core is a system for everyday use among collaborators, technical and non-technical alike. Here, the authors explain the key elements of the Core.
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When multiple people share a vision, they are holding similar or identical imaginary objects in multiple minds simultaneously. Such a multi-personal capability can be used to augment or even replace other, more costly, less pleasurable techniques and tools that are used to delineate that which does not exist. Your team would likely benefit from being in a state of shared vision, if it's not in such a state already. The Core V1.0 offers tools that can move your team into a state of shared vision.

The Core 1.0 is the "software " in our book, Software For Your Head, (Addison Wesley, 2002). The Core is a system for everyday use among collaborators, technical and non-technical alike. The Core is made up of four different types of things: a) Patterns, b) Antipatterns, c) Definitions, and d) Interpersonal Protocols. The first three are things you read and think about, and the last, the Core Protocols, contains things which you read and think about and do. This article surveys all the terrain covered by The Core V1.0, briefly defining all the elements of it.

The Core Protocols are the most important part of The Core, because they prescribe specific behaviors, behaviors we have found lead to favorable results for the person doing the behaving. This has proven true in virtually all cases over six years of The Core's development.

The Core Protocols are really the only things that a Core adopter visibly adopts. While we believe that all of the ideas expressed in The Core are useful, we have actually seen the behaviors specified in the Core Protocols work, time and time again. The difference between a belief and the results of acting on a belief is all the difference of the world.

If your team would like to get to a state of shared vision in the shortest amount of time possible, and with the greatest possible effect, adoption of The Core Protocols is likely the best bet available. Of course, your adoption of the Protocols will be greatly simplified - and both your adoption and ongoing operating costs reduced - by an understanding of the Patterns and Antipatterns surrounding them. But you will never experience the true beauty of The Core unless you personally adopt Core protocols. Imagine that you have an architect's design in hand for a new building. You can imagine the final building more fully than you could without such a document; but you will not enjoy the protection and features of the building until you inhabit it. Then, you will know the architect's skill, or suffer its absence. The Core's design intent is revealed in its adoption rather than its postulation or analysis.

Four Steps to Shared Vision.

Before your team can achieve a state of shared vision, you must accomplish some level of mastery over four distinct areas, and do so both iteratively and in sequence:

  1. Checking In, the management of personal presence, covered in Section I of the Core.

  2. Deciding, practicing unanimous decision-making, covered in Section II of the Core.

  3. Aligning, disclosing motive and setting goals, covered in Section III of the Core.

  4. Envisioning, creating shared vision, covered in Section IV of the Core.

The following presents a very brief introduction, organized by these four major sections, to all the elements of The Core V1.0.

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