Note: This blog post is not about Fan Gang 樊刚 - (wiki) one of China's most prominent economists and one China's most active reform advocates
Ok, on to my Case Study response:
First of all, I think "Fan Gang" is a very bad name. Not sure why but "Gang" sounds amateurish to me. But it could be just me, sometimes our views might not quite like others. (http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/09/14/do-users-change-their-settings/)
Ok, on to the discussion questions:
Lanh said, “It would be really bad if we have a great idea but are unable to execute it successfully”. What are your views? Which is more important - the idea or the execution? Why?
I would like to use Prof. Ben's favourite quote to answer this question "it depends". It really depends on the situation. Of course in the context of CS3216 module, execution should take a higher priority. After all there are certain milestone that a team would have to meet by the end of the semester. Poster session is one of it. Like how Jeremy have felt during the Poster Session. It kinda miss the point to have a Poster Session if there were nothing to showcase. But at the same time, without an idea that the team truly believes in (also mentioned in the text) it would be a waste of everyone's time. Having said that, all is not lost if an app does not execute well. Well, if it's not because of what "Fan Gang" group did, Prof. Ben wouldn't have such a wonderful example for this Team Dynamics assignment. "Sometimes in life it could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."
Ok, the demotivational poster is a joke. I didn't mean to disrespect the team's hard work.
But at the very least everyone in the team brought home a valuable lesson. Think about it, isn't this what school is for? A sandbox environment for people to take big risks. Failed. Learn from mistakes.
What have you learnt about Facebook so far?
Facebook? Listen to your users, but not by listening to what they have to say but rather "listen" to their usage behaviour. Throughout Facebook existence, they have changed their user interface so many times that I think even they themselves lost count. Take a trip down Facebook's memory lane here
Comment on the ideas for Another Life and Fan Gang.
I don't want to talk too much about the "idea" of either Another Life or Fan Gang because it hasn't really been tested in a real environment. But judging from the success of "The Sims Social","FarmVille", "CityVille" and many other simulation games, who's to say "Another Life" wouldn't take off if it was executed properly. Same for "Fan Gang", never try never know. Although Prof. Ben was not convinced that people will want to have "Fan Pages" for ordinary people, but now we have "Facebook Like Pages" and what do you know, I'm sure there are even Facebook Pages for cute cats and favourite friends. Maybe if Fan Gang was properly developed back then, Facebook might even take interest and acquire the group? Perhaps it really did happen, in an alternate universe.
Should the team have changed their idea for the Final Project mid-way or stuck to their original idea? Why, or why not?
From the way it was described in the text, the team seem to be more excited about "Another Life" than "Fan Gang". Especially since the decision to change their idea for Final Project was done with a Team Vote, that means it might not a consensus. In retrospect, maybe they would be better off continuing with "Another Life". As I have learned through the hard way, one small ounce of belief in an idea can motivate a person for a long way. The opposite is also true, one small ounce of doubt can grow into toxic and energy will be drained. Sometimes, one small ounce of energy is enough to push through the threshold.
List the major problems (obvious and non-obvious ones) in faced by the team? How could they have done differently and better?
Knowing the limited time frame they have, I think the team is really too ambitious to try to implement everything by the project deadline. I think the team would be in a much better position if they aimed for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) instead of a full feature app at the end of the assignment. In essence I think an Agile Development methodology might suit them better. I might be entirely qualified, but I got the feeling that there are little place left for Waterfall model development in the software development world. Especially since user feedback plays such an important role in the feature of an app.
What did the team do right/well?
I think the team was really thorough in their features/specs list. That is no easy feat.
What would you do if you were Jeremy on the evening of 24th April (and the deadline for the ﬁnal project submission was the next day)?
I would ask my room mate to help as much as he can? I would beg Prof. Ben to extend the deadline? I really don't know. However, If I myself fully believe in the idea and there really is nothing else I can do to salvage the situation, I will start blogging about my whole experience. Although I'm not good at writing, but I found that writing my thoughts down in words help me process my emotions and thoughts better. At the very least I should crystalize the lessons learned so that i will not repeat it again in the future.
How would you handle a situation where one of your team members is unable to deliver on the work he/she promised because of personal problems?
Well, if confronting the person doesn't work, one could complain and rant about it for a little while. But ultimately it's about sucking up your chest and move on. Delegate the remaining task. Cut some features and get it done.
What, in your opinion, are the key learning points from this case study?
As title, "Team Dynamics". Have an idealistic long-term goal but realistic short-term goals. Be tactful when dealing with people. Do not be afraid to take risks.