This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Game to demonstrate CCPM #TOCICO

Dee Jacob (author of Velocity - my review) provided a workshop of a game she has been developing over many years of practice in critical chain project management. I have looked around for games or simulations to help highlight the critical pieces of critical chain, and this is the best I've seen.

Dee Jacob CCPM game board

Dee Jacob CCPM game board

Often, CCPM education includes games about multitasking (paper tearing, ABC-123, or the bead game), but they don't give you a good sense of how to plan or what project execution looks like. Or you tell people that the only way to get a sense of CCPM is to use some new software to manage all the moving parts. Roadblock! (And even with newer software approaches, the setup feels like an obstacle.) But working inside software doesn't give people a good sense of the interactions. And I've never been thrilled with "simulating" time.  This is where physical games come in handy. You can just say, "And now it is tomorrow."

In this particular demonstration, the game is designed to demonstrate project execution concepts under critical chain. Dee describes three key gauges: Buffer management, Task execution priority and Resource loading. Buffers are in a CCPM plan to help guard against variability during execution - both at the overall project level and at integration points (where tasks link to the critical chain).  The buffer consumption information helps to provide task execution priorities. Tasks are prioritized based on their connection to buffer consumption.  I liked one element that she added on feeding buffer prioritization. Not only do you have the remaining buffer, but if the integration point moves due to delays on the critical chain, the "execution gap" should be added to the remaining available buffer for a feeding chain, to acknowledge the greater protection available.  And the third element, that is often left out, is the idea of reviewing upcoming resource loading, based on the current status of the project tasks. As variability strikes the project, not only do the buffers absorb the variability but the task-level demand profile changes for the resources needed on the project. This games makes that much more evident.

In the context of the game, variability is created through a deck of cards that indicate whether there are task start delays and how long the task itself takes (relative to its original duration).  I could imagine doing something similar with dice rolls. 

I liked how the execution of the game helped give people a sense of what it means to operate their projects with buffer management. The game leader can ask questions like "are we worried" about the overall project or about specific tasks. Pick up on comments that people make like, "why is that guy taking so long?" to highlight the reality of project work - sometimes it takes longer, and this shouldn't be cause for punishment.  Check the impact on the project and decide how to react in order to ensure the project can meet its commitments. 

One difference from what I do in CCPM is the way Dee has decided to represent project buffers. I normally use a fever chart / trend chart that plots the buffer consumption (vertical) vs longest chain complete (horizontal). This generally shows red if you are consuming buffer faster than completing longest chain and green if moving along the chain faster than the buffer (with yellow in the middle).  Her method, decreasing buffer size management, tries to acknowledge that you need less buffer as you execute.  I think a decent fever chart does the same, but I can see the point. Her approach more explicitly demonstrates the idea of buffer recovery.  Or maybe it was simpler because we can easily draw on paper. Another thing to consider for the future. 

As I experienced the game, I was reminded of the Get Kanban board game I experienced in a Kanban course a few years ago. There are similar elements: variability, moving resources, cards to inject events, etc.

Next step for me: get a copy of the materials from Dee Jacob and test it out.

Making your own future #TOCICO16

Naturally motivating environments #TOCICO16