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Updating the Projects S&T Tree #TOCICO16

Another talk on Strategy & Tactics Trees at the conference came from Michael Hannan of Fortezza Consulting. In this discussion he suggested updating the current "projects" S&T Tree to be more universal to any project-delivery organization.

The standard projects S&T was built under the assumption that the company applying the tree is engaged primarily in selling the projects.  They get paid to execute projects for their customers. But what if this is not the case? There have been plenty of CCPM implementations for organizations where the projects are primarily delivered internally. Also, there are organizations for which some key elements of the standard S&T may not apply - particularly those involved in basic research. They don't need to be reliable (on time) per se, but they do need to execute projects well.

The current project S&T Tree has two main legs. First is to develop a reliability competitive edge. And then once that is established develop a early delivery competitive edge.  Within each of these are deeper elements around building, capitalizing and sustaining.

Michael's suggestion is to change this approach, realizing that the most important aspect for any project organization is that a project is an investment. There is an expectation that the end result will provide significantly more value than the investment required to get there.  Many organizations don't think this way - they think of their projects as expenses, and act like good stewardship is to drive costs down, rather than to drive resulting value up.  

As a result of this, the first emphasis on this Universal Project S&T Tree is to get more projects done - get more throughput from the system. This links to the familiar TOC principle that there is no upper limit to Throughput.  Within this leg would be standard elements about controlling work-in-process by staggering project release, focusing on flow at the task level, and accelerating project completions.

Once this higher completion rate is established, then focus on building reliability where it is required. This is where he would suggest getting deeper into implementing CCPM schedules and execution methodologies - once the discipline is working at the project and task flow level.  

The next leg of the S&T Tree would be explicitly improve the way projects are selected.  Many organizations find that the projects they run do not deliver expected value. The process of getting the most value from any project organization MUST include improving which projects are selected in order to deliver more and more of the goal units of the organization.  

Finally, the fourth element of the proposed tree is to develop mechanisms to engineer high-impact results during execution. I didn't fully understand this, but the general idea is similar to what John Ricketts talked about earlier in the day: if the environment changes while the project is running, how can we respond in a rational way to take best advantage of those changes? The example he gave is the (hypothetical) Zika virus research program started a year ago with a modest budget. Then six months later it becomes headline news as the virus spreads faster than anticipated. This leg of the S&T focuses on mechanisms to logically re-think existing projects to handle changes on the ground.

I particularly liked this discussion for separating the first two elements more explicitly. The standard S&T for projects talks about getting projects moving and reducing bad multitasking in the context of the Reliability capability. Separating it into building the capability of the organization to finish what you started, and then improve finishing to promise dates is intriguing. It suggests much more emphasis on the basic project execution capacity of an organization.

Change management's hidden secret #TOCICO16

Dynamic Strategy and Tactics Trees at #TOCICO16