Because everyone in the organisation needs to understand that they are playing for the same team
Too often performance is viewed in silos, where efficiency stats are compiled and monitored by department. This can create unnecessary tensions within the business. And, as we know from Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), it can also create self-fulfilling overly long project schedules. A more holistic vision is required.
We’ve already discussed that a good overview is essential for the correct identification of your constraint and, as per the Theory of Constraints (TOC), to prevent inertia. When we apply TOC to projects using CCPM it’s just as vital.
Firstly, to dispense with the tendency to create task buffers.
Adding a buffer or ‘time safety’ to each task is the inevitable outcome of monitoring in silos, for instance, by team or by department. Each team or department will want to deliver on schedule and so each will factor in an element of safety to ensure they can do this.
CCPM teaches us that this is quickly eroded by Student Syndrome and Parkinson’s Law.
Instead, cutting the estimated time for tasks and establishing a single project buffer will enable a better visibility of overall project performance.
Then, secondly, our holistic vision becomes essential for monitoring performance against this project buffer. Managers must review performance against the buffer regularly and communicate this effectively to all project workers. In this way, remedial action can be planned and taken quickly when the project buffer starts to be consumed.
So how do we engender a holistic vision, not just for managers, but for the whole team? How do we communicate the big picture? I’m a big fan of visual communication. CCPM provides many tools to help communicate performance: fever charts, prioritised task lists, the rhythm wheel…
Use what you have and, most importantly, what works for you. Communicating performance messages is the core of it, but isn’t the whole. Recently, in one organisation we are working with, we established a display on one of the walls of the staff canteen. The display showcased a profile of each of the organisation’s major competitors. Each competitor profile included information about its news, performance and any major sales opportunities on which the organisation was in direct competition.
It was a fantastic way of focusing the whole organisation on its real competitors. Each team member could see the organisation’s external competitors every time they sat down for lunch or a cup of coffee. Everyone could focus their mind on the external threat, rather than dwelling on grievances and conflicts within the business.
People within the business began to talk and think as a team. They began to get the holistic vision. There are many elements to this; internal performance needs to be communicated too, to ensure that people are aware of where they stand and how the changes taking place are manifesting in terms of improved performance.
Change is a big ask of any business and it needs to be supported by the communication of the resulting good news stories and recognition of all the team’s achievements. Here, too, visual communication can play a part.
I’d encourage all businesses to think laterally about ways to communicate your own holistic vision.