During the team building sessions, the team building trainers stimulated a free flow of discussion and interaction between all team members. They used several exercises for this, as well as a relaxed setting in a nice environment. One of the issues coming up, was a complaint by engineers from the Firm that team members at the JV had sort of ceased to stop autonomous thinking. They would only do as told, even if they knew that it would be the wrong thing to do.
Such behavior is completely opposed to the golden rule in a Lean & Agile Project Management environment, that everyone is expected to pull the Andon (red light or yellow cord), as soon as they notice that something’s wrong. Doing an analysis on this habit, we concluded that the two organizations are trapped in an interesting -and quite common- loop:
The Firm is usually quite harsh on deviations and project managers like to punish by delaying or cutting payment of services, when things are not done as ordered.
As a consequence, engineers at the JV are reluctant to take any initiative and like to ask permission for every single deviation. This leads to considerable delays and drives project delivery to work under stress just before delivery date. When it’s too late, the JV staff need to take decisions anyway. Since they don’t dare to do proper autonomous thinking, these decisions are often wrong and lead to errors and mistakes.
As a result the staff at the Firm will react harsh again, relaunching the entire cycle.
Upon this discussion, the Teambuilding Trainers showed a video on the Milgram Experiment.
This experiment demonstrates how innocent people can be seduced to do the wrong thing under certain conditions. This -quite shocking- footage, helped a lot to address what seems to be the core problem in the organization between the Firm and the JV. Somehow, the people in the organization had ceased to talk about problems and issues and were far removed from a sound problem solving mode. We decided to make it top priority to improve the joint solution of problems during all stages of project execution and included into the collaborative design of our method of continuous improvement.