Still waiting for the start of the pilot of making a project plan within one week, we decided to run some experiments on doing the Toyota Kata in some of the projects. This proved very valuable as a learning process and in fact we managed to tackle some impediments too.
We choose three projects to test the habit of doing project reviews. Since teams are quite scattered, working from different offices across the country, we started with the project managers only, from both sides of the operation: the Firm, acting as the client, and the JV, acting as the supplier. We set up 30 minutes meetings, one of which we were able to do life. The other two we did through a conference call.
The agenda included a brief introduction, which allowed to refer to the points raised during the team building sessions, to the point ball game and to the video’s shown there. This included the one showing Continuous Improvement in Nut Cracking by Crows.
Every time I see it, I wonder how many birds lost their lives to get to this breakthrough improvement!
The five questions
After watching the video, we set out for the agenda of the meeting:
- What has been our target for last week?
- What have we accomplished?
- How come we didn’t accomplish all we wanted to?
- What do improve first?
- When will we see any results?
The first reaction to this agenda was quite defensive, specially from the part of the JV. “Everything is ok, we’re on track, yes, we’re busy, it’s going well, project under control…”. When we cleared the air, taking away fear that talking about goals and achievements, wouldn’ t lead to repercussions and discounts on the fees to be paid, we were ready to go.
Target for last week
It wasn’t possible to identify a clear target for last week to begin with. At least not a shared target. The Firm’s Project Manager had been expecting certain results (a planning, a testing schedule, drawings, price lists, permits), the JV’s project managers didn’t know these items were due during the last week. They were used to having 8 weeks to deliver everything at once. They were used to do most of the work towards the end of this 8 week period and were somewhat surprised that they were now being questioned on detailed performance. This by the way, is one big difference between Lean & Agile Project Management and conventional project management. In Lean & Agile we expect tiny results every week, in conventional project management client wait for months to see the end product only.
Accomplishment and problem statement
The second question was even less pleasant to go through. The project managers showed to have nothing entirely completed. Some items were 80% complete, others 15% or 50%. But nothing was really done or finished. So nothing could be ticked off…
This meant that our answer to the third, fourth and fifth questions was simple. We hadn’t accomplished what we wanted to, because we hadn’t clarified clearly what it was we really wanted. In all three meetings, we decided to be much more specific on the expected outcome for next week. We defined specific products to be delivered. In this stage we accepted to simply use product names and we didn’t bother to make User Stories of these products yet.
This led to an astonishing relief. We were done in less than 30 minutes, nobody was found shouting or complaining and we solved the issue, right there -at least for the first next week…- So, this is to be continued.
This blog is part of my LAPM Implementation Journal: