Values instead of injections #TOCICO14

Rob Newbold of ProChain held a session, diving into one of the big themes of his book, The Project Manifesto.  (I wrote about this a couple months ago.) It was good listening to him talk about it, as I picked up some things I hadn't appreciated from reading the book alone.  

He opened in talking about an interesting aspect of implementing changes in organizations. We are often fascinated with the change we want to implement: the process, the technology, the new rules. Our customers are fascinated too - they are sure this new thing will be the solution.  But with any change there are going to be conflicts between the new way and the old way.  TOC traditionally addresses conflicts head-on (see "evaporating clouds").  But Newbold suggests that we often ignore the inconvenient conflicts that a change creates - particularly a change on the scale of TOC operational changes, whether CCPM, DBR or Replenishment. This is why Newbold wrote his latest book.

In CCPM implementations, we tell people to focus, stop multitasking, finish the current work, don't introduce new work right away, focus on the goals of the organization.  But these things run heavily against common practice, and many of the processes introduced in an implementation don't provide enough guidance on how to change common practice.  

So instead of fighting against the common practice, why not nudge people in the right direction by talking about what we prefer - what we value. This runs against the familiar TOC perspective of removing the conflict. This describes the paradigm of the Relay Race (this obviously borrows from the Agile Manifesto):

  1. We value priorities over responsiveness.
  2. We value finishing over starting.
  3. We value speed over deadlines.
  4. We value shared goals over individual goals.

These values describe a subornation. We prefer A over B, but both exist.  For example, Starting something new should subordinate to finishing what you already have in flight.  Obviously, you have to start things at some point, but make sure you finish first.  Newbold talked about how these values interact to create a virtuous cycle, driving toward the "relay racer" mentality in project environments.  Newbold's development of these values also created a parallel set of work standards.  These emerge from discussion of the values - what do people do to make these values come to life?

Surprisingly, his thinking around these elements leads him to de-emphasize the familiar "stop multitasking" mantra.  It's something that has been bothering me from time to time as well - sure I can describe the ill effects of multitasking and encourage people (and myself!) to multitask less.  But how do I do that in an environment that appears to value responsiveness, deadlines, starting the next exciting activity, and focusing on personal goals?  These values point in a different direction - emphasize what you value instead of these things.  Help people think about what it means to value A over B.  

Along with the values driving the work practices, the values should drive the need for technology, rather than the technology being introduced without context.  From a CCPM perspective, these values suggest a number of topics that we normally bring into an implementation.  But do they necessarily suggest CCPM alone?  

Another aspect of these values - maybe they aren't exactly the right relative values for your implementation.  Maybe the work standards don't quite fit.  Talk with your colleagues and partners to find the "inconvenient conflicts" and devise the right relative values that will help move the organization in the right direction.

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