Accelerating Your Blueprinting Projects
One of the key topics of our Fall, 2014 Blue Belt Certification course was accelerating Blueprinting Projects. In fact, if one of your colleagues is now a Blue Belt Certified Coach, be sure to ask him or her (or your AIM Coach) to use the new Excel-based “Project Accelerator” to speed up your projects. With this tool, you “dial in” key facts about your Blueprinting project so it can estimate how long it will take to complete. Better yet, it provides 20 suggestions for accelerating your project. Here are some key takeaways:
Some of the timing is simple math: You need to have enough people working on your project, and you need to have a reasonable percent of their time dedicated to the project. Our suggestion? Shoot for at least 1.5 person-months available for your project each month. So if you have one person 50% dedicated and four team members 25% dedicated, you’d hit this minimum.
Does this seem like a lot? It did to us as well, until we explored the concept of “organizational friction.” We’ll speak to that in a moment, but first, here’s one more quick suggestion. We’ve noticed one of the biggest “calendar drags” is scheduling interviews, especially if the interview candidates don’t know your company well.
If you are exploring an unfamiliar market, we strongly advise you find an industry expert that can “open doors” for you. There’s a brand-new company that is doing a wonderful job of helping AIM clients with this. We’ll talk about this more in a future Take AIM issue, but if you want to check them out now, please visit www.supportinginnovation.com.
OK, now on to “organizational friction.” As you might imagine, AIM trainers see a huge range in project speed from team to team, and company to company. Frankly, most of this cannot be explained simply by the number of team members or the number of interviews. We’ve found three types of “organizational friction” that can slow a project, sometimes to a complete standstill.
It is “wishful math” to think that your projects’ timeline is driven strictly by the amount of time each team member has dedicated to your project. When a task is ready to be done, does the appropriate team member “drop everything” to work on it? Or do they have to clear through a good deal of other work first? Research by Michael George (Fast Innovation, p. 55) indicates lead times are four times as great for people at 95% capacity utilizations vs. 65%.
This makes an enormous difference in project speed. Here’s what boosts team motivation: a) Management has sent–and will continue to send–a clear message that this is a top priority project. b) A highly-capable and motivated team leader is in place. c) The team’s success will directly impact members’ personal performance reviews. d) Team members are excited about being part of this team.
Many companies think they are saving money when they institute travel bans and spending freezes. In truth, these disruptions have a very negative economic impact. For typical projects, the loss in net present value (NPV) amounts to tens of thousands of dollars for every month the project is delayed. Work with management to minimize these “cost control” moves, as well as organizational job changes, new initiatives and other disruptions that will impede your team’s smooth work flow.