Race to Resilience

Traction Tips

A weekly action idea to improve traction on your important initiatives by Stephen Wise.

 

Has it ever happened that your adequate plan takes a wrong turn and just keeps getting worse with every move you make? It is critical to under stand the concept of Resilience so that you have built up your resilience muscles in advance.

Heading to the Airport

We left for Pearson airport right on schedule. It was about 5am, cold and clear. The trip would take about 20 minutes. The international flight was in 3 hours – I was heading for a long planned vacation in Aruba.

My daughter was my driver and she would drop me off and return home with the car.

Change of Plan

On the way she mentioned she was worried the car was low on gas.

Waze

We took the nearest exit on the 401 where I knew a gas station would be nearby. While filling up I turned to the navigation app Waze for help to help get back to the airport. I wasn’t familiar with the area but Pearson is pretty big place; an airport should be hard to miss.

Waze instantly computed a route and declared 31 minutes to destination. The detour was going to be a lot longer than anticipated, and I was suddenly annoyed with myself, “Bad decision to get unnecessary gas when the most important thing was to get to the airport on time”, I was thinking.

Wrong Turn

We turned left, left again and then another right and so on. Eventually Waze declared Mission Accomplished right on scheduled time indipill.com/. I peered out in the dark and nothing was familiar. There were no strings of lights from other arriving and departing cars, no familiar airport way-finding signage nothing.

Waze had delivered us to the service entrance at the back of the airport.

At that point, speed limits became speed suggestions, and I raced to re-trace our path, get back on the 401, and re-enter the proper Pearson departure queue. Once back at arrivals, I lept out of the car.

Arrivals

A very friendly Air Canada rep radioed the gate and ensured my bag was accepted after the cutoff. The sprint through security and customs was heart pounding but successful.

Eventually, I took off for Aruba and it was everything people say about it.

Recovery

When you enter stressful events how do you react?

Do you cope as best you can and then collapse? There is a better way.

I learned from Richard Citrin, an expert in Resilience, that the right approach is to expect stressful situations to occur and prepare in advance to navigate through them and recover.

Resilience

When you are planning your next task, remember to build in enough time for reality. Also, prioritize so that you do the most important things first.

 

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Stephen D Wise

How confident are you with the project forecast?

As every project progresses through it’s lifecycle, the team’s forecast will evolve. The forecast value may move up or down, however, the accuracy of the forecast should always increase. The basis for increasing accuracy is that all estimates are forecasts with some level of uncertainty and as the project progresses the unknowns/uncertainty will decrease. This holds for forecasting any of duration, work effort, or cost.

There are two important concepts in the below figure:

 1)      We see the team’s forecast (solid middle line) moves up and down as time progresses; and,

 2)      the range in value between the High and Low Estimate decreases in steps at each phase.

A key action for the Project Manager is to communicate to all stakeholders that early estimates have higher uncertainty. As part of communication with management and finance stakeholders, I usually ask for a reserve to be added onto my estimates based on the higher uncertainty of estimates and potential negative impact of risks. This amount can be progressively reduced and “given back” as the project progresses over time.

Some types of projects inherently have high uncertainty during initiation and planning. For example, integration of custom software. When faced with projects involving high level of unknown, the Project Manger should use “Three-Point Estimating”. This technique will include the full range of possible values of the estimate and reduces bias that can lead to a highly optimistic or pessimistic estimate.

I usually create custom fields within Microsoft Project 2010 to capture and calculate the three point estimates. The approach is also called PERT. The formula is PERT Estimate = (Optimistic Estimate + 4 X Most Likely Estimate + Pessimistic Estimate) / 6.

 Other project teams that work on a high number of similar projects will develop good enterprise knowledge for making estimates. An example would be an energy and gas company that knows 2 resources can lay pipe at 20 metres per hour and the material cost is $150 dollars per foot. Estimates in these situations can be very accurate, from an early stage.

A Project Manager may have little control of the level of uncertainty or risk when handed a new assignment. However, appropriate application of the concepts above will lead to successfully managing and quantifying estimates of duration, effort, and cost.

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