The essence of FTTM success is Refresh Planning. The key to deploying Refresh Planning is to make it a habit. It is the rhythm of the process which drives team rhythm that makes it effective as one of the key factors of schedule acceleration -- it is the rhythm of accountability.
Sounds easy, but it is very hard to make it a team habit; and to change existing bad habits about project accountability. It means breaking current bad-habits and then instituting a new one. Our experience is that it takes 6+ weeks to get it going and longer to make it effectiveness (i.e. teams realizing significant schedule acceleration). On complex cross-functional projects it can take months.
Habits are formed by first being triggered by a CUE, then followed by a ROUTINE, ending with a REWARD (source: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg).
With refresh planning the CUEis the scheduled meeting time (e.g. 11:00AM Thursdays) in the same room (project warroom), and with the same people (the core team with no exceptions). Just doing this takes some teams many weeks to get right. The meeting starts on time and ends on time -- this in itself is rare today in business where 10-15 minute delays are the norm. On FTTM projects, bad meeting behavior is not tolerated since the first part of the acceleration habit is to be on time to the acceleration meeting! If a team can't meet on time, they will never finish a project on time,
The ROUTINEis the refresh process itself (e.g. update, walk the critical path, breakdown, pull-in, action pull-ins). It also takes weeks to get the right people to come with the right information to make this work. It also takes time to work out/adapt a pull-in process that works best with the project and the core team members.
The final part of the "habit" is to REWARDthe team; which they get when they see the schedule pull-ins. This reward reinforces the behavior change and forms the habit.
Example of the reward resulting from a core team's weekly refresh planning habit
The habit is created when it is reinforced by group behavior and recognition. This is where having a dedicated strong core teamdriving the project enablesthe habit to become the project Modus Operandi. The core team members reinforce the habit.