Getting Teams Fast - Quickly

We're often challenged to make teams fast, quickly. A client once asked us to get his team up and running and competent in the planning system within two weeks. This meant we had to compress the learning time of the team from many weeks (or months in some cases) to under two weeks. The challenge was: how?

We all know that learning is an iterative cycle of trying, learning then improving for the next time around. We've discussed this before a previous posting on Do-it, Try-it, Fix-it cycles of learning. After discussing "how do we do it?", it dawned on us that this iterative approach of learning is inherently built in to the refresh planning approach of fast teams.

Refresh planning is the concept of updating a schedule to bring it up to date, then pulling it in. Pulling-in the schedule relies on interaction with team members (and often their customers) to break-down the near term into smaller duration activities and looking for creative ways to accelerate the program.

What if we got these teams refreshing their schedules daily? Over a two week period, they would go through 10 refreshes (in other words, 10 cycles of learning) with us coaching them. Typically about 3-5 cycles are needed to grasp a concept, so by the time the team has done 10 refreshes, it should be fully ingrained in the way they manage their program.

Our observations over the past year from doing this with teams is a dramatic change in how fast these teams get competent in the planning system. This has resulted in projects they gain control over faster that in turn translates into earlier schedule acceleration.