Posts Tagged ‘project success’

Do you want to know when you are falling into the Peter Principle and what to do about it?

Here is a brief run down helping to predict when the fall could occur:

Note: All eight shown on the left are needed for a team to be well rounded and maintain success. If any are missing there is the risk of developing a blind spot in that area causing trouble to brew.




Jumping into the fray and taking charge. Observe, be still and distill what is going on to a simple, insightful statement
Comparing, in detail, what is happening now to what has occurred in the past. Look at all the possibilities and develop options in the absence of rules.
Compassionately making sure everyone is taken care of. Build an over-arching mental picture that models the situation in detail.
Determining the principles and values needed in the situation. Take charge and command the group as to what to do next.
Observing, being still and distilling what is going on to a simple, insightful statement Jump into the fray and take charge.
Looking at all the possibilities and developing options in the absence of rules. Compare, in detail, what is happening now to what has occurred in the past.
Building an over-arching mental picture that models the situation. Compassionately make sure everyone is taken care of.
Taking charge and commanding the group as to what to do next. Determine the principles and values needed in the situation.


A classic example of this is being top-heavy with people who compare everything to the past. When trying to institute change there can be quite a bit of push back voiced in the saying, “We’ve always done it this way and there’s no reason to change.” They have a hard time seeing that change is needed as well as difficulty in determining all the possible ways the situation can be dismantled and improved. Not knowing how things will work in detail drives them nuts.

Something you may notice is that the attributes flip, i.e., when A is strong where B is weak then B is strong where A is weak. You may see an initial knee-jerk reaction between the two that is negative. In moving the team forward an approach that works in such situation is:

Assign both people to the same task. Judge their performance as a group rather than individually.

This creates a tension encouraging them to see that there is benefit in working with the other. It’s a lot like marriage.

As the team spirit develops a key characteristic for success emerges – interdependence!

It is this interdependence that is the basis for success. It means that as each person works to deal with his piece of the project in his minds eye the solution is interwoven with the pieces provided by others on the team. Things begin to click

Resilience Engineering #13: Tap Dancing on Ball Bearings

by Gary Monti on September 13, 2011

Moving quickly and accurately in an ever-changing environment is a key business skill in today’s environment. Success insures the competition will be coming at you even harder possibly using the tips, tricks, tools, and techniques you’ve created and mastered. Let’s look at what it takes to survive.

The Dynamic vs. The Product

To work in the environment described above resilience is needed. Resilience is about the dynamic, about how a system responds to shifts in the environment, rather than just focusing on the product or a specific component in the system. I tell clients and students the following:

“Working in a resilient manner is like tap dancing on ball bearings.”

Staying with ball bearings but shifting the frame of reference, look at the illustration. If the project falls into the trough, a dramatic, irreversible change can occur. This is the terrain of complex systems.

What To Do?

Managing projects in such situations is as much an art as a science.  A risk management perspective can help an organization gauge its survivability by assessing the three types of responses possible in changing situations.

  • Passive acceptance. The change that occurs can simply be allowed to play out.  This is acceptable when we have a good sense of the ripple effect and feel it will dampen out or have a low impact. An example from a previous blog goes like this: 10 animals are charging you. You have 4 bullets in your gun. Which do you shoot? Well, if one is the rabbit Thumper from “Bambi” passive acceptance will probably work. With passive acceptance we take the risk of doing nothing until AFTER the threat has turned into a problem. What if Thumper has rabies and bites?
  • Active acceptance. This is one of the most popular responses. For example, a tiger team is formed to find out why the installation is failing at several sites. This is fixing the problem when in the thick of things. With active acceptance something is done DURING the time the threat is turning into a problem.
  • Mitigation. “Thinking ahead and executing a strategy” would be the watch-phrase for mitigation. It comprises doing something BEFORE the threat is actualized and turns into a problem. Hiring extra staff that has field experience and including them during the planning phase so as to get their expertise into the design before the installation is a good example of mitigation. The team can double-dip on this one because the extra staff will also be available during active acceptance. This balancing act is dynamic. There is nothing static about it.

There is no setting-and-forgetting.


Think of how the hiring of extra experienced field staff affects the dynamic of the entire project. Let’s look at what the word “experienced” means regarding all stakeholders and team members, not just the field staff.  It means having people well-versed and seasoned in the four capabilities of resilience:

  • Knowing what has happened
  • Knowing what to look for
  • Knowing what to expect
  • Knowing what to do

In working with clients I’ve found that focusing on these four capabilities up, down, and across the organization and developing a harmonized, orchestrated corporate sensitivity to risk management increases the ability to do the tap dancing and deliver the product. It is this esprit de corps that helps insure the success.