Project Monitoring 2.0 is a collaborative systemic monitoring approach for project management to bring the “people” part of project activity into focus to get earlier insight into problems. It is built on Vlatka Hlupic’s Six Box Leadership Model to identify and assess the systemic variables required to proactively facilitate the means rather than reporting the ends of performance.
With the advancement of technologies and methodologies to manage projects better we still have far too many projects fail to meet deadlines, budgets, customer expectations, targets or simply die prior to have generated positive returns. Conflicts between project teams, IT, and business functions still permeate projects even with these new approaches.
The reasons why many project efforts are still doomed to fail are many, but possibly the most critical are:
- OUTDATED PROJECT MANAGEMENT METHODS: Project management methods based on scientific management are too inflexible, static and inefficient for today’s Knowledge Age
- INADEQUATE FEEDBACK: Project reporting replaces monitoring and tracking; without sufficient and timely feedback, the project team members are ill suited to take preemptive and corrective measures to stop ineffective actions or to adequately adapt to situational changes
- SEPARATION OF PLANNING AND EXECUTION: Insufficient or missing information structures that communicate vision, strategy, objectives, and intentions may lead to the absence of a “big picture”. This creates the breeding ground for interest conflicts, control dilemmas, non-aligned business requirements and objectives
- STRONG METHOD FOCUS: Most energy and ideas go into project management methods (agile, SCRUM etc.) and tools rather than in redesigned work practices supportive to team performance
- STRONG TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: Most project management innovations are specifically focused on technical project management tools or come out of technically oriented consulting firms promoting their own approaches
- REDUCTIONIST VIEW: Problems are seen as separate entities and not as parts of holistic systems
- ANALYTICAL THINKING: Focus on the parts rather than the whole
- REFORMATION THINKING: Project management is constantly improved but has never been redesigned from the scratch at all (idealized design)
- CHANGE RESISTANCE: Incrementalism and inertia promote backwards orientation rather than innovation
The problem that has to be overcome resides in practising real project management rather than project administration and controlling! The ability to manage projects is built upon five key capabilities:
1) A model or concept of how social systems work in order to understand the underlying drivers of performance
2) Collective real time feedback about the actual state of the system (performance)
3) A collective, interactive, and reflective facilitation processes to effectively make use of the knowledge, understanding, and insights of all participants (the system) to efficiently close performance gaps
4) The availability of means (technology platform, facilitation, support etc.) to put reflection into action by making the right decisions, selecting the right options, and engaging the right people
5) An interactive connection between planning and work behaviors to ensure adaptation, resilience, and development
Therefore, effective feedback is the backbone function for any project to keep behaving in a desirably way over time and under uncertainty. Without effective feedback, change will either happen too late (reporting), change will address the wrong things (absence of concept about what drives performance), or initiate the wrong measures (insufficient information regarding the root-causes). Therefore, this hack challenges the current notion of what project monitoring is, what it should do, and how it should be practiced.
The relevance of having this problem addressed cannot be overstated enough. Project management is a generic management discipline generally accepted and used to achieve small to large scale change around the globe. Executing project monitoring only slightly better than today would account to the saving of billions of dollars every year by avoiding the destructive effects of “working faster,” “slack off,” “working more,” “adding people,” or “slipping deadlines,” namely fatigue, burnout, experience dilution as well as congestion and communication difficulties.
It all starts with understanding and insight about the effective levers of project management. Therefore, project monitoring and intervention is the most essential thing to redesign and to improve in order to get the performance and resilience possible, desirable, and necessary in the complexity and uncertainty driven world we face today.
For more information regarding the “Synthetic vs. Analytic Thinking or Looking at the Interactions, not the Parts,” please refer to the supplementary document.
“The subtler psychological point is that it is easier to document and track a project or activity if you can do it in the flow of what you are doing, rather than returning after the activity is complete.” Amy Wilson
The basic design of Project Monitoring 2.0 rests on the following principles:
1. Management of Means (MbM) and Management of Exception (MbE) to complement reactive controlling with proactive real-time monitoring
- Collaborative evaluation and adaptation of actions according to the actual situation and change requirements.
- Embedding communication exchange and knowledge transfer into the natural behavioral processes and work flows of stakeholders, managers, and employees alike.
- Facilitation and engagement of work styles and behaviors in all project related processes by utilizing monitoring instead of after action reporting.
- Interconnecting the collaborative planning process (ends planning) with the means (actions, initiatives, systems etc.) through holistic means monitoring (a Six Box Leadership Model based feedback function) and forward oriented gap facilitation.
For more information regarding the “Relationship between Project Monitoring 2.0, Collaborative Business Planning, and Using a transparent Points System for Reward Management,” please refer to the supplementary document.
2. Addressing the right levers (means) by using the Six Box Leadership Model
The systemic / holistic management based Six Box Leadership Model was developed by Professor Vlatka Hlupic (based on the Performance Ecosystem).
This model focuses on identifying bottlenecks to value creation and moving an organization from Management 1.0 to Management 2.0. The model comprises more than 150 factors that drive value creation (e.g. performance, innovation and engagement) in six interconnected areas: culture, relationships, individuals, strategy, systems, and resources. Whilst the Six Box Leadership tool is available for the analysis of bottlenecks in entire organization, for the purpose of this hack, the focus is on using this concept to improve project management.
For more information regarding the “The Research Background of the Six Box Leadership Model,” please refer to the supplementary (attached) document.
3. Distributing the control function from the few in command and control (MbR) to the many by collaboratively monitoring and facilitating the means (MbM)
- Transcending the project manager’s role from an administrator and controller to a facilitator and sponsor.
- Transcending stakeholders’ role from customers to active participants throughout the process.
- Transcending team members’ roles from commanded and controlled workers into empowered, accountable, self-organizing knowledge and collaboration experts.
In general, projects are executed in different phases (stages) which should be separated by milestones (gates). In order to proceed, milestone delivery criteria have to be met. Therefore and in addition to planning timelines, budget and resource consumptions, controlling activities are conducted by the project management on a regular basis throughout the project. The weakness of this approach resides in the fact that the underlying and leading root causes of performance and value creation are left unmanaged and the knowledge, understanding, and insights of project team members, customers, and suppliers is left unused to a big extend.
Therefore, the Project Monitoring 2.0 solution has been designed to utilize a way to not only making accessible the “wisdom of the crowd” but also making them the active and collaborative force to facilitate the performance management and value creation process. Project Monitoring 2.0 is no substitute for project methodologies; it is a project leadership approach that can be realized in combination with any project management method.
1. Setting up a collaborative monitoring process
- Setting up AS-IS Monitoring
Creating a Six Box Leadership Model questionnaire for all project participants
Defining the monitoring sequence (once a week and by exception/event/incident)
- Provision of TO-BE Reference
Defining a to-be reference standard (empirical findings of the Six Box Leadership Model)
- Conducting the GAP Analysis
Comparison of actual AS-IS vs. target TO-BE condition
- Utilization of GAP Analysis
AS-IS analysis, TO-BE reference, and GAP synthesis: The Six Box Leadership Model serves as the structural blueprint to identify levers which most effectively address the key performance indicators required for configuring a holistic and systemic monitoring solution. Answers provided on basis of a questionnaire delivered via IT software (Excel or web interface) serve as the information to determine the AS-IS situation. In larger or more complex projects, complementary and more extensive Six Box Leadership Assessements should be conducted upfront the project and with any stage/gate transition to solidify the AS-IS information status. The desirable TO-BE condition is described by referencing the empirical findings of Hlupic’s work. By comparing the AS-IS situation with the TO-BE reference, the gaps can be outlined and visualized by using latest collaborative IT tools and technology. AS-IS analysis and gap synthesis are conducted and processed on a weekly and exception/event/incident driven basis to provide real-time feedback and opportunities for counteractions.
2. Changing the roles and responsibilities of managers, team members, and stakeholders
- Changing the roles of project managers from administrators and controllers to facilitators and coaches
- Changing the roles of team members from workers to facilitators and self-organized managers
- Changing the roles of stakeholders from customers to participators
Project managers have to become real project leaders and facilitators, team members have to become empowered team player rather than remaining workers, and stakeholders need to act more like sponsors than behaving like consuming customers. The new role designs are focused on an interactive and self-organizing collaboration process rather than on command and control or demand and complain. After-action controlling has to be complemented with in-action facilitation!
3. Setting up a collaborative platform for communication, information, and knowledge exchange
- Provision of access for any team member, customer, supplier or other stakeholder
- Provision of GAP results by utilizing dashboards or diagrams
Project managers, stakeholders, and team members collaboratively work together to address the actions required to resolve the performance gaps by taking advantage of collaborative social platform technology. All project participants are actively and collaboratively integrated in a self-directed and -controlled improvement process based on interactive decision making, problem solving, and solution development.
The Project Monitoring 2.0 configuration creates confidence in the whole project management process in that all participants are made part of the solution rather than of the problems. This in turn creates opportunities for a collaborative learning experience for all parties involved. A visual overview of the Project Monitoring 2.0 based on the Six Box Leadership Model is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Project Monitoring 2.0 – (Means) Monitoring & Facilitation to complement (Ends) Planning & Controlling
For more information regarding “Functional and Non-functional Requirements of Project Monitoring 2.0,” please refer to the attached supplementary document.
A holistic approach that focuses on the whole and the interactions of its parts might be a much more time and resource efficient approach by at the same time putting the human and social aspects in the center of the monitoring process by identifying and focusing on the building blocks of value creation and high performance – culture, relationships, individuals & strategy, systems, resources.
The Six Box Leadership Model enables a new monitoring approach for project management based on systemic and holistic thinking directly linked with Management 2.0 principles. The proposed solution has a deep impact on what you manage (the means rather than the ends), how you manage (facilitation and dialog rather than command and control), how you monitor (real-time monitoring instead of history reporting), and what you measure (generic drivers of interactions rather than symptoms of degeneration).
Technology usage has a high influence on how we behave. Therefore, new technological solutions are well suited to reinforce these process changes. In addition, you can leverage the social functionality found in Internet-based technology to reduce the complexity of how we interact, communicate, and exchange information and knowledge. Making use of collaborative technology in combination with Project Monitoring 2.0 makes our behaviors more productive, exciting, and pleasant.
For more information regarding “Transcending Management 1.0 Paradigms through Project Monitoring 2.0,” please refer to the supplementary document.
Quick & Dirty Implementation:
Step 1: WHY: Clarify why it is important; start with your sponsor; make a small but related present to everyone involved (e.g. Gary's latest book “What Matters Now”) and let the sponsor write an individual inscription into it!
Step 2: WHAT & HOW: Send everyone a short description about what it is and how it is thought to work; make your expectations explicitly clear.
Step 3: WHAT IS IN FOR YOU: Start with a small Kick-off and emphasize the wins for anyone involved; stakeholders (having a voice, being integrated, respecting your desires, keeping you informed, opportunity to change, learning, ...); management (more transparency, better feeling for progress, etc.); team members (real-time feedback, lower risks of running in wrong directions etc.).
Step 4: SETUP: Setting up the questionnaire and collaborative platform and dashboard (Excel, Intranet, Wiki, SharePoint etc.).
Step 5: ROLES: Prepare sponsors, stakeholders, team members for their new roles and responsibilities but start with the project manager; he is your primary change agent and you need him to create buy-in from the others.
Step 6: FACILITATION: Facilitate the process from the first day on; keep your sensory system alert all the time to understand problems as they arise and to avoid bad-mouthing from the beginning. Take care of opposition soon and offer support where it is required immediately; rely on dialog, be responsive and open – even if you dislike it!
Step 7: LESSONS LEARNED: Make open and honest use of ALL experiences, problems, issues - good and bad - to either improve the solution or to discard it if it didn't work out as expected; test it by letting all participants have an equal vote on it and ask for a go or no-go decision; if no consensus can be achieved, you decide.
Hypothesis: Project performance can be significantly improved by collaborative means monitoring and facilitation compared to retrospective results reporting.
- Changed work behaviors (desirable productive behaviors)
- Higher availability, timeliness, and quality of information (exchange)
- Better decision making (wisdom of the crowd)
- Complexity reduction (self-organization & -control, usage of technology)
- Improved engagement and learning of stakeholders and teams (sharing of vision, objectives, information, knowledge, experiences, success, and recognition)
- Connecting the work behaviors with the planning process (objectives, initiatives, actions)
- Reduction of interest conflicts, micropolitics, errors, brain drain, deadline slips, redundant work, stress, etc.
- Improvement of information and knowledge exchange, productivity, morale and engagement, quality, cross boundary relationships and trust
- On-time, in-budget delivery
- Improved quality (meeting expectations of all stakeholders, meeting requirements and cost targets)
- Higher project profitability (actual costs / planned costs)
- Improved client trust (improved customer satisfaction, image and brand value)
Means Measurement (Monitoring) – a measure for efficiency:
The proposed solution utilizes means monitoring to detect necessities and opportunities to improve the project execution process in real time. For this purpose, the 12 Six Box Leadership Model questions are answered by all project participants once a week or if an unforeseen incident happens. The answers to the questions are are rated by using a 5 point Likert scale (Degree-of-Agreement Rating: 1_very_low, 2_low, 3_medium, 4_strong, 5_very_strong).
Ends Measurement (Controlling) – a measure for effectiveness:
Ends measurement criteria are built upon the Systems Dynamic model of Lyneis and Ford. These measurement criteria are suited to cover unintended consequences (Rework Cycle, Controlling Feedback) as well as Ripple Effects and Knock-on Effects.
- Progress (work done vs. planned)
- Error fraction (rework to do vs. work done)
- Rework discovery time (time until errors are discovered)
- Work load (utilization & work hours)
- Resource consumption (resources needed vs. planned)
- Deadline slippage (prognosed vs. planned delivery)
- Fatigue (perceived levels of stress)
- Communication quality (perceived quality of communication)
- Experience dilution (actual vs. planned years of experience on the project)
- Morale (perceived morale)
- Scope creep (number of change requests)
- Moving targets (number of tasks not accepted)
For more information regarding “Project Management 2.0 Measurement Criteria,” please refer to the supplementary document.
Experimental Subjects: Project monitoring should be part of any project. Therefore, replacing conventional controlling methods does not require a separate project or test case; potentially any project can be made a feasibility study. A step by step approach using the below mentioned signature (starting from small, low, functional) is proposed to gain acceptance and to minimize risks:
- Team size (small, medium, large)
- Cross-functional complexity (number of disciplines, nature of disciplines)
- Hierarchical level (functional, business, executive management)
- Level of business criticality (low, medium, high risks, strategic importance, urgency)
- Financial impact (low, medium, high)
- Budget requirements (low, medium, high)
- Visibility (small, medium, high)
As of the huge variety and history of projects that can be found in most companies and institutions, there is no requirement to run control (group) experiments. In order to generate a solid control reference, former projects have to be selected according to the signature of the test project (experiment) and evaluated by utilizing the above mentioned control criteria. Therefore, the post-experiment comparison with a baseline approach is sufficient to generate meaningful test results.
With IT people being very much inclined to the design, development and testing of technical solutions and by additionally providing the most opportunities for small size projects, an IT project is ideally suited for running the first experiment. Furthermore, a collaborative platform utilizing BI monitoring is a precondition for the experiment (third pass). IT people are comfortable with using such platforms and including mobile devices and technology. Therefore, possible starter problems related to the usage of technology can be minimized and training costs avoided by running the first tests within an IT department.
Test project: Internal small sized IT improvement project (although other types of projects could be also considered)
Day 0 - 30:
- STEP 1: Communicating the idea, selecting participants for the experiment
- STEP 2: The design and development of a collaborative social communication platform (including the questionnaire) by utilizing 5-8 internal IT team members willing to participate and buy-in into the idea.
Advantage: This process makes the team members a part of the solution from the first day on.
Advantage: No formal approval required (internal project, internal budget and responsibility).
- STEP 3: Selection of a small software improvement project with about 30 – 45 days implementation time requiring 5- 8 full time equivalents.
Advantage: No extra effort required to setting up the new monitoring approach as the design team has full knowledge of the process (precondition for designing the platform solution).
Advantage: An improvement project bears the additional opportunity to compare previous project phases with the experimental phase.
- STEP 4: Selection of 3 software improvement control projects (history).
Advantage: The control projects are well known and understood (some team members possibly participated in those projects).
- STEP 5: Evaluation of these 3 software improvement projects according to the above mentioned control criteria (creating the baseline).
Day 31 - 75
- STEP 6: Kick-off and implementation start of the selected improvement project.
Advantage: Internal execution makes it much easier to supervise and control unintended consequences that may arise.
Day 76 - 90
- STEP 7: Internal evaluation of project results according to the above mentioned control criteria.
Advantage: The project manager is familiar with the behaviors, work practices, and performance levels of his/her team members. That, in addition to measurement results, yields a very good feeling regarding the motivation, hidden problems, etc.
Advantage: It is an IT department’s (internal) decision regarding the what, when, and how to communicate success or failure.
 Jack Bergstrand: "Reinvention: Taking Personal Advantage of the Project Failure Problem", CIO Magazine, white paper.
 Wilson, Amy: “Reevaluating Performance Management,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/rawnshah/2011/06/27/reevaluating-performancemanagement/print/, accessed: March 14th, 2012
 Johnson, H. Thomas; Broms, Anders; Senge, Peter M.: "Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary Results through Attention to Work and People," Free Press, First Printing edition 2000
 Ibid: page 161 ff. – see Fig. 1. The rework cycle (adapted from Cooper, 1993); Fig. 2. Controlling feedback loops for achieving a target schedule (deadline); Fig. 3. Policy resistance via ripple effects of rework and controlling feedback to improve schedule performance
 Ibid: page 159 - "Ripple effects" is the name commonly used in projects to describe the primary side effects of well-intentioned project control efforts. Modeling ripple effects in projects captures and leverages the concept of policy resistance.
 Ibid: page 159 - "Knock-on effects" refers to the secondary impacts of project control efforts, i.e., the impacts of ripple effects, often caused by processes that produce excessive or detrimental concurrence or human factors that amplify the negative effects via channels such as morale.
Although this hack was a team effort, a special credit goes to Stefan Blobelt for writing a majority of material for this hack.