People. Promises. Project Execution.

Managing a project can be like riding a roller coaster. While you might know what you’re in for at the start, there’s bound to be a never-ending series of surprises and bumps along the way. On a roller coaster, however, you have high confidence that everything will be OK in the end. For a troubled or failing project, the future is less certain.

3Px is an approach to managing a project that’s based on years of lean consulting experience on every type of project. From straightforward commercial buildings, to airports, microchip plants, hospitals, civil projects, residential complexes, and some of the largest mega-projects in the world, LeanProject has helped projects succeed for over twenty years. This experience has taught us that managing complex teams takes more than lean planning and scheduling. It takes the orchestrated efforts of dozens of people, working together toward a common purpose. It takes trust, teamwork, experience, and collaboration at a level that most projects are unable to achieve. 3Px is a way to consistently create high-performing teams quickly, by fostering the team structure, practices, and skills needed to make it happen. The elements of 3Px are shown in the image below.

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This intersection of the right team structure, practices and skills makes possible a new level of performance that most projects can’t imagine. In addition, creating the right culture around the team, one built on trust, transparency, and a mood of possibility, opens the door to even greater breakthroughs.

We know that no project is perfect, but using the 3Px approach gives teams the right tools, and the right thinking to perform at a high level every time, and to consistently, deliberately create an environment of continuous improvement and new possibilities. The results speak for themselves: shorter schedules, improved safety, lower cost, higher productivity, fewer quality problems, better collaboration, and most importantly, happier people. Everytime we apply these concepts to a project, there is quickly a new sense of control, calm, and stability in the project team; from front-line workers to top management. The possibility of a better work experience and better outcomes becomes real, and the mood of the team shifts. It’s a remarkable transformation that yields bottom-line results. Another step closer to the perfect project.

High-Performing Teams on Every Project

The right project organization drives  responsibility as close to the work as possible while allowing leaders to set the strategy for the project and understand the big picture. The 3Px approach uses a Project Core Team, much like that on an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) project. The Core Team sets the project milestones and objectives and gets commitments from Project Execution Teams (PETs) to deliver. The two-way conversation includes a negotiation around the Conditions of Satisfaction for each objective, and ends with the PET making a commitment to specific deliverables and timeline. From there, each PET has regular weekly check-ins with the Core Team to provide updates on progress, and make requests for help. The Core Team provides oversight for the PETs while acting as a resource for influencing project elements beyond the control of an individual PET.

On larger projects, the Core Team is accountable to the Senior Leadership Team SLT) in the same way. The SLT is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the project, but provides the vision for the project while keeping tabs on the project thought the Core Team. Only when the Core Team cannot reach a unanimous decision on an issue does it flow up to the SLT.

Note that PET’s may be formed for a specific, temporary purpose on the project. For instance, you may form a PET to resolve a consistent pesky problem, like turnaround time of RFIs, or helping the team make key decisions in time, or instilling new practices into the team. In this case, the PET still makes commitments to and remains accountable to the Core Team.

To be effective, the project team must adopt a set of standard practices – their playbook for the project. While these practices are developed specifically to meet the needs of each project, there are several that we typically see on most projects.

  • Last Planner(R) System
  • Pull Planning
  • Weekly Work Plans
  • Daily Huddles
  • Plus/Delta
  • A3 Reporting 
  • Big Room 
  • Choosing by Advantage Decision-making (CBA)
  • Constraint Removal and Management
  • Visual Management
  • Standard Meeting Practices

Individual team members at all levels need a skillset matched to the needs of the project. With proper training and coaching, some of these skills can be developed quickly, while others evolve over time. Key skills for project leaders include the following:

  • Effectively facilitation meetings
  • Making secure requests and securing reliable promises
  • Cultivate and expansive mood in your team
  • Uncovering and addressing breakdowns in workflow
  • Building trust
  • Navigating changing and unpredictable conditions
  • Recognizing your own mood and learning to shift it
  • Learn how to make responsible assessments that open new possibilities
  • Conversations for creating action and possibility

Every project lives within an environment that, to a large degree, determines what is possible. While the right culture or mood on a project does not guarantee success, restrictive moods always result in unsuccessful project outcomes. As part of the 3Px approach, we help project leaders and participants develop an awareness of project culture, and learn to develop a mood of ambition, exploration, and trust while navigating the uncertainties that are sure to come along. Get this right, and the team can develop a culture that acts like a superpower, making the toughest challenges less difficult, and the greatest goals more achievable.

Lean Project Management Saint Paul
Lean Project Management Saint Paul

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