Good Stress and Speed-to-Market

by Michael Dalton

Stressed New Product Development

If you happened to run into this WSJ article you might be wondering what it has to do with new product innovation and speed-to-market for new products.

Clearly getting the right degree of stress is a challenge that organizations struggle to balance – whether in new product development or almost any activity.  The rampant multitasking we see in most companies is all the evidence we need.

But Critical Chain Project Management offers several tools that help motivate team to higher levels of performance without burning out your team:

Tool 1 –  CCPM identifies the critical chain for each project – the series of tasks where any time saved will shorten the project duration and where any time wasted will lengthen it.  The critical chain creates good stress because it tells you where to focus (active tasks on the CC)  and what you can ignore (for now).  It also provides some protection from bad stress, because the organization knows not to interrupt work that is on the critical chain.

Tool 2 – The due date of every project is protected with a buffer, and as that buffer is used up it provides a visual signal (Fever Chart) showing progress on the critical chain vs. evaporation of the buffer.

Critical Chain Buffer Chart Courtesy of Expepron

The buffer is a burning platform of sorts and the team has to get all of the tasks off the platform before the buffer disappears. Otherwise they miss the project due date to which they have committed.

A stressful way to look at it?

Maybe. But it’s a good stress because you want the team to do whatever it can to finish before the buffer is used up. And as long as they aren’t constantly interrupted (see Tool 1) or pulled onto other work, the team will feel in control of their own destiny and remain highly motivated to make that deadline.

 

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