Even with proper planning in product development, keeping projects on track is a challenge because project workers have private information about the real progress, which they do not always want to share.
Cooperation and ‘psychological safety’ as important as planning, says article co-authored by Cambridge Judge director.
Promoting cooperative behaviour and creating “psychological safety” for workers can be just as important in keeping projects on schedule as are formal planning and control methods, according to an article co-authored by Cambridge Judge Director Christoph Loch published in MIT Sloan Management Review.
“Behavioural issues are as important in project timeliness as diligent planning,” the paper says. These behavioral issues include willingness to communicate in times of uncertainty, on-time incentives, and a natural propensity to “pad” estimates of time to complete a task in order to create “individual buffers.”
The article examines these issues by looking at Roto Frank, a German company involved in window and door construction. The company successfully improved project cycle time by establishing a formal help process that encouraged cooperative behavior and established psychological safety for staff.
“Because of its flexibility, we argue that this help process has the potential to accelerate projects in many environments,” the article says.
The article, “Accelerating projects by encouraging help”, is published in the Spring 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. It is co-authored by Loch, Fabian Sting of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and Dirk Stempfhuber, head of engineering at Roto Frank.