Non-Resistance to Reality
During the previous Casino Night, I presented a statistic that 70% of projects fail. Unless you are particularly charmed by photos of llamas, you could consider last week's blog post a failure.
In a standard corporate environment, this type of outcome would be unacceptable – an analysis would ensue to understand which controls can be applied to better predict the future.
Believing that one can predict the future defies the basic nature of the universe. But we try to do it anyway. And as our predictive models become more complex, we deceive ourselves into thinking they are accurate.
Let’s take a step back. Please indulge in this diagram, adapted from disputed origins:
This is a rough depiction of contemporary project management. It is a mix of both the planning and the actual doing of work by a human.
Planning occurs along the orange prediction paths, flowing from individual to team. Control of worker actions is applied externally, outside of the self, to meet the original prediction. For each task in the project, individuals move along the spheres daily at the bottom to deliver project outcomes.
Shift Sight is a flavor of Teal. There is still an emphasis on planning and prediction, but it is aligned to how reality unfolds before us, one minute at a time:
This image is also a rough depiction. Note that the process at Shift Sight relies on controls internal to the self. There is no one prescribed method of applying control externally or at the team level. Feedback moves backward in the spheres and forward; this is via simulation.
Feedback Loop Goes Where?
Look at the contemporary image again. The feedback loop completely ignores the Thoughts and Feelings bubble. “I am frustrated, but I am smiling on my professional mask” leads to actions such as “disengaged worker” and “sabotage.” Sabotage is not some exotic, over-the-top action; it is subconsciously withholding help from a co-worker because you do not feel heard.
Millions of dollars are invested to understand turnover and worker disengagement. The solution is actually very simple: stop treating people like machines.
Shift Sight considers a project schedule to be living, unfolding as life happens.
We lean heavily on real-time prediction, lightly on extrinsic control, and provide an environment for intrinsic motivation. Motivation is not internal, it is situational. When you can see, in real-time, the team’s prediction and the statistical likelihood of various outcomes (Monte Carlo), this provides a situation for intrinsic motivation. A situation that drives everyone to do better on their own for the greater good. Our project tool in development enables business simulation with full transparency.
Feedback is critical for a successful project. But it must include everything unfolding in front of us: Thoughts, Feelings, Words, Actions, and Outcomes.
Consider Agile, which relies on extrinsic motivation. There is peer pressure. There is a fear of not meeting committed work in each sprint. Agile fixes one ill of a conventional workplace – it makes the workload more visible and attempts to shorten the feedback loop. But it is not real-time. And someone still gets thrown under the bus if life unfolds in a different way than predicted.
To illustrate the project control differences, I offer an analogy of a teenager that is soon-to-be delinquent.
This example does not convey, however, that Shift Sight has predictive capabilities on every captured event that will lead to the late arrival. If it is necessary to control the schedule for a specific product delivery (curfew), every contributing task and dependencies, their projected durations, and a projected probability are visible for all. This enables anyone to identify means to reduce schedule or tighten the projected probabilities. As it happens in real-time, with transparency, there are no surprises.
Broken Human; Do Not Measure
We expend so much energy trying to control our environment. We fail to notice the burden of doing so, as it is impossible to predict the future. But we believe that more data will improve our controls. So we measure the environment around us. We also measure people.
When you measure people, you break them.
Under the predict and control paradigm, data is used to control. Data cannot be applied to Thoughts and Feelings. Data is applied to machines for control. I am having déjà vu. I previously wrote that you are not a machine, no matter how much your boss wants you to be one.
When I write about feelings, I am not describing a delicate situation or high-flying emotions. I am referring to every aspect of every interpersonal dynamic as it collides in a workplace. Most people are unhappy at their job. Those are feelings.
Shift Sight provides an environment to empower the people that work here. Happy, empowered people are the ones that will predict the future. How do I know? They will create it.
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.