The importance of a shared understanding in project teams

It is through simulation based training (SBT) in Project Management that I can work with project teams to get  a shared understanding of the problem or opportunity to be addressed. This allows a training facilitator to have a multi-functional team apply the so needed concurrent engineering when working on highly competitive environments in order to provide a faster response to market needs with a clear understanding of the value proposition (metrics) the customer/user is looking for.

Research done by Sloan [1] shows that in competitive markets teams achieve faster, more innovative and better results (ROI, market share) than UNDER non competitive markets (blue ocean).

In a SBT environment, teams start working early on the project defining 2 important things:

a. the problem to be addressed – here it is important that trainers develop the ability to work with one of many versions of the design thinking process. It is not just a matter of sitting and working on a solution if the team does not get to understand the need or problem being addressed and to do that there is no better way than working with the user. Getting to identify the right problem makes things clear and sets up the team to address possible solutions.

b. the best solution given the market conditions – it is here that the team needs to define      what is the best fit strategy to address the problem and come up with alternative solutions ranging from reengineering of an existing product in order to compete better in an existing market, to breakthrough thinking and the development of a new product using new technologies that satisfy the needs and expectations of customers in new markets.

Once again a clear identification of project constraints (technological, cost, schedule and value to the user) reduces the number of feasible alternatives. A decision on the best project plan, among all the feasible project plans, is based on management strategy that takes into account the level of competition along with the uncertainty in the technology, market, and environment.

As a facilitator, I have used a variety of teaching methods (case studies, or problem centered approach or simply lectures with complementary dynamics, it is though a scientifically based simulation tool like the Project Team Builder simulation software for Project Management that I have come to realice the importance of hands on training in a controlled environment that not only addresses the technical parts of the project (quality, cost, time, lean PM, stochastic durations, cash flow restrictions to mention few features) but a solid team formation and the needed shared understanding of the problem by a multi-functional teams on the early stages of a project.

Keep pushing it!

[1] D. Sloan, A. Shtub, The Influence of Competition on New Product Development Project Planning Decisions, IEEE Transactions and Engineering 0018-9391 © 2019

Sugested lecture

N. Balouka, I, Cohen, A. Shtub, Extending the Multimode Resource-Constrained Project Scheduling Problem by Including Value Considerations, IEEE Transactions and Engineering 0018-9391© 2015

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