My wife and I recently completed a motorcycle safety class. There’s an interesting point they make over and over in the class: you should look where you want to go, not where you are. For example, look farther down the road to see what’s going to happen, instead of looking at the things at your feet that you don’t have time to change. If you’re making a turn, look into the turn, where you’re going; rather than straight ahead, where you don’t want to go. Looking towards your objectives makes riding easier and cuts down on accidents.
With critical chain scheduling, there are several ways that we look where we’re going. Of course, as we use schedules we look ahead, evaluating the impact of the current status on the buffers and (hence) the endpoints. We keep our sights on the overall project or portfolio.
We assign “touch” times for tasks, even if today there is a lot of multitasking. We plan in a way that sets expectations for future behaviors, making multitasking more difficult and more visible.
We also build a team sense of responsibility through shared planning and shared protection time. Yuji Kishira, in his book Wa, equates protection time with responsibility. If I feel responsible for completing my tasks on time, I will add protection time or “buffer” to my task time estimates. When we attach the buffer time to projects rather than to tasks, we create a shared sense of responsibility for completing the overall project on time. We develop a culture of “how can we help” rather than “who’s going to be late” or “who’s in the hot seat now.” We look ahead to how we want to act.
It seems as though any planning is looking towards where we’re going, but that’s not completely true. Suppose, for example, that your plan is a series of milestones. You have to emphasize the next milestone – the one nearest your feet – because it’s the most urgent, and you’re planning with the assumption that each milestone must be on time. Unfortunately, that takes the emphasis away from the bigger picture and the shared behavior changes that need to be in place if you want to improve speed, predictability, or productivity. It means you’re more likely to wipe out on the turns.
- On September 8, 2010