Project and Program Turnaround: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Project and Program Turnaround

1st Edition

By Thomas Pavelko

Auerbach Publications

290 pages | 62 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138626805
pub: 2016-12-12
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The U.S. economy thrives on the development of new products, new systems, and new processes. Usually, these advances start as a flash of inspiration by highly creative individuals. It is complex and difficult to go from initial inspiration to a final product, process, or system. So it is not surprising that approximately one out of every four development programs fails. A development program or project in trouble is distinct from a program encountering typical development difficulties. Such a program or project can appear to be in free fall.

This book identifies the essential fundamentals for executing a program or project turnaround effectively. These fundamentals include:

  • Clearly identifying the next critical accomplishment needed for success
  • Assigning responsibility for each program task to one person
  • Capitalizing on colocation and face-to-face communication
  • Recruiting problem solvers
  • Wining commitment from team members
  • Using team accomplishments to propel high team morale

The guidance provided in this book is applicable to all program or project genres, including manufacturing, nonprofit work, education, medicine, investment management, and municipal management.

Software has become a great part of both providing product functionality and assisting with managing product development. A special chapter devoted to software development dispels common misconceptions and provides guidance for turning around this special type of project or program.

This book is a highly valuable source of insight for a wide range of readers, including management professionals, business students, and executive managers. Every member of a product or project development team will find its recommendations to be of high value.

Table of Contents

Great Program! But What’s Wrong?

Programs Are Like Speedboats

How a Development Program Is Defined in This Book

What Does It Look Like When the Development Team Cannot Do Their Best

Why Did This Happen?

Innocent Leadership Mistakes While Trying to Make It Right

Who Leads the Turnaround?

Who Initiates the Turnaround?

Qualifications Needed to Lead a Turnaround

Where Do You Find the Turnaround Lead?

First Tasks for the Turnaround Work

Customer Involvement When Planning the Turnaround

First! "Point A" and "Point B"

Details of Point B—The Critical First Step!

But What Is the Status of the Program Now (Point A)?

The Customer Must Be Highly Involved

Find the Cavities

What Hampers Getting to Point B?

Change Gears Now

Evaluate Past Deficiencies Quickly

Fill The Cavities First!

Draft the New Organization Immediately

Establish Presence

Establish the New Tempo

Share the New Organization with the Team

Maintain Seamless Momentum and Focus

It’s a Campaign, Not a Program!

Support from Executive Management

Not a Maverick

Probing and Gossip

Schedules versus Diplomacy

High-Value Elements

Face to Face

Virtual Communication with Care


Strict Adherence to the Program Plan

Adherence to Procedure

Each Task Must Have Just One Lead

Well-Structured Meetings

KISS, the Three Levels of Problem Solution

Team Rhythm

Plan to Find and Correct Product Errors Early

Hiring Rules

Good Subcontract Management Guidelines

Metrics—A Crystal Ball

A Little or a Lot


Contract Success

Subcontract Management Organization

Reviewing the Prime Contract and Subcontracts


Laser Focus on Results

The Long Hours

On Call

Personal Sacrifices

Keep Raising the Bar but Have Their Backs

Ethics Are Essential

Regular Ethics Meetings and Distribution of Written Reminders

Equal and Swift Due Process

Leadership by Example

Effective Leadership and Basic Planning

Review and Elaboration

Motivate Continuous Improvement

Share Good Suggestions, Even if They Fail

Recognize New Ideas That Have Improved the Program

Never Punish for an Idea That Does Not Work

Honest Tracking

One Step at a Time

Thank Goodness for Schedulers!

Multiple Books

The Common Fallacy of "Reuse"

Building Component "Chips"

I Thought I Understood Software!

Software Cost Myth

Software Programs That Make Sense

Find the "Bugs" Early

Future Software Jewels

Early Success—"Team Food"

Let the Team Know of Their Progress from the Start

Leaders Highlight the Power of Teamwork

Maintaining Traction

What Is Root Cause?

Accurate Root Cause/Corrective Action Saves Program Cost and Schedule

Root Cause Determination

RC/CA Processes for All Turnaround Program Team Elements

Shackle the Configuration

Examples of Errors with "Test as You Use"

Common Program Configuration Mistakes

Last-Minute Changes

Change of Parts Source

Periodic Quality Metrics

Document and Follow

Turnaround Plan (New Program Plan)

Program Requirements Document

Integrated Schedule

Risk Management Plan

Expenditure Profile Plan

Software Development Plan

What Is Necessary?

Everyone Must Be Paranoid!

Living Risk Management Plan

Team Members

Schedule Reviews

Schedule Reserves

Team Dedication and Mentoring

A Real Open Door

Triggering Strong Dedication

Stand Up for Them When There Is a Special Problem

Seeing in Them What They Don’t See

Benefits for the Enterprise

Encourages a Culture of Achieving Program Commitments

Feel of a Team On Step

Identifies the "Solvers"

Identifies Future Leadership

Helps Prevent Mistakes in Future Programs

Increases Enterprise Morale and Allegiance

Demonstrates High Capability of Enterprise Brand to Business Community


About the Author


Thomas Pavelko

Sunnyvale, California, United States

Learn more about Thomas Pavelko >>

Thomas Pavelko worked for 37 years for Lockheed Aircraft and Lockheed Martin. He started as an engineer organizing and leading teams to develop embedded computer systems that performed critical flight control and data reduction functions. Eventually, he was promoted to the level of Program Director. He reported to a wide variety of divisions, including Satellites, Missiles, R&D, Electronics, Propulsion, Advanced Astronautics, Commercial Space, Human Spaceflight, and the Skunk Works. During the latter part of his career, he was assigned to assist large commercial and government programs in trouble. For some of these, he became the new Program Manager. All the programs he led were successful.

About the Series

Best Practices in Portfolio, Program, and Project Management

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management
COMPUTERS / Information Technology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Engineering (General)