Project and Program Turnaround  book cover
1st Edition

Project and Program Turnaround

ISBN 9781138626805
Published December 12, 2016 by Auerbach Publications
312 Pages 62 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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


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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.