Sometime back, while working with the Resource Teams in a large Information Technology client, a dispute arose amongst the resource team leaders, around how well the Project Management Office (PMO) was planning project work. work that ultimately had to be executed/delivered by the resource teams. From a "Percent Complete perspective, the PMO were able to show that projects were mostly on time and within budget. However at the Resource Team level, the view held was quite different but not supported with data.
As part of our programme of work, we helped the Resource Team measure their "Planned Percent Complete" (PPC) which is the percentage of work planned to be completed in the "planning window" as against the work that was actually completed. It's a measure more commonly associated with the Last Planner™ project management methodology used in the construction sector.
Now, a "planning window" can sometimes be somewhat of an organisational euphemism. Many service and knowledge-work teams have evolved a belief that "the world is crazy" and unplannable and the only thing they can do is react to whatever turns up on a day to day basis. In that situation, the "planning window" is at best, a day. Such teams start each day in a mindset that Dave Snowden from Cognitive Edge calls the "Confused" or Aporetic (puzzled) domain ( see Cynefin Framework Wiki ).
Teams that have mastered complexity science learn how to parse the outside world into context specific domains such as Clear, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic and find context specific solutions to help them plan and manage. For example, if one task of an IT Resource Team is to "Onboard" 10 new hires, it's unlikely that the first thing the organisation knew about the new hires was the day they started work. Yet many organisations don't share this upstream information (available from HR) to those resource teams further downstream to allow them plan their workload well in advance. However, if one had that conversation with HR they would usually point out that ........ "nobody asked for it".
So there lies the challenge, if you think the world is crazy and all things are unforeseeable, then all things are unforeseeable. If, on the other hand, you view the world as inherently understandable, then you go about finding the leading indicators of the drivers of the activities that ultimately turn up on a Monday morning, apparently out of the blue.
When measured, the Planned Percent Complete (PPC) for a Team can be surprisingly low, partly because it hasn't been measured before and partly because they feel that their job/role is to react to customer demands (internal and external) and so do little effective planning. PPC is good KPI for measuring how well teams in an organisation collaborate in the management of their individual and collective work. In the modern service and knowledge-work organisation, hierarchical management structures and practices need to be augmented with collaborative management methods and practices that are necessary to successfully guide and nudge a complex organisation in the right direction.