Facilitating Project Performance Improvement: A Practical Guide to Multi-Level Learning

By Jerry Julian | Go to book overview

8

CONCLUSION

When project organizations do not have effective mechanisms for improvement, learning remains largely informal and incidental. Improvement, innovation, and problem solving are often left to chance. Issues may go unaddressed or avoided, creating surprises, blowups, or “fire drills” that can occur abruptly, triggering a red light on the “traffic light” reporting system for project status. In these situations, project teams are hastily assembled so that senior managers can find out what went wrong, creating an environment that is riven by political infighting, personal threats to jobs and career prospects, “blamestorming,” and avoidance of the “truth” for fear of reprisals by managers or peers. The result is that people at all levels actively avoid reflection, largely because it is perceived as being too threatening, political, ineffective, or all of the above. This creates a selfreinforcing cycle, because when structured reflection is avoided, the result is further opportunities for blowups and surprises.

Multi-level learning breaks this red-light learning cycle by providing organizations with a mechanism for continually improving results at each of the three levels: project, process, and strategy. The three levels of multilevel learning create a synergistic effect that enables teams at each level to build on the learning of the others, including project teams, program management teams, and senior management teams. This ensures that the right projects are selected at the right time, that project managers and teams are pooling their collective knowledge to streamline cross-project processes, and that project teams are continually innovating over the course of their work to improve project outcomes for customers and clients.

The multi-level learning coach facilitates improvement at each level

-169-

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