Engage System™

"​Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try to bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have mental models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience, both vicarious and direct, on this latticework of models." -- Charlie Munger

Optimally solving a problem requires a deep understanding of the System in which one is operating. This is achieved by engaging in the System.

"A System is any group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent parts that form a complex and unified whole that has a specific purpose."

Daniel Kim

Critical aspects of engagement include:

  • To realize optimal ROI, continuous engagement between business, capability, IT, and relevant external organizations before, during, and after projects is necessary.
  • Successful capability and project teams navigate and influence the System they operate within.
  • Influence the System by acting on feedback, managing risks, issues, and decisions (RID), responding ASAP to warning signs, communicating clearly and often, verifying and validating, and constantly realizing reality.

Engage the System Constantly

Influence the System

Projects continue to fail because we insistently examine and identify root causes internal to projects, not external. We also continue to cling to thinking, organizations, behaviors, and actions that no longer work.

Capability teams represent a new organizational role that constantly monitors, filters, understands, and extracts meaningful System knowledge that increases the performance and value of project/business operation outcomes.

Understand and influence the Systems your project and capability are operating within to increase business performance and value.

  • Solving the dilemma of failed projects requires looking outside a project to the broader universe or System it operates within.
  • It requires that malfunctioning, misbehaving, and sub-optimal Systems be influenced or changed to eliminate project failure.
  • Or, at a minimum, a project approach is formulated to recognize and minimize the impact of misbehaving Systems.

How do you influence your System?

  • Influence requires courage
  • Nurture people and team relationships
  • Educate people and teams
  • Promote personal traits such as curiosity, cooperation, courage, and transparency
  • Engage in understanding
  • Mitigate institutional imperatives
  • Adapt to inflexible Systems when they can't be changed or influenced and mitigate risks to the extent possible
  • Maintain a failure recovery plan

How's My IT?

Act on Feedback

Manage Transitions

Manage Risks, Issues, and Decisions

Act ASAP to Warning Signs

Communicate Clearly and Often

Realize Reality

Measure Performance

Measuring project performance can be challenging. During status meetings and discussions with team members and constituents, you hear all the positive reports.

But how is your project really doing? Should you be feeling comfortable about its progress?

Typically, there are five approaches you can use to get your arms around actual performance:

  • Use Earned Value (EV) methods to quantify your project's performance. However, exercise caution when using EV methods.
  • Assess deliverable quality and completeness. Do they synch with the reported earned value?
  • Use past project performance as a predictor of future performance.
  • Conduct an independent and objective assessment of your project.
  • Arrive at your conclusion based on what you're seeing and hearing.