For years, best practices of project management have touted planning, anticipation of risks, and clear communication as the road to efficiency and success, but a recent study has shown that these tenets may not be as effective as once thought.
In a recent study designed to measure the impact of different types of stressors on productivity during administrative and creative tasks, researchers may be discovering what executives have known for years. The work will get done in the timeline you give it.
Research assistant, Julie Neumar, of the University of Guantanamo Bay, told us what inspired the study. “When we saw the study of the learning benefits of introducing the flight or fight response in laboratory rats, we wanted to see whether or not introducing those same sorts of stressors in humans would have a similar impact on productivity.”
The early results of the study fly in the face of years of established best practice for project management specifically and people management in general. However, since the economic crash of 2007, managers have been looking for ways to do less with more. Neumar said, “The study may offer solutions that have heretofore been rejected as ‘bad management’.”
The study presented teams with the same initial well-defined project requirements and a clear timeline. One group proceeded with the project as planned and completed it on time with quality results. The second group was redirected multiple times, expanded the scope and had their timeline cut in half. The second group completed their project with quality results on time, but delivered on work estimated to require double the resources.
A study leader, who asked to remain anonymous, told us, “When we introduced the new elements of the project and the reduced timeline, we discovered that it was critical that we presented the information in the right way. Typically, we would ‘fire’ a team member that had been performing exceptionally before presenting the change. Almost without exception, this drove the remaining team members to commit time through break periods and deliver on tasks more quickly and effectively than before. This effectively recreated the crash environment.”
“We’re looking forward to finalizing the results,” Neumar told us. “We think that the crash of 2007 has ushered in a new era of productivity that may put this country back on top.”
Happy April Fool’s Day to all our Techwhirlers! The good news is this study does not exist, at least…we think it doesn’t.