Wednesday, 19 June 2013 07:25

Survey Data Coincides with Towering Project Results

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Over the past couple of years, there have been several running global surveys based on determining the ideal factors that affect product team performance. The results from these surveys seem to indicate that,
In addition, preliminary results from the some of the soon to be released 2013 Product Team Survey’s are indicating that:
  • Teams are focusing too much on internal development and not enough on product launch and commercialization activities.
  • Over 38% are indicating that their team effectiveness is hampered by poorly defined roles and lack of clear handoffs between team members.
In thinking about this data, it made me reflect a bit and ask the questions “what does a well performing team look like? What types of results are possible with this high performing team?” By asking these questions, I was trying to get a bit more tactical at figuring out how I could use the data to influence the teams I currently work with, in order to achieve better results. So, I did a bit of research and came across a case study that I thought exemplified many of the aspects / results of the survey. Before I tell you the product this team created, let me tell you a bit about the characteristics of the project and the team.
  • The cross-functional team was quite large with a number of different stakeholders. The team therefore, put together a set of common, non-negotiable objectives to drive the project.
  • The initial vision of the product was clear, but the team knew that flexibility in planning and execution would be required. Market and economic viability would require continual adjustment and readjustment to plans and trends difficult to anticipate.
  • Mixed use planning and programming was utilized. In this case, we are talking about creating different programs on top of one another for different uses and different demands. Each of the different programs would be components of the overall end product.
  • The team planned to deliver in phases / stages, in advance of completing the entire product.
  • This phasing was a requirement and non-negotiable to the overall success criteria of the project. Each of the 5 stages / phases was designed so that each phase operated like a complete, self-sustaining, fully code-compliant revenue generating piece, within the greater framework of the overall product. This allowed the product to start generating money almost two full years prior to its final completion
  • The project planning didn’t follow a pre-canned methodology. But rather took the approach of tailoring the project based on the needs of each organization involved and the common objectives and success criteria driving the project.
  • The team utilized peer reviews and structural testing to reaffirm the integrity of the overall product.
  • The design utilized cost savings techniques, as well as, integrating design with engineering expertise.
  • Technology components were chosen carefully based on the requirements of the overall project. This enabled a design that was both cost effective and truly innovative. The team didn’t follow the rules. They went against the grain and did what made sense based on sound engineering practices and data. Build it once and do it right the first time.
  • Size of the project combined with immovable deadlines for revenue generation required a fast-track construction schedule.
  • Took 4 yrs from start to finish.
  • The stakeholders of this large-scale initiative gave credit to the team’s expertise in advanced planning, project management, and scheduling.

So, clearly the case study describing this great project feat seemed to be consistent with the results and analysis of the survey. So what was this amazing product? Perhaps the first iPhone or PC? Well, not even close.

The case study was based on Trump International Hotel and Tower. The tallest residential and largest concrete, building in the United States. It is also the tallest building project in North American since the completion of the Sears Tower in 1974, and one of the largest buildings to be partially open to the public while under construction.

Initially envisioned a 150-story structure that would eclipse the height of the Sears Tower, but revised after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when developers began to re-evaluate the perceived benefits, public perception, and marketability of super tall buildings. The final product was 92-story tower that would combine luxury condominiums with a world-class hotel.
Starke June19 IMO01
The team delivering Trump Tower was truly a high performing project team. With survey results like the ones mentioned above, we can now quantify what high performing means and, furthermore, predict the types of results when utilizing each of these factors of success. I look forward to the next Whitepaper and future survey results in the industry to help us practitioners change the game!

More information about this case study can be found here Case Study: Trump Tower. For more information about hybrid approaches to product development please check out my recent blog post on Amazon.com.

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The Study of Product Team Performance, 2012
Market Snapshot Report on Agile Realities, Voke Study, 2012.

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Steven Starke

Steven Starke is the author of S.T.O.P. – The Project Management Survival Plan. He is currently the founder of Starke Consulting and VP of  Actuation Consulting where he is focused on developing training material for product team collaboration and advancing the profession of product development.

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