Project Search and Rescue

These are my notes and review questions for the Online Course: Project Search and Rescue. The Survival Guide to Identifying and Recovering Lost Projects by Prodevia Learning.

Why Project Search and Rescue?

This course uses the psychological behaviors that occur when an individual is lost, whether they are lost in the wilderness, or lost in a project.

1. Define a lost project.

Initiative that has a lack of strategic direction or that has become stuck in a vicious cycle that keeps it from achieving its objectives

2. Why is recovering lost projects a critical skill set?

Modern competitive environments require that projects stay on track to completion leading to a successful solution. Otherwise, tight budgets and time-to-market delays will undoubtedly lead to failure.

3. Why is it that lost projects can be difficult to find?

Professional project managers and team members may find themselves overly conscious of appearing incompetent to peers or clients

4. What advantage do easily discovered lost projects have that hidden lost projects do not have?

They can take corrective actions immediately

5. How do lost projects create an opportunity cost for the organization?

They drain resources and represent opportunity cost of resources that could have been allocated to other projects.

6. What are some of the factors that can create lost projects?

– company politics
– poorly defined scope or objectives
– not enough planning
– the human factor

Behaviors of Being Lost

1. Define stress and stressors.

stress: as a state of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.
stressor: source of stress

2. Describe the difference between stress and distress.

Distress is a negative type of stress, where too many stressors are in place and individuals are less likely to think clearly and are prone to mistakes.

3. What are some of the common cycles of behavior of lost individuals?

– confusion (spatial disorientation): bending the map, “it should be there”
– fear progression into anxiety: inability to logically think through fear
– sense of urgency: hurrying to find the right place
– panic: wrong assumptions, abandon risk management
– poor decision making: unsound decisions result of panic
– frustration: over lack of results from unsound decisions
– anger: impulsivity
– depression and withdrawal
– fatigue: inability to maintain itself till rescue arrives
– forgetfulness: of past decisions

4. What are the common fears of lost individuals when lost in the wilderness?

– fear of being alone
– fear of darkness
– fear of animals
– fear of suffering
– fear of dying

5. What are some of the common behaviors of survivors?

Survivors make it not necessarily because of a skill set but because of their state of mind. The STOP method and leadership help.

6. Define the STOP method.

Stop: when confusion sets in
Think
Observe
Plan

7. Why is leadership important for lost individuals?

Increases likelihood of survival. It instills a sense of purpose for lost individuals and spurs the group to a common action. It requires the purpose be broken down into simple tasks so that survival can be managed one small step at a time.

8. What is the seven-point checklist suggested for leaders of lost
teams?

  1. A positive mental attitude
  2. First aid
  3. Shelter
  4. Fire
  5. Signaling
  6. Water
  7. Food

Discovering Lost Projects

1. What are the planning elements that a PSAR team must consider before beginning a PSAR Review?

The PSAR team must consider the same elements than other projects: a project, a defined scope, scheduling and communications management plans consideration of the risks, especially political risks.

2. How should a PSAR list of projects be established?

First, check monitoring tools like software. Looking for obvious signs of trouble. These include project variances, more funding requests, missed milestones, revision dates, unmanaged scope creep. A random audit of projects may be attempted.Strategically significant projects must be identified for review. Project significance could be evaluated with the help of leadership.

3. What information should be provided to the project manager before interviewing project participants?

The PM must be provided with the purpose of the review. They must be told that they will have a chance to provide additional input and that their honesty is important.

4. How should each interview with a project participant begin?

It’s important to begin the interview by discussing the objectives of the PSAR review. The PSAR review can be presented as a way to obtain their feedback and discuss their observations.

5. How can a PSAR team most effectively gain the cooperation of a project team in the PSAR review?

Openness, honesty and respect are paramount.

6. What specific elements should be discussed with the project participant regarding the project effort?

Why the project exists, their understanding of project objectives, scope, budget, schedule, risk and progress.

7. Explain why the PSAR interviewer should ask a project participant about his understanding of the strategic implications of the solution provided by the project?

Because confused understanding of the project vision suggests that the project may be lost. However, this is not the only indicator.

8. When discussing the project objective, scope, what should a PSAR interviewer pay particular attention to?

Signs of mean-ends inversion

9. Define means-ends inversion.

Heavier focus on activities than deliverables within the project participant’s reference point.

10. What is the critical difference between project risk and project issues?

Risks are potential problems that have not yet occurred.
Issues are current challenges that must be reacted to.

11. Why is a participant’s negative view of change to a solution less important than his understanding of project impacts created by the change?

Because many focus on how change will interrupt their work. Instead, it’s preferable to ask them about changes impact the project.

12. Why is it important that the PSAR interviewer discuss with the project participant how actual work is reported?

To uncover inconsistencies and check for the participant’s understanding of reporting.

13. Explain what is meant when it is said that a project participant often has an accurate view of the health of the project environment.

Because they have an inside view of the issues at hand.

14. Define what is meant by the influences of the larger organization on a project effort.

Influences out of the project team’s control over the performance of the project.

15. What common behaviors are signals that a project participant may feel lost in a project?

Confusion, Fear, Sense of Urgency, Panic, Poor Decision Making, Frustration, Anger, Depression and Withdrawal, Fatigue, and Forgetfulness

16. What common fears may project participants have that can affect how forthcoming they will be in a PSAR Review?

Fear of isolation, fear of the lack of control over his environment, fear being perceived as weak, fear of damaging career or reputation, fear of losing their
job.

17. Define why a project participant’s anger towards the PSAR Review may not always indicate anger toward the project effort.

Anger could be directed toward the perceived ‘waste’ of time in the PSAR review, etc. More information is needed to understand the origin of the anger.

18. Why is it important to look for consistent themes among interviews with many project participants?

Common themes suggest trends.

19. How should a PSAR interviewer begin the interview with the project manager?

Discuss the PSAR objectives, make the PM aware that feedback is sought and appreciated.

20. How should a PSAR interviewer respond to a project manager when asked for specific feedback from the project participants during his interview?

Tell the PM that a complete final report will be delivered. Avoid discussing specific feedback.

21. Explain the statement that project managers who welcome the PSAR review are demonstrating that they have leadership ability to rescue the project effort.

Because they demonstrate their interest in solutions.

22. Define what is meant by the Dangling Else Syndrome, and why it is important for PSAR interviewers to listen for it?

Unfounded assumptions could suggest that there was no initiative at the beginning of the project that carried out throughout the process and resulted on a lost project.

23. What items of project process will the PSAR interviewer want to make sure are requested from the project manager during the interview?

Project charter review, scope review, schedule review, budget review, risk plan review, issue review, change review.

Evaluating Project Review Results

1. What are the five components of a PSAR Review results?

– interviews
-inconsistencies between the responses of project participants
– inconsistencies between project participant responses and project manager responses
– dissenting opinions of interviewees
– positive findings

2. How should common themes be documented?

From greatest number of inconsistencies to least.

3. When considering dissenting opinions within the findings, what value can this information provide a PSAR team?

They may signal for further investigation

4. What are the three elements of a PSAR Discovery Report?

– executive summary
– assessment including recommendations
– findings.

5. What should be included in the Executive Summary?

4-6 sentence, high-level of what will be covered, and how deep it will be covered

6. According to the scale provided in this course, what should occur if the PSAR team assesses a project effort a score of 3?

PSAR team should recommend further review

7. With whom should a PSAR Discovery Report be shared?

With the project manager, PSAR management and the client sponsor.

8. Why is it important that the project manager see a PSAR Discovery Report first?

To give the PM an opportunity to understand the findings and get ready to address further questions from management.

9. When considering how a PSAR Discovery Report should be shared, what must a PSAR team always consider first?

The most important aspect is the benefit of the project.

10. How should a PSAR team present itself in the face of political pressures when a report is not well-received?

As a team committed to the success of the organization.

Rescuing Lost Projects

1. Why is it important for the PSAR team to have a project plan for the R&R effort?

Because R&R must be treated as a project in its own right.

2. What is a PSAR team’s role in defining and documenting objectives?

Help the project manager and team in creating a project charter with achievable objectives.

3. What is a PSAR team’s role in risk?

Assist in developing risk plans and internal risks reviews.

4. What is a PSAR team’s role in clarifying scope?

The PSAR team should assist the project manager in clarifying scope. This could be helping to define deliverables, implementing change control or helping in communication with the project client.

5. What is a PSAR team’s role in re-estimating time and cost on the project?

They should help determine updated costs considering updated risks.

6. What should a PSAR team assist a project manager in implementing when there is trouble within the project team environment?

A communications management plan and conflict resolution techniques.

7. What is the purpose of the steering committee in the R&R effort?

To serve as a sounding board for troubles and keep projects on track.

8. What is a PSAR team’s role in establishing a steering committee?

PSAR may help advocate why a committee is useful and engage in membership.

9. Who should be the primary driver of information to the steering committee?

Project manager.

10. What two items do a PSAR team and project manager determine for project reviews with the steering committee?

Meeting contents and frequency.

11. How does a PSAR team prevent becoming a ‘negative’ influence on the project and its stakeholders?

By considering the benefit of the project as its most important priority, maintaining rapport with the project team and engaging stakeholders with honesty.

12. What is a suggested method for building trust among project stakeholders during the R&R effort?

Provide positive feedback, recognition of positive results.

How to Recognize if You are Lost

1. What should a project manager do to execute the Stop activity of the STOP Method?

Develop STOP points for project review.

2. What items should a project manager consider in the Think activity of the STOP Method?

Consider issues, challenges, ambiguities and unresolved problems.

3. Why can an objective person be an advantage to the project manager reviewing his project?

They can add an objective perspective to the Project Manager.

4. What should a project manager consider in the Observe activity of the STOP Method?

Observe the project environment, work health of interactions between team, PSAR, stakeholders.

5. What items should the project manager include in the Plan activity of the STOP Method?

Develop a positive mental attitude in the project team, how to address the issues, find ‘shelter’ for the project and team in the organization, build a fire of controls through an adequate project plan, signal for help, and efficiently use resources while also attempting to obtain additional resources that might be of help.

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