I'm writing materials for an upcoming Department of Energy meeting and came across a book on the program I worked as a Program Manager.
From the book jacket: The most contaminated nuclear plant in the country, Rocky Flats was an environmental disaster and the site of rampant worker unrest. Although estimates projected that cleaning up and closing the facility would take seventy years and $36 billion, something stunning happened. The project was completed sixty years ahead of schedule and $30 billion under budget and is now on its way to becoming a wildlife refuge. In Making the Impossible Possible, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine explain how this remarkable feat was achieved--and how breakthrough levels of performance can be achieved by any organization.
After analyzing numerous firsthand accounts and public records, Cameron and Lavine realized that the leaders of the Rocky Flats cleanup took a distinctive "abundance approach" to the task. These leaders focused on identifying and building on sources of strength, resilience, and vitality rather than simply solving problems and overcoming difficulties. The result was extraordinary positive deviance: outcomes far exceeding normal expectations.
For the first time, Cameron and Lavine identify the specific leadership roles and key enablers--levers, techniques, and practices--involved in implementing this innovative approach. This fascinating and thoroughly researched case study concludes by revealing ten leadership principles ultimately responsible for the Rocky Flats turnaround, providing a complete guide for any organization wanting to better understand and apply the lessons of this incredible success.
Working at Rocky Flats was a life changing experience. The single clarity of "done" was with up everyday. The Plan of the Week and eventually the Plan of the Day drove our program management process. Earned Value and Agile were integrated for the first time, and just now coming back into the discussion.
The lessons from that site are simple:
- Define what done looks like in units of measure meaningful to all participants.
- Define units of measure for programmatic and technical progress
- Measure this progress weekly and in the end daily
- Risk adjust every decision with probabilistic distributions developed from past performance and engineering models.
The work there included heavy construction, hazardous materials, and lots of software intensive systems and processes. The principles are indepedent of the domain.