Abstract for:Fighting the Physics of Human Nature: Acceleration Mental Model Effects on Project Schedule and Cost Performance

Significant project and program schedule and cost overruns occur too frequently. This paper uses Systems Thinking aided by Simulation (STim) to explore how our typical mental models and mindsets can lead us to accelerate projects to the degree that, paradoxically, the program finishes later and costs more than it would have in the absence of the acceleration. It explains a real-world “quality” feedback loop that our typical mental models often discount or ignore. If this quality loop were more often and deeply embedded within our mental models we would be more cautious when planning to accelerate projects and programs. Computer simulation contrasts anticipated project schedule and cost performance dynamics arising from decisions based on both typical and improved mental models. This project acceleration insight arises from one extreme of the continuum of STim practice. Program management examples illustrate the other end of the continuum. The STim process is described, including how the STim process not only tests policies, but also provides an explicit approach for identifying policies that can improve system performance.