Wednesday, 8 September 2010

What are 30, 60 and 90 day projects?

We all want results as quickly as possible from any project team.  In fact, we want the results now!  Quality improvement projects are by nature a cyclical process where a few steps are taken, then tested, evaluated and then a few more.In complex organisations and systems such as healthcare, the cycles of change can take a long time It can be challenging to keep staff motivated after the initial months of the project.

The concept of the 90 day project comes from research where the aim has been to shorten the cycle of learning from the often 3 or 5 year project horizon. Projects like these accelerate some of the learning, but not all.   In healthcare improvement programs, accelerated timescales can be useful at the start, in the middle or the end of a formal program. At each stage they will have a different focus.

At the start of a project, short timescales can be used to get some momentum going. A 7 day sub-project is an excellent way to focus on commitment and action right up front. Half way through a project a series of say 3 x 30 day projects can be run in parallel with different teams all focusing on the same result. Or they could be run in series.  At the end, a series of rapid projects can help cover all the loose ends and ensure comprehensive results.

So what is a short project?  We know what it isn't:
  • not a replacement for the overall project
  • an easy option; all short projects need planning 
  • not for everyone
If you want to run a short timescale project then consider the following:
  1. for the same topic, different teams will choose different lengths of project. This is because the specific context for change is one of the the biggest factor in the speed of implementing change.
  2. be practical, pragmatic and realistic
  3. focus on the outcome to be delivered rather than traditional project planning
  4. remember this is one technique that may work for some people and may not work for others

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