Percent Plan Complete is Not a Grade

A concern that sometimes arises in the use of the Last Planner® System is the desire by some people to treat Percent Plan Complete (PPC) as a grade. The allure is obvious. PPC is the first measure employed by the Last Planner and far more prevalent that other recommended measures such as Tasks Made Ready and Tasks Anticipated. People, particularly many in leadership, want to know who they can hold accountable. Individual last planner PPC measurements appear to such people as an accountability tool.

The problem is twofold – at least.

First, if last planners are being true to the principles of the system, they will only commit in their weekly work planning to tasks that can be reliably promised. This means that planned work required to achieve a milestone target will not appear on the weekly work plan if it cannot be completed. Therefore, it is possible to have 100% PPC and still fall behind schedule.

Second, if last planners know that PPC is being used to grade their performance, their human natures may lead them to not commit to all the work they can reasonably expect to complete. They play it safe.

In both cases, opportunities for learning are truncated – learning how to make work ready and learning how to plan more effectively. That’s a problem because PPC is designed as a learning tool, helping people learn to focus on addressing problems that limit productivity.

So if you are in a leadership position seeking an accountability tool, and accept that PPC is not that tool, what are you to do? Buy a mirror. If you are a leader, you are accountable for the growth and development of the people under your charge. You are responsible for coaching them toward addressing problems hindering their planning. Use the information informing PPC and your personal engagement with those people doing the work to coach them forward.

And forget about assigning grades altogether.

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