December 23rd 2021

How to increase the performance of projects?

A case study for a company in the plant engineering sector

Project work determines the everyday working life of engineers. Most of them have participated in relevant training courses, seminars or lectures on successful project work as part of their education. However, experience shows that the implementation in professional practice often does not work so smoothly. One project partner wanted to change this and commissioned the research area Smart Production & Organization at the Entrepreneurial School® to develop a proposed solution. But how does one proceed concretely with diffuse tasks such as in this case?

After a comprehensive clarification of the task, a status quo analysis with a focus on "highlighting strengths and problems" follows as one of the next steps in the investigation. Due to the complexity and individuality of each company, a qualitative research design using narrative interviews with detailed evaluation based on GABEK® is particularly useful here. GABEK® (Ganzheitliche Bewältigung von Komplexität - Holistic Management of Complexity) is a computer-based method of qualitative research. Based on open interviews or other verbal data, individual opinions and attitudes of many people are networked to create a holistic overview. Similar to mindmaps, these graphs enable an orientation over the entire opinion landscape. The experiential knowledge of the people interviewed can thus be used as potential in an organization. Each step of the analysis is fully documented and thus reconstructable and verifiable. Decisions can be prepared, goals specified and measures proposed.

The study design in the specific case of the plant construction company envisaged interviewing twelve key employees including the site manager in approximately one-hour interviews, whereby the necessary basis of trust can only be created by promising anonymity in the form of a confidentiality agreement. The evaluation of these interviews first required a complete transcription and then processing with the GABEK® method. This procedure is time-consuming and requires a high degree of sensitivity: up to ten hours of evaluation time must be invested per interview in order to transfer the spoken word into clean conceptual networks. This visualization can certainly be compared to an X-ray image of the organization. In the case of our research partner, these conceptual networks were then discussed in a comprehensive workshop among the subjects. Especially the interactive workshop setting and the corresponding moderation are important to achieve a substantial exchange about the key topics and to extract areas relevant for success. Based on this, targeted measures can then be taken that contribute to improved organization and project work.

In the case study described, the MCI contribution was a complete success from the point of view of the site management and the employees. Strengths were recognized, areas for action were identified and a joint commitment to improving project performance was noticeably achieved.


For further information, please get in touch with:

Gerhard Hillmer
Head of Department & Studies
Industrial Engineering & Management
+43 512 2070 – 4110

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© MCI/Kasper.

© MCI/Kasper.