Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WOW! a replacement for the triangle!

On a daily basis I read (scan), and very good sites to stay on top of new things. I also listen to a few podcasts (mostly from being Net@Night.'s a result of trying to stay in touch:

What was a 3-circle description of IA transformed into a honeycomb to represent UX (User Experience - I highly recommend reading the entire article)....FLASH! What about this approach to replacing the OLD PM Triangle?? Internal idea is value surrounded by: quality, time, scope, resources, to rearrange based on risk!!!! So, you can build a model with the users/sponsors of the project focus rearranging the external hexagons based on risk level (the closer in the higher the risk the more required focus....!!!???!!! Need some noodle time to think it through and thanks to Peter Morville for the inspiration (aka someone to steal an idea from)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

LinkedIn does work

I recently posted a question on LinkedIn:

Do you see an impact by big media companies being more involved with the design and overall presentation of web sites?

Is big media having a significant impact on the presentation and design of today's web sites? taking control away from the techies? (more presentation focus, more marketing, less focus on functionality and innovation). How would you like to get involved with a company that understands the new focus and is working towards delivering on the full potential of marketing aspects of web sites?

and I was more then surprised and impressed with the answers (all private, so I won't share)...another indicator that some social sites do work, are effective and provide valuable return on effort (ROE)...........LinkedIn Score 1......FaceBook/MySpace Score 0

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SmartDraw - Great Graphics Product

I was a bit skeptical about SmartDraw, I figured it was another graphics package with some type of library, forced fit into creating Gantt charts and other project management and IT diagrams.....well, it's nice to be wrong sometimes. SmartDraw is a well put together, easy to use graphics package that DOES provide professional looking diagrams of various types, including: project management, mind maps, various software designs, etc. I was pulled into trying various diagrams (even certificates) and realized pretty quickly how the app could help in day-in/day-out graphic design needs of various types (including site maps).......I'm VERY IMPRESSED in it's depth, design and usability. I would highly recommend this as a replacement for both MS Project and Visio.....

You change what you measure....???

Social slowdown hitting Piczo hard........CNet
The Wisdom of the Chaperones........Slate
Power of the Few vs. Wisdom of the Crowd: Wikipedia and the Rise of the Bourgeoisie.....some smart people

We can guess, we can assume, we can quantum physics, there's an idea (I'm going from memory here) that you change what you measure.....

There's a lot of talk about social network usage slowing down, social contribution really controlled by a some cases...banner advertising completely ineffective (most click throughs are by a small fraction of bored people).....could some of the measurement be driving by some preconceived assumptions and influenced by knowledge of what is being measured? The simple answer is yes, of course it is.

I'm not sure of the name (if someone could help), but studies show that even the understanding that someone is measuring your activity has results on it (this is based on lighting changes at factories, where control groups even showed productivity improvements). So, I guess I'm getting to the same old caution that has been around for careful what you communicate and how and what you measure and who communicates...for example:

Example 1:
CEO walks around, asking how people are doing with SYSTM-X, suggestions for improvement and overall positive feedback in how it's impacting productivity....

Example 2:
Some geek some IT sends out an email to let people know that their use of SYSTEM-X is being measured........

Metrics need to be seriously considered for any project and the approach to any metrics, reporting, etc. need to be seriously considered and managed

Friday, February 22, 2008

Microsoft bashing

I finally broke down and brought a copy of MS Office 2007 ( wasn't handling the new MS Office 2007 file formats....blast those .docX files). It took me longer then I'd like to admit to open the stupid packaging.....who the heck designed that thing? Didn't they do any testing on it? Talk about starting off on the wrong foot - next step the install and then the day to day use. Really not looking forward to the upgrade at all. Outside of getting more $ from everyone, what was the main purpose of MS Office 2007? Was this their last big cash intake knowing that they were moving to be 'open source friendly'...??

Monday, February 18, 2008

Should Post Mortems happen at the end of a failed project?

Post Mortems are often referred to as the phase in a project where overall lessons are learned. What worked, what didn't work and what can be improved. But is it effective for failed projects (definition of failed is left up to you)?

In thinking over a quote from a Mr. Albert Einstein We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. I started to think that the process of the post mortem and the people who would manage it are most likely the ones who had (and/or caused) the issues in the would the combination of process/people be effective in performing a post mortem? Most likely not. If you've read Richard Farson's Management of the Absurd - there's a sentence (I can't exactly quote it from memory) - that basically says that only people that realize they can improve will improve and those are the people that are considered in most cases successful.

So, my thinking is, you can't stop people from doing what they think is right (or what they think will cover their butts during reviews), but, to continue with any effort with the same processes and same people during an obvious failed project is a waste and a real 'sit down and think it over' period is required. Spend your time/effort where it counts the most...don't follow process for process sake.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bad Management Causes Lives........

Very few of us are involved in decisions that could cause someone's life...but some of us are. Realize and take into appreciation the impact your decisions could have...what is the worst outcome of a bad decision you're making? lose of a job? lose of a few dollars? Perhaps more? Read this CNN article about how mismanagement caused some of out Marines lives:
  • long term goals getting in the way of necessary short term needs
  • bad communication/follow up
  • decision makers without in depth knowledge (something like PM's without domain knowledge)
  • post impact finger pointing - probably causing more financial impact then erring on the cautious side to begin with (and a person's life can not be measured by dollars so I won't even go there).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Amazon S3 goes south

Seems the Amazon storage solution was out for about 30 minutes today. They offer 99.9% up time....however the outage did impact some major/new startups (like Twitter and SmugMugg).....

Conclusion? Dogs bark, babies cry, technology has issues. Based on the huge potential of cloud computing far outweighs occasional (99.9% is about 8 hours of outage a YEAR) outages - that is, if they are just occasional. You need to balance cost to required up time....99.9% is a lot cheaper up time then 99.999% (five nines). It's a risk like any other risk and needs to be considered in relation to impact (potential is there).


Here's PMBOK! (via

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Interest in Project Management

project management web programming qa web 2.0
(here's the link to the Google Trends page:

Is the trending shown above of searches and news a real indication of interest/knowledge of project management, web programming, QA and Web 2.0?? And if you take into account the overall, substantial, increase in web use......WOW! Maybe a career in PM wasn't the right choice!?!

project management web programming qa web 2.0 php
Here's the same info with PHP search term thrown in for comparison.....php programming?? time to sharpen up the programming skills I guess.

Freedom of Speech in Project Management

Just finished reading an not very interesting article about CNN opening a new site for individuals reporting news: CNN Launches
In reality this is something that has been going on for some time and, I'm guessing, CNN is trying to get in line so they don't miss out completely. What I started to think would be interesting is if PM's provided the same platform for open communication between all related project groups during all phases of the project. What would happen if developers openly communicated issues that could occur? or sponsors communicated their concerns about progress and quality (good or bad)?? users actually had a platform that both sponsors and developers had direct input from (currently happens in many/most open source projects today)?
Would this help or hurt projects? My initial gut reaction is that all communication is good - right? Open honest interaction is what we should strive's the AMERICAN WAY! right? Then I started to get a sinking feeling about how people would react, the various projects I've been on where side comments often cause days/weeks of delivering real information to address misunderstood, opinionated (aka political), incomplete miscommunication. I guess the level of openness needs to directly relate to the level of organizational maturity to be effective. If we fall back to project management by risk, then the ability to effectively (and honestly) communicate is a risk that needs to be addressed up front (or perhaps a few closed doors).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Outsourcing made easy? Years ago at AT&T there was a drive to have all internal IT resources act as consultants and bid and bidded for upcoming assignments....failure...but good idea. I think the failure came because there was no incentive to work on the less interesting/attractive assignments....imagine that the same approach is taken, but includes varying pay rates, so the less attractive assignments could have higher rates making them more interesting...pretty sure oDesk didn't have AT&T in mind...and it was a side track I took, so back to oDesk.

I read about it in TechCrunch and then decided to give it a try...from a resource perspective, easy to get involved and all, time will tell if anyone would be interested in me for $20 per hour. They use various methods of validating resources and companies including rating systems, tests, references, etc. and various communication channels (Skype, email of course, Yahoo messenger, etc.).

So, the questions is: If you had the same level of communication established with internal resources, for an overall lower price point, ability to select top candidates based on open ratings...why not use oDesk??? (or something like it). The internet is surly removing barriers between those that want and those that have - fewer and fewer middle tiers that add costs!

Friday, February 8, 2008

General Colin Powell On Leadership

Something I review often.....and I hate powerpoint..which goes to show it's not always the density of the data, but the depth of the person presenting the information.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Two approaches of presenting information:

Structured Analysis and Design

Moving Averages give structure

Obvious difference in information presentation....(even though the structured analysis brought back some good memories of info long lost). Think about how we can improve our PM communications going forward - talking Gantt charts...!!! (hope not, but better then non-talking ones)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What a PMO should be

work for a large company with a lot of project managers running there a PMO (project management office) also??? do you really see value?

often times PMO's are set up to provide structure to project managers, this is very common in matrix organizations where everyone needs to be grouped together - you can't have mixing of roles, that might cause some open communication or successful projects....

To provide strategic value, PMO should be (in my opinion):
  • a change agent for all business processes - no matter how much you code or add tasks to MS Project - unless directly addressed, bad business process will remain
  • base to provide an objective view of project goals, expected and realize value - remove the politics from projects
  • overseer in the development of a core, stable, effective IT group...start with getting the best people, help with effective processes, ensure communication is open and safe
  • driver to put proactive measures in place - start off right and chances are you'll end up right
  • key in driving learning from all projects, learn what worked and didn't work and improve
So, if your PMO is running projects, printing excel reports or only provide monthly 'best practices' reports (based on web searches), it's time to change.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sun Tzu

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu

It's hard to add to that one.

(from Wikipedia)
A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal...

A tactic is a conceptual action used by a military unit of no larger than a division to implement a specific mission and achieve a specific objective...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Atlantic System Guild: Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior

One word of advice, anything from DeMarco to Lister you must book on project management patterns...looks like some good spring time reading. Here's a link to the Atlantic System Guild site with a pdf preview: