Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peak Performance

What is peak performance? and why does it matter in IT/project management? If you do a google search, most of the results have to do with gyms, clothing lines and sports stores...(so much for Google remaining relevant). Peak performance in Wiki is about a ski company in Sweden...well, here's my understanding. Peak performance is: the highest possible, positive output obtained in a specified field by a planned approach in specific time frame. My, very amateur, understanding is that a well trained athlete reaches peak every 10-12 weeks of an extensive training course (2-3 months prep time prior to a boxing match, 2-3 months prep time prior to a bicycle race, etc.). So, what does this have to do with IT and project management? This goes back to what makes projects successful - understanding the most critical component - people. Plan all you want, buy all the fancy, top of the line hardware/software, hire the best consultants, stuff the kitchens with bagels and pizza - but without the most critical component - PEOPLE - nothing much/good happens. And if this is the most critical ingredient, we also need to understand how to get the best performance from them (aka people). The good ol'e Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing plays right into peak performance - there has to be a specific 'peak performance' cycle that needs to be considered for projects. If peak performance does play into a project's ability to succeed - which I'm more then sure it does - then instead of 'bending' people/peak-performance-period to fit the project deliverables and time-line MAYBE just maybe, we need to ensure that the project timeline fits into the teams peak performance timeline. For instance - let's stay with the 10-12 weeks and the Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing idea, then a typical project or phase of a project should not extend this period of time....perhaps this is where Agile approaches (sprints) get their biggest benefit from...10-12 weeks of work (peaking out) - 2 weeks of downtime - and back again...
If those 'dumb athletes' understand this - why don't we? There's a lot to understand (here's a good/okay article: http://rhinofitness.ca/articles/article_periodization.html via Rhino fitness - also where the graph is from). Next steps? someone like a Capers Jones - needs to do some serious research..but gut feel is that this is another area of required understanding for project managers.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

what ?!?!? - is this a real explanation?

Amazon Explains The S3 Outage and Downtime Last Weekend - http://www.centernetworks.com/amazon-s3-downtime-outage
Sounds like jibber-jabber to me......now I have better insight into why I get certain looks in meetings

Friday, July 25, 2008

Microsoft + Yahoo + Google + Apple = my 2 cents

Not being a great business person, or ever having run a large corporation, or really understanding (caring) about corporate politics or knowing how the stock market really values companies - makes me the perfect person to provide an opinion on the Microsoft/Yahoo/Google happenings.......

First off - my views on each company (perhaps I'll get a job offer from this):
  • With all the negative press about Microsoft - I still credit them with providing a stable, widely accepted operating system that made PC's usability by the masses (300 million people can't be completely wrong). Bill Gates is a business genius and a real techie....
  • Yahoo - is the starting point for me - I use Yahoo mail for years and have been very happy. Their ability to combine content and services is outstanding (one of the few to survive from the ole' days)
  • Google - well, they're Google - something like 90% of all searches start there - people easily associate the Internet with Google....and making Billions of $ from providing searches to other people's websites is pretty incredible....
  • Apple - highly innovative, usability focused (most of the time), the current hip standard (7% of the market now...??)
(now checking email for job offers)
Here's my 2 cents:
  • at the end of the day all will disappear and new mega-companies will emerge.
  • any corporate/directional decisions made will have minimal impact to me.
  • the open market where consumers decide, based on at least a 100 variables (chaos theory), will determine what happens and the decisions made by the big corporate honchos will never be able to be based on any predictable model that can determine that
In other words: Who Cares, where's my pay-day and lets see what's coming around the technology corner

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

applying markup language to emails

(tried to use <, but needed to change to [ for the sgml to show up)
[rhetorical-question]
Would email communication improve if there was some form of applying a markup language variant (SGML) that is set by the sender, but uniquely interpreted by the receiver?
[/rhetorical-question]

[statement]
Out current high level use of email to communicate has in many way negatively impacted real communication. The ability to non-verbally communicate (outside of some useless/silly varying happy face icons) is completely removed. The subtle wink, smile, change in tone, etc. are completely removed. This leaves interpretation open and up to the receiver (often predisposed) to determine and introduce their own cues.
[/statement]

[rhetorical-question]
Solution? Video? Audio? [sarcasm]Happy Faces?[/sarcasm]
[/rhetorical-question]

[statement]
What if there were some base (10-12) tags that could be inserted by the sender and uniquely interpreted by the received - even to the degree where the receiver can vary based on who the sender is [example](gee..Sue is always a kidder...raise the sarcasm indicator for anything from her...)[/example].
[/statement]

[statement]
The key to this is how the receiver implements his tags...allowing [question] tags to be italic and red, [sarcasm] tags to be blue [sarcasm](or ignored if one does not understand sarcasm)[/sarcasm], etc.
[/statement]

[question]
Anyone with a million $ to invest?
[/question]

Monday, July 21, 2008

To Gantt or not to Gantt

In developing a project management package - there comes a time to decide if you're going to include a gantt chart......it's tempting to put it in so as to get, potentially, more people to download and use the tool (aka ego boosting)...reviewing the Ed Tufte discussion on gantt charts kept me honest - NO! no gantt charts. The tool (which I think at best should help communicate within the team and not replace any real project management responsibilities, remove any level of communication, etc.) will include a list of deliverables and timeline to each step in providing that deliverable...but no gantt chart. Tools and processes enhances a solid mature team - that's it. Tools/process DO NOT:
  • make up for poor management
  • improve people's abilities (other people do that most effectively through one-on-one training/mentoring)
  • remove the need for a solid manager
  • reduce major risks
  • ensure timelines, quality, etc.
  • make people communicate better
Tools enhance - that's it! Gantt charts, project management triangles, excess reports, heavy documentation, restricting processes, overcomplicated tools are the signs of poorly implemented leadership/management ideas.

William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end


(image from alternative film guide)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

IT Project Guide - Risk Management


Houston - we have lift off!
The alpha version of IT Project Guide - Risk Management is now available for demo:
http://itprojectguide.org/PMBase/risk/home
and code available for your use at:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/itpgrm/

Please remember to:
  • install CodeIgniter php framework (codeigniter.com)
  • modify the database.php and config.php files located at /system/application/config folder - modify the base url and database
This is a 'rewrite' of the IT Project Guide - Project Management system (that was based on dotProject and web2Project) - this new version is brandy new code based on CodeIgniter and jQuery frameworks.....

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Hero - Tom DeMarco


Project Management is not about technology it's about people.......

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A long night.......

Sometimes you just need to dig in and get your hands dirty to really understand what you're dealing with. I spent a LONG LONG night last night understanding:
CodeIgniter MVC and jQuery (including ajax-forms and simpleTree)

Here's the end result: IT Project Guide-Risk Management

You'll probably not notice much (and potentially nothing if I'm working on it and break something) - but behind the scenes there's a lot of MVC, ajax and CSS (no tables) going on. I think I gave myself a master's training course in heavy duty coding. Some take aways:
  • MVC does force you to be a better programmer, even during the initial investigative/hacking phases
  • CodeIgniter is solid...and has a great forum and support community (a big plus)
  • javascript is javascript no matter how you dress it up - jQuery will make you life better, but the underlying javascript will remain problematic and buggy to work with
  • well planned css does make development and design changes much easier (do away with those tables)
  • not everything works as planned (lots of problems refreshing the tree menu) - but there aways seems to be a way to get what you want done (even if it involves some serious banging of the head against the wall)
  • small changes with instant results is gratifying (aka good programming) as opposed to some tasks in project management (aka waiting by the phone for a developer to let you know when the system will be fixed)
Anyway - it was a long long very good night....next steps: potentially moving from the IT Project Guide - PM (project management) tool to IT Project Guide - RM (risk management) - basically a complete rewrite

Monday, July 7, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Great Advice from the trenches

The proof is in the pudding - OR - you're successful endeavor should reveal what steps should be taken for the next success (info directly from:http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/03/how-to-build-a-web-app-in-four-days-for-10000-say-hello-to-matt/):
Tips on working wisely
Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind if you’re focusing on building apps quickly:

1. Limit meetings to one 10 minute chat in the morning and one 10 minute wrap-up at the end of each day. Meetings are the best way to kill productivity and crush creativity so keep ‘em short.

2. Get people away from their machines at lunch. Go for lunch together and maybe throw the frisbee or play Wii. The excitement and creativity will quickly deteriorate if you don’t have a break during the day.

3. Simplify the site and app as much as possible. Try launching with just ‘Home’, ‘Help’ and ‘About’.


I highly recommend reading the rest of the post...if understood, it'll save you from years of reading many project management books

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CodeIgniter Book

I've been 'focusing' on the CodeIgniter PHP framework - possibly looking to rewrite the IT Project Guide - PM tool with it. So, as usual I Google around for info and buy books (Amazon of course). It always seems easier reading and experimenting from a book then from a webpage (must be the age I grew up in- like working with a $10 chemistry set making some skunky smelling smoking thing). The only book currently out for CodeIgniter is 'Code Igniter for Rapid Development'. Overall a good book, some great insight into CodeIgniter and some interesting background on the author of CodeIgniter: Derek Allard. The major downside to the book is that it's a little choppy in delivery and does not (at least more then half-way through) provide complete examples....but, a good source

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Workout time

I'm into exercising a bit...and ran across Men's Health Belly Off program. Good work out (aka lots of pain and agony) and well done sub-site. Video, meal plans, more video, podcast and print outs...nicely done overall approach and GREAT content. It's summer time - drop those keyboards and get a movin'!