Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grady Booch

If you've never heard of Grady Booch...well, there's a good chance you wouldn't be DeMarco, Yourdon, List and all the other greats - Grady is a Master level, old school, IT genius.....for a more definitive background, check wikipedia (where else would you go):

I just happened to come across his podcast, the reason for this post - a must listen for all you real IT people out there:

Also found on iTunes Podcasts......of course

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time Zones

The risks and complexities of Project Management evolve around communication. How do we effectively communicate needs, updates, feedback, priorities, expectations, etc. A new twist to this, really not that new – but one that I’m currently appreciating more, is the way the world works, specifically time zones. Talking across time zones includes talking across cultures……in addition to being on a call before you wake up talking to someone who’s ready to go home, think of all the common understandings that don’t exist. I recently had a review of some quiz functionality being set up, one of the questions was about vegetables….it took a few minutes to realize the foreign word entered was a local, well known, vegetable. If you can’t both understand what the local potato is, what makes you think you can understand anything more complex? On the positive side, I got a quick intro to some local Indian blue looking, squash looking, potato something that is apparently feeding a good portion of the world’s population.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

‎"A champion is someone who gets up when he can't." - Jack Dempsey

Maybe, just maybe, project managers need to think of themselves as trainers and corner men (women) for the teams we are working with and the projects we are responsible for. There’s a certain rhythm in the preparation, fight-night and post fight that takes place for all professional fighters. There’s also a certain progression of ability for boxers and supporting staff, all based on prior success – success easily being defined in boxing as the last one standing.

Prior to any boxing event there’s around 12 weeks of intense training and preparation – aka boxing camp. The boxer starts ramping to top condition, the trainer and supporting staff get into the boxer’s skin, understanding abilities, gaps, trigger points, specific needs, etc. The training is the true determinate in the boxer’s ability to win, by the time the boxer enters the ring, he is just executing – utilizing his physical and mental conditioning and skill training from the prior 12 weeks. There’s always a chance for a stray/lucky punch from either side – but those are rare, the outcome is determined by the base ability and the recent training. How much training does a project manager and team have prior to a new project? Typically not much and maybe this is the one area that we need to focus on – REALLY focus on. After all, it’s all about the people – projects don’t get themselves done – right? Maybe we need to go through a few weeks of getting to know each other, setting up communication protocols, processes, tools, etc. before the next major project begins. These activities usually occur during the first few weeks of the project, causing strain, confusion and later on-rework. Sounds like a Boxer’s approach to PM is a good buzz sound bite…anyone up to writing a book?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10 Commandments of Project Management

ONE: You shall have no other goals but Business Success

TWO: You shall not make for yourself anything that is already made and working, not process, not group, not support groups, not teams

THREE: You shall not take the name of the Business in vain, you are the Business and need to represent it well to all

FOUR: Remember to rest and relax and enjoy life

FIVE: Honor your family and your boss

SIX: You shall not indiscriminately fire employees or stop work

SEVEN: You shall not steal resources from other groups

EIGHT: You shall not harm other Business units or Partners

NINE: You shall not falsely report either to enhance yourself or take away from others

TEN: You shall not covet another team you shall not covet another teams clients, nor their team members nor their tools, nor their projects, not anything that belongs to another team

Friday, October 22, 2010

In practice there is

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Yogi Berra

If everything being taught about project management was practical and applicable than why are there still so many failed projects? Simple, because there is a difference between theory and practice and that's the one of the major missing lessons. A good project manager adjusts, effectively communicates and always reevaluates. Take your classes, read your books, think your deep thoughts and then bury them inside as you, with an open and honest mind, take in all that is happening around you. PMBOK, Agile, Scrum, Earned Value are all nice buzz words, your real value is being able to apply and adopt that knowledge to improve the situation that you are currently in.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Doing the right thing, right

Everyone is different, but we are mostly the same. I've worked in many companies and on many projects and have always felt 'different' when working with a team and on a project that I felt added to peoples benefit rather that focused solely on profit or getting widgets made. I'm sure there's many of you out there that feel the same way. It's nice making the big money and getting some of the spot light for performing above and beyond, but there is something special about doing the right thing and doing it right. I'm not looking for a pat on the back, but wanted to pat you - yes you – on the back for focusing on those higher goal'd projects...or attempting to. Share a project that you're proud of being part of....mine, currently a Health/Nutrition site......nothing like helping people get healthy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Broken Windows

If you have not heard or recently read the Broken Window theory, I would highly recommend it. Basically, you should not complain about the base behavior you are seeing if it's the behavior that you have communicated, through your own behavior. What you should do is understand what you are witnessing and address the root cause. For example, if you accept misspellings in requirements, don't be surprised if your web site is full of misspelled words (one of my major flaws)........always set the quality standards high, the productivity and cost effectiveness will out weigh the upfront effort put in.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Act as if there is some value to the project...

To take from a much higher meaning message: we need to act as if there is some value to the project and find out that it doesn't than to act as if it doesn't have value and then later find out that it does. Sometimes (to often), project managers are not privy to all the information during the project selection/prioritization process takes place...we need to assume that those that are, are making the correct decisions and based on that, pursue the successful completion of the project as we would another project that we see as having clear value. Easy to say, but often difficult to stay motivated. The focus, in these situations, should be on performing out roles as best as possible, and trusting others...and learning, or trying to learn, there is a lot to learn in becoming a team player.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back to the Bascis

When in doubt, go back to the basics. There have been no major improvements in Project Management since the building of the pyramids....plan, execute and track – fancier charts, nifty tools, amazingly obscure buzz words, but the basics have not changed for thousands of years. So, why do projects fail – the same reasons they always have and always will – not understanding or not following the basics. Focus to much on the tracking tools, assume people understand what they're suppose to do, close your eyes to what reality is and don't communicate effectively to Sr. Management and you're sure to follow the same path thousands of other project managers have followed – failure. Repeat after me:
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Track
Drop and give me 50 pushups now...........