Non-Utilitarian Metrics

My new post at AITS was published this morning. After my usual wise-ass opening, I provide three examples of poor project management metrics and how they were presented, and conclude with a few summary principles for collecting actionable data and presenting it clearly. I’m pretty sure I can squeeze out a few more articles like this, but it would be great to have some input from other project managers and portfolio managers. Leave a comment here or at AITS, and share a story I can repeat. With attribution, of course.


Special Mention: Nick Pisano’s Post at AITS

Nick PisanoI normally include references to articles and blog posts in my weekly round-up, but in this case, I wanted to go into more depth than my usual one or two sentences. Nick Pisano’s article at AITS this week looks like the capstone of his argument that IT project failure is less about unknown and unknowable risks than about poor management processes. His analysis runs from Black Swans to Babe Ruth, and from studies by Rand and McKinsey to his previous posts on the physics and economics of software development.

Nick concludes with nine very specific principles that should be the basis of every software development project selection and execution process. His underlying theme: improving the success rate of software projects lies not in the cryptozoology of unforeseeable events, but in the application of modern management techniques and evidence-based decision making. Projects should not be begun without clear objectives and success metrics, and they should be terminated when evidence of impending failure is identified.

It’s a long read, but well worth your time. Great job, Nick.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 20 – 26

Ballon PassingNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 20 – 26. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Our theme this week is Agile software development. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Johanna Rothman shares a few tips for product owners faced with ranking features in a backlog. This needs to be a checklist!
  • Neil Killick shares a twelve-point decision tree (which only looks like a questionnaire) that will help you determine whether your team is actually developing software using Agile methods. And no, it’s not a twelve-step program – just a coincidence.
  • Aaron Smith interviews Thomas Wise, co-author of the new book, “Agile Readiness: Four Spheres of Lean and Agile Transformation.”

PM Best Practices

  • Elizabeth Harrin: “The biggest challenge facing project management today is that project-related work and jobs are growing too quickly for our approaches to professionalism to keep up.”
  • Adam Shostak points us toward a good, long read at CIO on real lessons learned from the dubious rollout of
  • John Goodpasture quotes John LeCarre (for the second time in a week) on the need for facts to have a credible source.
  • Kailash Awati continues his series introducing us to R, the open source statistical analysis package.
  • Kerry Wills walks us through his analytical process for Issues.
  • Bruce Benson leverages a story in Bloomberg Businessweek to introduce the radical idea of skepticism, as a tool for issue prevention.
  • Kenneth Darter observes that some issues only crop up after the project is (nearly) completed. That doesn’t make them non-issues!
  • Matthew Squair reports on a demonstration of how to take control of a car via the internet. “My new car has Wi-fi!” Far out, Dude …
  • Lynda Bourne covers the elements of stakeholder engagement, including a bit of history.
  • Paul Ritchie addresses a tough recruiting question: how do I interview for soft skills?
  • Nick Pisano looks at the economics of data through the lenses of public sector economic and Moore’s Law.
  • Rex Homlin explains that successful projects are successful on three levels.
  • Ryan Ogilvie covers the basics of software asset management.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Griffiths posts an infographic and some statistics and analysis on a topic we sometimes avoid: the down side of open space office plans.
  • Mike Cohn provides an alternative to user stories, for when your users aren’t really part of the story.
  • Glen Alleman explains why deadlines still matter, even in an Agile world.
  • Bob Tarne explains Lean, from a mountain climber’s perspective.
  • Alhad Akole share best Scrum practices for getting to zero defects.


Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews the all-around wonderful Dorie Clark, on how to be better and how to be noticed for it. Just 55 minutes, safe for work.
  • Harry Hall shares a short video, where Shane Hastie explains the discipline of business analysis. Three minutes, safe for work.
  • Ruairi O’Donnellan shares a micro-video on issue management using Sharepoint. Less than two minutes, safe for work.