About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources (GPHR and SPHR) and in benefits administration (CEBS). In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.

The Internet of (Human) Things and other Siri-ous Issues

“I need your FM voice.” My wife says I sound like the announcer on a classical music station. The problem is, Lien sounds like a Taiwanese woman speaking English, which she mostly learned as an adult. Siri mangles half of what she says, and it annoys her beyond depiction. My reaction would be to not speak to that wretched Apple faux person at all, but Lien expects that things should work as advertised. Her solution: she composes a message, recites it to me, and then holds her iPhone up to my face so I can repeat it in my dulcet tones. Pointing out to her that using the keyboard would be faster only exacerbates her annoyance. So I help her overcome one more twenty-first century, First World problem caused by the overreach of consumer technology. Which brings me to the Internet of Things.

Useless Cases

An article by Paul Sawyers in VentureBeat last year reported on funding secured by San Francisco-based June, which is developing a Smart Oven. I won’t bore you with the feature set – instead, I’ll just ask: How much baking goes on in your household? Based on that, how much usage would you get from an Internet-connected gadget which inspected whatever you plopped in the oven, determined what you were cooking, and adjusted the temperature accordingly? Isn’t this why God created thermostats for regulating oven temperature, which recipes invariably stipulate? Perhaps someone smarter than me can explain the use case for this “solution.”

That Looked Better on Jeri Ryan

CosFailThat oddity aside, there are a lot of incredibly valuable applications for placing passive RFID tags on newly manufactured products so they can self-report their presence. It simplifies everything from preventing inventory shrinkage to check-out (bar codes are so 20th century). So, do we want to use human-implanted RFID chips to authenticate identity? This is a thing, at least in small number. A recent article about RFID implants in Australia makes it seem like a silly fad, but the number of available applications for the technology is impressive. And as more phishing attacks expose more of our personal data, the allure of an identification that can’t be spoofed is undeniable.

Useful Cases

Over the last few years, the IRS has detected a number of fraudulent tax returns submitted electronically, with W-2 forms apparently retrieved by providing minimal information, such as SSN and birth date. If you had an implant with a very long unique identifier that could be read by your phone or other device and validated by some central database, would you feel more or less secure? How about if it could be read by any pocket-sized harvester? Well, would you like your device to generate a complementary key based on your fingerprint that would combine with your RFID tag to uniquely identify you? At what level would you feel secure about being an internet “thing?”

Scenario: Imagine you are working in a hospital emergency room. An ambulance brought in a patient who is unresponsive. Fortunately, her RFID tag was read on the way in, and her records – from medical history to address, next of kin, and insurance coverage – have already been retrieved. But the other victim in the accident lost his arm, where the tag was implanted. He’s bleeding out, and you have to collect his identification the old-fashioned way in order to treat him. While this seems extreme, it’s not unrealistic. An embedded RFID tag might be the difference between life and death.

You Knew This Would Be About Ethics, Right?

As project managers, we’re going to be asked to manage a lot of projects that will be done because they are possible, or because they solve another twenty-first century, First World problem. We need to accept responsibility for being not just the agent of the sponsor but the agent and voice of society. We have to be prepared to point out flaws and even talk powerful people out of their pet projects. If someone had been the voice of reason in 1945, saying, “The war is almost over, and this nuclear Genie should be left in the bottle,” would the world be a safer place? On the other hand, we have a responsibility to support the development of technologies that can save lives, even if they seem a bit creepy to us.

Siri and Alexa are just the beginning. From autonomous vehicles to next-generation biometric authentication, we are changing the way humans interact with the world. You might never find yourself in a position to influence the future. But if you do, don’t hesitate to speak out. Don’t wait for the Law of Unintended Consequences to catch up with our innovations.

New PM Articles for the Week of May 29 – June 4

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 29 – June 4. And this week’s video: Daniel Kahneman explains how a premortem can help a team overcome thinking bias when making critical decisions.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • Rani Molla links us to Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report, from the slide deck to a video of her delivery. Just 34 minutes, safe for work, and overwhelming to consider all in one sitting.
  • Jonathan Soble reports on Japan’s shrinking and aging population and what it will require to sustain economic growth. We should expect every industrialized nation to face this demographic problem (and business opportunity) by 2040.
  • Adam Shostack reflects on the external and internal reasons that organizations don’t maintain or update their software and notes a few choices for managing them.

Established Methods

  • John Goodpasture presents an interesting bar chart displaying relative priority of key project attributes (he calls them influencers and discriminators) from the client’s perspective.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews Emma Seaton-Smith, who has been nominated for the 2017 Rising Stars award in technology sponsored by the Times of London.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Jordan Kyriakidis, who says that we have the technology to improve the quality of our project requirements. Just 33 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elise Stevens interviews change leader Cassie Kowaltzke on how to exercise strong stakeholder engagement during business transformation. Just over 14 minutes, safe for work.
  • Alexis Devinin tutors us on the preparation of first-cost estimates as used in engineering projects.
  • Glen Alleman deconstructs the #NoEstimates manifesto presented at a recent Agile conference in Nashville, TN.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly round-up of all things Agile, from the necessity of experimentation to the State of Agile report, to why brainstorming sucks as an ideation tool.
  • Mike Cohn lists eight behavior recommendations that might help you become the Scum Master your team needs.
  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on defining “scaling” Agile, with a look at creating Agile product development capabilities.
  • George Pitagorsky notes the commonalities among the various Agile “denominations.”
  • The Clever PM contemplates the balance between agility and strategy.
  • Peter Borsella and Hubert Smits describe “potentially shippable” as it pertains to non-software products.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty contrasts two managers he once worked for at the same time, with two wildly different approaches to decision making.
  • Nancy Settle-Murphy sensitizes us to the problems that can arise from cultural differences in globally distributed teams.
  • Alex Puscasu suggests we encourage functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) conflict and critical debate within our project teams.
  • Mike Clayton explains the Transactional Analysis model of interpersonal communication. Just under six minutes, safe for work.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Rich Maltzman notes the growing trend to repair, re-purpose, and re-use electronic devices as encouraged by a movement called “Restart Parties.”
  • Jay Bennett reports on Moon Express and Rocket Lab’s use of 3D printers to create a booster vehicle and lander for the first Lunar landing by a private company. Target: December 2017.
  • Evan Koblentz explains why so many transaction processing software applications are still written and maintained in COBOL: it just runs faster.

Working and the Workplace

  • Lisette Sutherland interviews writer Sue Thomas on finding the balance between nature and technology. Just 35 minutes, safe for work.
  • Suzanne Lucas highly recommends that you take a lunch break. If not for yourself, then for the sake of the restaurant business.
  • Bertrand Duperrin notes that a focus on the employee experience comes after refinement of the customer experience—and that’s a good thing.


New PM Articles for the Week of May 22 – 28

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 22 – 28. And this week’s video: The Allman Brothers Band, live at the Beacon Theatre in New York in 2003, performing “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” Rest in peace, Gregg.

Must read!

  • Eric Garton makes the case for managing human capital as carefully and rigorously as we manage financial capital (which is cheaper and far more plentiful).
  • Robert Austin and Gary Pisano report on the growth of neurodiversity—actively recruiting candidates and accommodating employees with autism and similar conditions—in the corporate world.
  • Brandon Vigliarolo reports that stolen (and exploitable) data from every single Fortune 500 company has been found on the DarkNet.

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin summarizes the high-level changes coming in the Sixth Edition of the PMBOK. To be released in 3Q17, with exam changes in 1Q18.
  • Mike Donoghue identifies the characteristics that make a project complex, from technical to financial to … well, lots of stuff.
  • Lynda Bourne reviews the various biases and political influences that may apply when using reference classes to calculate management reserves.
  • Mike Clayton explains how the linear responsibility chart connects work breakdown structure to resources. Just six minutes, safe for work.
  • Leigh Espy defines, compares, and contrasts Waterfall and Agile.
  • The Clever PM makes the case for managing to data, as opposed to going with your gut or best guess.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from resilient teams to Agile at scale, to Reddit for product managers, to revisiting Deming’s 14 points.
  • Johanna Rothman starts a series of articles to define “Scaling Agile,” so we all have a common vocabulary to argue with.
  • Scott Sehlhorst gives his thoughts on achieving Agile at Scale, focusing on product management.
  • Rex Lester lists what he believes to the three most important Agile practices. Actually, these are applicable to just about everything from retail to medical care.
  • John Yorke notes the difference between a deliberate culture and a reflective culture. You can’t change the behavior (and culture) of the group simply by changing processes.
  • Bob Tarne reflects on the nature of estimates, as he waits for the airline to resolve an unspecified technical issue.

Applied Leadership

  • Harry Hall shares some techniques for improving your presentations.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Dr. Ginger Levin on embracing and exploiting change. Just 28 minutes, safe for work.
  • John Goodpasture notes that those driving change won’t get much support from the people who will benefit from the change because they have experienced it yet.
  • Seth Godin shares an insight: people resist change because they are rewarded for being competent, and change brings the risk of incompetence.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Brendan Toner reviews Hyper Plan, a two-dimensional task manager. Looks interesting, but no mobile option.
  • Lee Munroe gets us started on user testing as a component of UX research.
  • David Schlesinger gives us the high points on implementing encryption for network assets, including an allowable exception for executives and their admins.

Working and the Workplace

  • Maddy Osman shares her collected practices for maintaining productivity when working from home.
  • Lisette Sutherland talks with Ralph van Roosmalen about a way for remote teams to make decisions on the fly, using a shared document. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.
  • Art Petty suggests we think of career planning as an adventure into parts unknown.