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 and in benefits administration. 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.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 16 – 22

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 16 – 22. And this week’s video: a quick review of recent changes to Microsoft Visio, followed by a demonstration of how to integrate Visio with Microsoft Project. 26 minutes, safe for work.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Bill Taylor focuses our attention on three reasons why Netflix is successful. And focus is the key word here. 4 minutes to read.
  • Greg Satell revisits the failures of Blockbuster, Kodak, and Xerox. The root cause of each of their failures was not just disruption. 5 minutes to read.
  • Dan Kopf summarizes a report from the OECD on what higher tariffs might mean for economic growth. It’s not all about the retail price of manufactured goods. 2 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • Satya Narayan Dash tutors us on contingency reserve and management reserve. 9 minutes to read.
  • John Goodpasture explains David Hulett’s approach to integrating the risk register and the project plan. 2 minutes to read.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Karlene Agard on value management in mega-projects—reducing cost without reducing value. Podcast, 16 minutes.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy delivers a very detailed mini-course on project stakeholder management, from identification to creating a Register. 16 minutes.
  • Mike Clayton provides detailed instructions on how to get the most from our next “lessons learned” meeting. 12 minutes to read.
  • The folks at Clarizen share their thoughts on milestones—on both good and bad practices. 3 minutes to read.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from Beyond Budgeting to why open floor plans suck to results of the scrum master survey. 7 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • Raffaela Rein describes inclusive design as removing barriers to access for the disabled, from the deaf to the color blind and beyond. 5 minutes to read.
  • Erik Dietrich describes seven types of testing (beyond functional testing) that you should be doing. 5 minutes to read.
  • James Kobelius considers what it might mean to certify an AI product as “safe.” 6 minutes to read.
  • Janelle Shane gives us a practitioner’s view of why artificial narrow intelligence is more achievable than artificial general 5 minutes to read.
  • Alex Aitken questions the predictive value of velocity. 3 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Alexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from fairy tales and fables to accurate data to being compassionate. 5 outbound links, 4 minutes to read.
  • John Yorke explains the concepts exemplified by Herbie, a key character in The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. This is a novel that introduces the Theory of Constraints. 7 minutes to read.
  • Mary Jo Asmus points out some of the upsides to delegating. 2 minutes to read.

Research and Insights

  • Mike Griffiths catalogs some of the AI assistant applications we should look forward to as project managers. 7 minutes to read.
  • Max Steinmetz collates some recent statistics on Agile adoption and results. 3 minutes to read.
  • Alison Coleman previews a new report from PMI: Next Practices: Maximizing the Benefits of Disruptive Technologies on Projects. 5 minutes to read.
  • Oliver Staley reports on a new study from a business school in Madrid which compared formal and automated communication with informal communications at work. 2 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Elizabeth Harrin shares an extract from her excellent new book, Project Manager, which describes three ways to get that first job as a PM. 5 minutes to read.
  • Berta Melder explains why serotonin is important to our happiness and productivity and identifies daily activities that can help us produce more of it. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kerry Wills reminds us to observe a few simple workplace courtesies—like keeping your calendar updated. A minute to read.

Enjoy!

Project Management Lessons from Paleoanthropology

In early 1987, a study of 145 mitochondrial DNA samples from women representing a variety of populations, conducted by biochemists and geneticists, was published in Nature. Using a complex analytical model based on mutation rates, the authors determined that all living people have a common ancestor, later dubbed Mitochondrial Eve, who lived in east Africa between 140,000 and 200,000 years ago. This was a blow to the multiregional hypothesis promoted by several prominent paleoanthropologists, which asserted that the fossil record showed continuous evolution over the last two million years in widely distributed locations. But recently, a team of geneticists, paleoanthropologists, and other scientists collaborated to develop a new model. And their approach has important lessons for those of us who manage teams of knowledge workers with diverse specialties.

Acknowledge Biases and Assumptions

Every well-developed knowledge specialty has its own culture, models, methodologies, favored data sources, and assumptions. Consequently, practitioners have biases that reflect their specialty. The scientists in this interdisciplinary team, led by archeologist Eleanor Scerri, wanted to avoid letting their professional biases lead to “cherry picking across different sources of data to match a narrative emanating from one [field].” So, the team met for three days to review each other’s work—challenging assumptions, noting accomplishments and problems, and learning to communicate effectively with their colleagues in other specialties. This process led to a coherent view, goodwill, and mutual respect. Lesson learned: many of our biases arise from deep knowledge in our specialty and confronting them early can facilitate cooperation and team building.

Develop a Common Vocabulary

Paleoanthropologists, geographers, geneticists, and environmental scientists have very different ways of talking about their work. Each field has its own jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms. Scerri noted, “[Our] understanding of findings tends to be influenced by the models and paradigms we have in our heads, which tend to … [affect] how we process new information.” The team had to pool their knowledge in a way that let them share data, methods, and models in a way that didn’t leave anyone out. This required them to adapt their communications to use terminology that was meaningful to the entire group and avoid a dependence on jargon. Lesson learned: time invested in establishing a common vocabulary facilitates understanding and leads to real progress.

Become Accustomed to Conflict

The researchers were able to reconcile their different theories into a cohesive story that accounts for the complexity of the different data points and leaves room for the abundant ambiguity still present. Scerri noted, “Insights from different models can help to shed light on the answers we look for … it’s all about incremental steps and changing perspectives.” Lesson learned: conflict can often be resolved, but even when it can’t, the root of the conflict is often based in some ambiguity. Acknowledging that ambiguity is a step toward a tentative agreement, pending eventual resolution of the ambiguity.

Scerri and her colleagues recognize that, like humanity itself, their model is still evolving. New data and new ideas will inevitably lead to future refinements, and they are fine with that. And that might be the most important lesson of all: you don’t need to be absolutely certain in order to deliver something of immediate and future value.

And if you’re curious, here’s a link to their paper.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 9 – 15

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 9 – 15. And this week’s video: Cy Swan, still working as a blacksmith and knifemaker at 81, celebrates Independence Day by blasting an anvil into the air, at a pair of hovering drones as they film the whole thing. Yeah … 3 minutes, safe for work, and no anvils were harmed in the making of this video.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Dave Gershgorn reports on the push by Microsoft for Congress to regulate how facial recognition technology is used, based on potential human rights risks. 2 minutes to read.
  • Richard Fall reports on the evidence of bias in the proprietary algorithms in COMPAS, a program used by judges that recommends criminal sentences. 3 minutes to read.
  • Dipayan Ghosh gives us the executive summary of California’s new data privacy law. 4 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • John Goodpasture shares a response from one of his students to the change management question, how would you prepare an organization to take on Agile methods? 2 minutes to read.
  • Robert Wysocki describes a comprehensive model of project management called the Scope Triangle. 4 minutes to read, part 1 of 2.
  • Glen Jones explores the selection of KPIs for executive oversight. Here is part 2. 6 minutes to read both parts.
  • Kiron Bondale notes the perils of expressing resource availability as a percentage. 2 minutes to read.
  • Nat Schatz recommends additional due diligence for efficient consolidation of project resources and processes after a merger or acquisition. 12 minutes to read.
  • Mike Clayton explains the meaning of education contact hours and PDUs, as used in the PMI credentialing process. 8 minutes to read.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his list of Agile content, from changing corporate culture to product prioritization to whether Scrum is iterative or incremental. 7 outbound links, 2 minutes to read.
  • Chitra Manoj presents a case study that demonstrates the value of a gap analysis in a project to implement an off-the-shelf replacement for an existing financial system. 3 minutes to read.
  • Svetozar Krunic explains lead scoring, a user behavior metric valued by marketers. 4 minutes to read.
  • Justin Rohrman describes a definition of “done” for development completed by a small team with no real hand-offs. 6 minutes to read.
  • Claire Reckless gives her detailed answer to a simple question: What is software testing? You can’t manage what you don’t understand. 10 minutes to read.
  • Steven Sinofsky points out the bear traps in implementing API connections to other systems from your enterprise system. 12 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Alexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from making sure your goals have impact to not believing your own BS to the need for better governance. 3 minutes to read.
  • Johanna Rothman posts two parts on objectives and key results (OKR) and how that translates to accountability, versus fostering responsibility and autonomy. 7 minutes to read both, here’s part 2.
  • Cesar Abeid interviews Jason Evanish on the importance of using 1 on 1 meetings in growing your team members. Podcast, 36 minutes, safe for work.

Research and Insights

  • Greg Satell reports on recent progress in the war against synthetic identities used to defraud financial institutions. 5 minutes to read.
  • Tom Merritt suggest five alternatives for making your web browsing more secure. Read or video, both 2 minutes.
  • Polina Aronson and Judith Duportail examine the starkly different empathic responses of two different AI conversational agents: one programmed in the US and one in Russia. 12 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Emily Esposito recaps the key points from Daniel Pink’s new book, When: The scientific secrets of perfect timing. 3 minutes to read.
  • Benjamin Spall distills lessons learned from talking to over 300 successful people about their morning routines. 4 minutes to read.
  • Michael Lopp shares his practices for managing his browser, phone, Email, and life. 5 minutes to read.
  • Alyse Kalish explains why everyone should have a professional headshot handy. 2 minutes to read.

Enjoy!