New PM Articles for the Week of January 2 – 8

New project management articles published on the web during the week of January 2 – 8. And this week’s video: Brooke Deterline talks about creating ethical cultures in business. Just eight minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Andy Kaufman asks several project management influencers, what was the most important lesson you learned last year? Just 40 minutes, safe for work.
  • Eamonn McGuinness describes a structured model for adapting your leadership approach to the situation.
  • Ryan Ogilvie expounds on continual service improvement, and the principle of learning by (and while) doing and continually improving while being transparent and inclusive.

Established Methods

  • Mary Shacklett provides examples of how critical thinking (or the lack thereof) can impact a project.
  • Elise Stevens explains how to deal with irrational stakeholders. Or at least, those brief periods where the rationality of their position is less than clear.
  • Rachel Burger identifies the five biggest project management trends of 2017.
  • Shuba Kathikeyan links us to six free online resources to learn about ITIL. But as Rob England reports, the number of folks taking the ITIL exam is shrinking.
  • Amber Lee Dennis has compiled a primer on the Data Warehouse. Well worth reading, even if you’ve been around a while.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from Agile at scale to Hybrid Agile, to principles of Emergent Organizations.
  • Dave Prior interviews Michael Daly and Matt Volpe on how they’re making Agile work at Major League Baseball (not playing; Advanced Media). Just 50 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Joy Beatty on scaled Agile in the Large Enterprise. Just 31 minutes, safe for work.
  • Glen Alleman contemplates Scrum roles in the context of accountability and responsibility in the presence of a governance framework that extends beyond the team.
  • Craig Smith and Tony Ponton interview Betty Enyonam Kumahor on the practice of Frugal Innovation in Africa. Just 27 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Parkin demonstrates how to assess user stories using the definition of done and the SMART criteria.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty explores former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink’s mantra, “Discipline equals freedom.”
  • Grace Windsor lists five New Year’s resolutions to not make and five alternatives that we should try, instead.
  • Johanna Rothman reflects on the failure of Holocracy at Zappos and the way we naturally develop relationships.
  • Karen McGraw writes about the “Bad boss experience,” as a starting point for becoming a good boss.
  • Andy Wolber shows how to make your IT project portfolio more understandable to your customers by grouping them into start, switch, and stop.

Working and the Workplace

  • Lisette Sutherland samples answers from various interviewees on the question she always asks: What does your virtual office look like? Just 23 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elizabeth Harrin tells of her adoption of a “transitions” strategy at the end of her work day. Ah, the things you learn from being a Mum …
  • Jeff Wise reviews the science behind changing our habits, and thus our lives.
  • Coert Visser reflects on moments of spontaneous progress, as opposed to the stuff we work so hard to achieve.
  • Jessica Meher recounts the realization that holding back, not speaking up, was just being selfish. Leadership requires confidence.
  • Jennifer Aldrich shares her list of questions to ask when considering a job offer from a start-up (or from established companies).


To a Millennial

The pace of change increases at an exponential rate, and over the next two or three decades, our civilization will undergo more change than in the last millennium – changes that may make entire institutions, including nations and religions, obsolete. By the end of this century, from artificial super-intelligence to life spans approaching two or three centuries, the human experience may be completely unrecognizable to today’s school children. We can’t possibly imagine what it will be like, any more than Gutenberg could imagine the Kindle Fire, or understand it without falling into utter despair.

As a sixty-something, it’s time for my cohort to make room for Millennials to step up and lead. And to you, I humbly offer some thoughts on how you might prepare to ensure that people do what is right, rather than what is merely possible. Much of what you will learn during your life will be obsolete before you master it. But learn, you must. Indeed, your children will likely experience foundational changes in a range comparable to those that led from Clovis points to COBOL, and riding that avalanche must be the natural thing for them to do.

Learn to be Skeptical

For the Boomers, an undergraduate degree was a differentiator. For Generation X, it became table stakes. For your generation, education is just a sunk cost and memorization is simply ridiculous. But if you have learned how to research, to think critically, to separate facts from mere assertions, “sponsored” search results, fake news and outright bullshit, and to unlearn everything that once mattered so much to you, then you are empowered to not-drown. Note that this doesn’t mean you will swim, or even float.

Learn to Change

Discipline is freedom. Your ability to change your behavior, whether it involves reinforcing the good things or stopping the bad ones, reshape your body or preserve your health is entirely a function of your ability to take disciplined action. Learn to be still, to be reflective, and to be mindful. But also learn to abandon old habits, design and adopt new habits, and continually assess the effectiveness of your behaviors in helping you achieve your goals. Embrace the process, and the results will follow.

Learn to Make Decisions

If you’ve learned nothing else from your games, you should know that hesitation is a decision, and often the wrong decision. Learn to quickly decide in the absence of certainty, to take assertive action with minimal actionable information, to recognize a bad decision, and to abandon it. Don’t just fail quickly – backtrack immediately. This means taking risk management to places we’ve never gone before – be sure to send us a selfie, if you’re still doing that sort of thing.

Learn to Influence

Yours is the collaborative generation – you swarm a problem in ways that make us Boomers feel like equestrian statues, covered in pigeon-shit. The next skill beyond collaborating is influencing. To influence opinion is to influence action. Just don’t be selfish. Don’t be exploitive. Don’t drive people to behave unethically, or cause them to regret falling under your influence, even if they have no idea who you are.

Learn to Lead

Once upon a time, in a world without social media or even telephones, we believed that we led by example. But in the last few decades, it’s become obvious that even odious examples could inspire followers. I don’t know how you should proceed here, because my generation’s thinking is simply invalid in this subject area. I ask only that you embrace equality, justice, kindness, and respect, and that you never abandon them for hate and tribalism.

Aside from these principles, I have little to offer you and can give no reason for you to feel like your world will be a better place – that will be entirely up to you. Peace be with you.

New PM Articles for the Week of December 26 – January 1

New project management articles published on the web during the week of December 26 – January 1. And this week’s video: as we start a new sequence of 365, Craig Benzine from Mental Floss explains why there are 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour. Just over two minutes, safe for work, and the various toys on the shelf in the background and framed pictures on the wall are worth the click, all by themselves.

New Year, Ready or Not

  • Sara McCord coaches us on how to efficiently wade through the enormous mound of Email that accumulated like snow on Lake Placid while we were on vacation.
  • Doug Thorpe repeats excellent advice from John Maxwell in planning ahead to improve your execution in the new year, remembered as PLAN AHEAD.
  • Alyse Kalish has curated a list of six TED talks with actionable self-improvement strategies. Don’t just make the usual New Year’s resolutions …

Established Methods

  • Glen Alleman summarizes the guidelines for a credible cost estimate.
  • John Goodpasture explains the Law of Requisite Variety and what it means for designing controls.
  • Joe Wynne completes his two-part series on managing organizational change in HR projects.
  • Michelle Knight tutors us on the data dictionary – useful for everything from data governance to designing reports.
  • Barry Hodge listed his take on the best project management blogs of2016 (including this one – thanks, Barry!).

Agile Methods

  • Mike Griffiths analyzes the role of business analyst in a project using Agile methods.
  • Ryan Ripley interviews Neil Killick on a variety of Agile topics, from “Shu-Ha-Ri” to #NoEstimates and “Done.” Just 53 minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior and Devin Hedge discuss estimates for bidding projects that will use Agile methods, as opposed to those proposals based on plan-driven methods. Just 15 minutes, safe for work.
  • Michael Abehsera asserts the need to design for reality, rather than our aspirations.
  • Craig Smith interviews James Lewis on the principles of microservices architectures. Just 31 minutes, safe for work.

Pot Pouri

  • Erin Griffith reports on the growing list of ethics scandals at various startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
  • Gretchen Reynolds summarizes a recent study into the effects of periodic walking as a positive alternative to the purely sedentary working day.
  • Brendan Toner gets the to-do list app down to two great alternatives – ToDoist and Wunderlist – and shares his reasons for selecting one of them.