New PM Articles for the Week of August 3 – 9

Irvine ApproachNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 3 – 9. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Suzanne Lucas, the Evil HR Lady, explains the alternatives businesses will face when implementing the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules.
  • Chris Wilder notes that information, intelligence, and the internet of things is driving fundamental changes to the supply chain.
  • Lynda Bourne builds on two earlier articles on stakeholder engagement, with a focus on tools and techniques.

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman debunks a few pronouncements on the differences between Agile and Waterfall.
  • David Cotgreave on getting the right PM assigned to the project: “Outsourcing PMO is a very effective filter against the risk of poor cultural alignment!”
  • Cynthia Zieman notes that the key to standardizing contract management is flexibility.
  • Susanne Madsen defines the four components of building trust
  • John Goodpasture shares some insights on negotiating.
  • Soma Bhattacharya interviews Mark Woeppel, author of “Visual Project Management,” on his model for visual PM, called Viewpoint.
  • Harry Hall lists seven techniques that, taken together, will dramatically improve the quality and reliability of project cost and schedule estimates.
  • Kiron Bondale considers the alternatives to crashing a project schedule.
  • Allen Ruddock identifies common problems with meetings and the ways to prevent them.
  • Michael Wood explains how to become as business-savvy as your management and customers expect you to be.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman clarifies the differences between product manager and product owner, and why the team’s manager should not also be the product owner.
  • Mike Cohn gets to the flimsy basis for the claim that 64% of software features are rarely or never used.
  • Henny Portman reviews David Scott Bernstein’s new book, “Beyond Legacy Code.” Not just for coders – this sounds interesting for everyone associated with software projects.
  • Bart Gerardi describes the virtuous cycle of action that is Agile.
  • Brian de Haaff starts a list of things developers should stop saying. Especially #11.
  • Mike Griffiths gives us two-sentence overviews of how the DSDM, SAFe, DAD, and LeSS frameworks address strategic alignment.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews communications diva Jenn Swanson on applying communication skills to a new job (or project). Just 55 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elizabeth Harrin lists a few tips for making virtual meetings work. Less than four minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Gil Broza at Agile 2015, on why so many organizations are disappointed with their Agile implementations. Just 15 minutes, safe for work.

Working with People

  • Seth Godin notes the prevalence of superstition at work, where stuff is just so complicated.
  • Peter Tarhanidis says that the key to training project managers is to move away from pedagogy, toward adult learning.
  • Bruce Harpham interviews Donald Asher on his new book, “Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why.”

Enjoy!

Palm Trees and Carrots

The HP Garage

The HP Garage

News out of the UK: The Register reports that the R&D teams at Hewlett-Packard are being asked to comply with the corporate dress code, so customers visiting the soon-to-be separated enterprise consulting part of the company don’t get the idea that they have a bunch of scruffy engineers on staff. Never mind that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were a couple of scruffy engineers who started the company in a garage behind the house at 367 Addison Avenue, in Palo Alto: these days, HP is more like one of the palm trees found further south, with shallow roots and more decorative value than function.

As companies mature, the founders tend to hire executives with experience leading the kind of business their investors hope to profit from. Sometimes, that works well, as has been the case at LinkedIn. Sometimes, not so well, as Steve Jobs found out when John Scully, whom he recruited from Pepsi-Cola, fired him. Of course, Apple under Scully foundered, and eventually they brought back Jobs. You know the rest. And as former CEO Carly Fiorina fails to convince Republican primary voters that she’s capable of leading the free world, current boss Meg Whitman struggles to overcome the title of “Most Underachieving CEO” awarded by Bloomberg in 2013.

Technology companies are not like soft drink companies, or retailers, or fast food companies. They are started by engineers and designers, who create products that are briefly valuable. I say “briefly,” because the life cycle of a technology product is measured in months, as opposed to the perpetual appeal of fried chicken or sugared, carbonated water. These talented, visionary folks are the roots of the company. When the finance people and the sales people and the other suits make the company about themselves, the engineers leave, or get forced out. HP, for example, sold off most of the engineering bits as Agilent Technologies in 1999. And the suits get left with a bundle of rapidly obsolescing products that they can’t sell, and a bunch of off-shore engineers taking orders rather than visionaries obsessing over the details. So the suits diversify, buying up firms with an installed base that they think they can capture. HP bought Apollo and Convex; Compaq bought Tandem and DEC, to get into the corporate marketplace, and then HP bought Compaq. A few years later, the suits temporarily in charge at HP bought consulting giant EDS. Now, the suits under Whitman are going to split the company into two publicly traded entities: business services (the former EDS), and computers and printers (what remains of the rest of their purchases).

I’ve been working on a consulting contract for the last six months, where the customer provided me with a three year old HP laptop. When I dropped it off at Fedex yesterday, I felt like washing my hands. It’s not a bad computer, mind you: more like a Bic lighter – cheap, disposable, and mass produced. The sort of product designed by a group of engineers under a contract, and manufactured under another contract in some facility in China. Those deep, value-creating roots are gone. And all that remains is a palm tree, giving minimal shelter to a bunch of suits negotiating contracts and trying to differentiate me-too products that they didn’t innovate, like fried chicken vendors selling a heritage they purchased from long-dead founders.

A company that abandons its roots doesn’t have a way to grow. Like carrots, the valuable part is in the roots. All that fluffy green stuff at the top, not so much.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 27 – August 2

Over the StripNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 27 – August 2. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Elizabeth Harrin shares the ten “nots” – things you should never do, at the expense of your career.
  • Kristin Wong summarizes recent research that found it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to task after a significant interruption.
  • Harry Hall recounts his recommendations for sponsors. One of the top reasons for project failure is a lack of leadership and sustained engagement by the project sponsor.

PM Best Practices

  • Pat Weaver outlines the changes coming to the PMP exam, effective November 1, 2015. Based on the recent role delineation study, it reflects the way we manage projects today.
  • John Goodpasture analyzes a list of paradoxes prevalent in Digital Age leadership, as compiled by Nielsen and Meehan.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Bill Dow on integrating social media into your project communication plan. Just 20 minutes, safe for work.
  • Lynda Bourne reviews our alternatives for dealing with stakeholders: crisis management, stakeholder management, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Ryan Ogilvie argues that the tool is not as important as how we plan to use it. “Don’t paint a rusty car.”
  • Ben Ferris introduces us to one of his colleagues: the office coffee machine.
  • Michael Greer has published his new project management resources book online, and it’s free!
  • Glen Alleman explains why estimating is not guessing, and vice-versa. Note: the term dead reckoning is a corruption of ded (deduced) reckoning.
  • Nick Pisano addresses a conundrum: software is getting slower at a faster rate than computer hardware is getting faster.
  • Gil Press profiles Michael Stonebraker on his recent Big Data work: getting past the extract – transform – load model of curating multiple data sources via machine learning.
  • Tushar Patel expounds on how the PMO can add value.
  • Bertrand Duperrin maintains that the only client of an intranet project is the employee end user.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn helps us check our math on product backlog grooming: estimates tend to get better as we better understand what we’re estimating.
  • Randy Rayess notes that the skill set for “great coder” has no significant overlap with the skill set for “team leader.” We need to have alternative career paths.
  • Jennifer Quraishi and Huimin Li interview Johanna Rothman on the concepts in her new book, “Agile and Lean Program Management.”
  • Santosh Shaastry examines technical debt and the technical definition of done.

Managing Your Career

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Jen Gresham, author and coach, on how overachievers can find the clarity and courage they need to design the life they love. Just 58 minutes, safe for work, but don’t listen while multi-tasking – that would defeat the purpose!
  • Bruce Harpham reports from the World Domination Summit, equal parts enlightenment and entertainment.
  • Michael Adams reminds us that workplace diversity requires hard work and personal commitment.
  • Allen Ruddock makes the business case for project managers to use LinkedIn.

Enjoy!