New Post at AITS: The Three “Ins”

My latest article for AITS was published today: The Three “Ins” That Are Putting Our Projects Behind Schedule.

The Execution stage is where projects fall behind, and where leadership is needed the most. Plainly, it takes more than just a good project manager to overcome indecision, inactivity, and indifference but it falls to the PM to engage the team and their management throughout the project.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.

New PM Articles for the Week of January 8 – 14

New project management articles published on the web during the week of January 8 – 14. And this week’s video: Vijay Pande explains drug development and healthcare from an engineering perspective, including “technical debt” and other things that don’t sound like biology. 24 minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Nancy Settle-Murphy talks up the value of civilized disagreement and explains how to pursue it. 6 minutes to read.
  • Henny Portman reviews The Startup Way—How Entrepreneurial Management Transforms Culture and Drives Growth, Eric Ries’s follow-up to The Lean Startup. 5 minutes to read.
  • The January 2018 edition of the Women Testers Magazine is now available. Not just for or by women! 4 minutes to scan the overview, but download and read the whole thing.

Established Methods

  • John Owen explains schedule risk analysis, including some excellent examples. 6 minutes to read.
  • Jeff Collins explores some of the benefits of a reliable project schedule. 5 minutes to read.
  • Elizabeth Harrin lists five ways to get tasks out of your inbox and make them trackable actions. 6 minutes to read.
  • Mike Clayton tutors us on the stage gate process and why it adds project management value. 12 minutes to read.
  • Leigh Espy shares a single-page format for a project status report. 6 minutes to read.
  • Billy Guinan describes ways to cultivate a successful project management culture. 6 minutes to read.
  • Lew Sauder tells us what a PMO does to add value. 4 minutes to read.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from troubled Agile transitions to building trust to what product strategy concepts are currently en vogue. 6 outbound links, 2 minutes to scan.
  • Will Fanguy curates the weekly design news roundup, with 5 outbound links. 2 minutes to scan.
  • Martin Eriksson tabulates ten product management articles you should have read in 2017. 1o outbound links, 7 minutes to read.
  • John Cutler notes that Agile done right is actually continuous design. 4 minutes to read.
  • Glen Alleman debunks some of the balderdash being passed around as verities. 5 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Bruce Benson notes that just because an unethical behavior seems to have become common does not mean it should be accepted. 3 minutes to read.
  • Art Petty explains how to “survive to play another day” when reporting to a dictator-manager. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kerry Wills lists some examples of meeting invitations and other communications that don’t make expectations clear and actionable. 2 minutes to read.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Nilay Patel went to CES and realized just how much the tech industry assumes that consumers understand—mind the gap! 4 minutes to read.
  • Kiron Bondale advocates the use of a Kanban to manage your personal development resolutions for 2018. OK, call it a plan, then. 3 minutes to read.
  • David Lavenda updates our expectations for AI delivering improved productivity and engagement in the coming year. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kritika Pandey lists some hacks and tools for team collaboration and productivity. 4 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Martin De Wulf does a deep dive into the stress of remote working. 12 minutes to read.
  • Seth Godin points out the keys to good customer service are in the first 60 seconds of the encounter. 2 minutes to read.
  • Tommy Goodwin notes that the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics has added “Project Management Specialist” to its Standard Occupational Classification and explains why it’s a big deal. 3 minutes to read.


Review: Bad Meetings Happen to Good People

Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to run meetings that are effective, focused, and produce results, by Leigh Espy

Leigh Espy is a practicing IT project manager with over 15 years of experience, but she has also worked as a counselor to at-risk families and served in the Peace Corps. In addition, she coaches and writes about project management, leadership, and performance at From that background, Leigh has crafted a book that manages to both cover the basics and provide a detailed compendium of techniques and best practices.

The opening sections explain how to use the book and who can benefit from it, followed by the rhetorical question:  Do I really need to hold a meeting? Leigh describes some of the most common types of meetings and when they are appropriate.

Part 1: The Basics is quite a bit more than the name might imply. This part covers actions to be taken before, during and after the meeting. Preparation includes everything from establishing the purpose and selecting participants to creating and sharing an agenda and supporting documents. The sections on “during” cover best practices, such as ways to manage conflict, take notes, drive decisions, and identify action items. “After” begins with the wrap-up, followed by preparing and distributing meeting notes and action items and soliciting feedback.

Part 2: Boosting Your Impact is essentially a reference book. The first few sections describe meeting types, with the objective, recommended approach and common challenges. A number of sections address common behavioral and situational problems you may encounter and effective ways to address them. Leigh also goes into professional presence and communication skills, including cultural sensitivities. She closes with seven(!) alternative meeting room layouts and points to consider when selecting them.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Leigh writes clearly and succinctly and stresses positive outcomes even when explaining how to deal with obstacles. The result is a book that you’ll reach for several times a year, and recommend (or gift) to colleagues who struggle to keep their meetings effective.