New PM Articles for the Week of January 9 – 15

New project management articles published on the web during the week of January 9 – 15. And this week’s video: the Jon Spear Band celebrates risk management (sort of) with “The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese.” Just 3:16 of jump blues, safe for work. Turn it up …

Must read!

  • Michael Lopp contemplates the illusion of productivity, the mindset of busy, and (his proposed cure) the Builder’s Mindset. Think of this as an intervention.
  • Liane Davey advises on managing a team that has been tasked with unrealistic targets. Ethical failures at Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, and so on arose from pressure to deliver, at all costs.
  • Nancy Settle-Murphy makes the case for proving that you are trustworthy and then tells you how.

Established Methods

  • Harry Hall gets us back to the basics of cost management. Great example, real life actions.
  • Elizabeth Harrin calendars the project management conferences planned for 2017, including some too far in the future to describe the content.
  • Mike Clayton lists fifty great project management blogs we should be following in 2017, including many new to me.
  • Frederic Lardinois reports that Atlassian Software (Jira and Confluence) is buying Trello in yet another round of consolidation in the project management software market.
  • David Robins points out the downside of online project management and collaboration software: empowering the uninitiated. Think “Jurassic Park.”
  • Glen Alleman goes into deep, technical detail on the Cone of Uncertainty, which is a metaphor for the process of reducing cost and schedule risk on projects.
  • Thomas Carney gives us a detailed course on quality assurance in software engineering.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers shares his weekly Agile roundup: Scrum turns 21, product ownership (not just the role), and whether “priority” can be plural.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews NK Shrivastava on his PMI Global Congress presentation, Warning Signs that Agile Isn’t Working. Just 30 minutes, safe for work.
  • Marty Bradley addresses the new Agilista question: should the PMO go away?
  • Matteo Tontini describes learning to work as a team using Scrum, without a full-time product owner. Failure in three, two, one …
  • Moira Alexander posts a beginners FAQ on Agile project management. You almost certainly have a stakeholder that would benefit from this, so pass it along.

Applied Leadership

  • Seth Godin translates a sign at LaGuardia Airport from pompous bureaucratic to conversational English. Yes, you have permission to communicate like an actual person.
  • Coert Visser explains the Mother of All Biases: naïve realism. Includes a “count your fingers” exercise demonstrating how our perception is sharp in only a very narrow field.
  • Elise Stevens curates a list of resources for developing effective leadership skills.
  • Andy Kaufman reflects on influencing through questions. Just over six minutes, safe for work. A bit loud, but if you clicked on the Jon Spear Band tune …

Technology and Techniques

  • Jenna Hogue directs us to a presentation on cognitive computing (51 minutes, safe for work) but mercifully gives us an overview of the content.
  • Carnegie Mellon University has lined up four of the world’s best professional poker players to compete against an AI program. Sounds like “Her” meets “Casino Royale.”
  • Nilanjan Kar tutors us on creating an impactful PMO dashboard using Powerpoint. More interesting for the examples than the techniques, but worth reading.

Working and the Workplace

  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Anna Schlegel, author of “Truly Global: The theory and practice of bringing your company to international markets.”
  • Ryan Ogilvie recounts a conversation with a colleague who was asked to ‘drop the hammer’ on people more often in her new role. Ryan’s counsel: choose your battles wisely.
  • Suzanne Lucas shares demotivating job descriptions penned by the people who do them. “I try to convince people in another time zone to talk to the person two cubicles away.”

Enjoy!

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 November 21 – 27

New project management articles published on the web during the week of November 21 – 27. And this week’s video: “Weightless,” by Manchester, UK “ambient” band Marconi Union. A study by Mindlab International determined that this song produces a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date: a 65% reduction in overall anxiety and a 35% reduction in usual physiological resting rates. In case of holiday-induced stress …

Must read!

  • Darragh Broderick points out five leadership lessons we can learn from the National Football League.
  • Johanna Rothman provides elegant definitions of iterative and incremental, and how each manages a different type of risk.
  • Seth Godin notes that automation is reducing the difference in cost between custom, on-demand orders and mass-produced products. We’ll need a few adjustments in our management approach to stay in business.

Established Methods

  • Barry Hodge helps us radically transform our status reports by making progress visible.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy posted two more risk management videos, on selecting risk response strategies. Total time just over 7 minutes, safe for work.
  • John Goodpasture points out the application of project statistics in “Cost Risk and Uncertainty,” Chapter 14 of the GAO Cost Estimating Manual. Free download!
  • Pat Weaver reports to us on the application of virtual reality and 4D Building Information Modelling to optimize scheduling of activities and resources in construction projects.
  • Harry Hall tutors us on scope risks – how to recognize them, how to manage them.
  • Mike Donoghue puts the focus on gathering and managing requirements.
  • Naomi Caietti explains the details of managing organizational change in projects.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Suketu Nagrecha, Chairman of the Board of the PMI Educational Foundation. Just 19 minutes, safe for work.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers posts his weekly round-up of Agile articles, blog posts, and other content.
  • Dave Prior discusses “being” Agile, as opposed to “doing” Agile with Jessie Shternshus and Paul Hammond. Just 40 minutes, safe for work.
  • Henny Portman bullets the learning objectives of the SAFe 4.0 Scrum Master course.
  • Margaret Kelsey rounds up links to the top five #DesignTalk webinars of 2016, with links to the recordings.

Applied Leadership

  • Elizabeth Harrin identifies the potential sources of conflict in each phase of the project life cycle.
  • Leigh Espy shares a variety of ways to express appreciation to your team and co-workers.
  • Deanne Earle reviews “Leading in a Changing World,” by Keith Coats and Graeme Codrington.
  • Elise Stevens interviews author and organization change management consultant Michelle Gibbings on becoming a more effective influencer. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.

Technology and Techniques

  • Mike Griffiths tutors us on the fine points of creating multiple choice questions (and how to spot the correct answer in poorly written examples).
  • Leyla Acaroglu reviews the two physiological states of being for insights into what motivates change. As it turns out, a little discomfort is a good thing.
  • Jory McKay explains how our brain processes what we’ve read for retention. Yes, how you read makes a difference.

Working and the Workplace

  • Nir Eyal updates us on the current state of the ongoing debunking of ego-depletion, and suggests that there is meaning in our feelings about our work.
  • Suzanne Lucas reports on a study from Germany: switching from a seniority-based system to a merit-based system breeds inter-generational resentment.
  • Lisette Sutherland interviews Clare McNamara on giving virtual teams the time and space to get to know each other. Just 38 minutes, safe for work.

Enjoy!