New PM Articles for the Week of April 3 – 9

New project management articles published on the web during the week of April 3 – 9. And this week’s video: Art Petty tell us to find the opportunities lurking in situations characterized by ambiguity and uncertainty. Less than 4 minutes, safe for work.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • Michael Wood offers some career counseling for those considering a move to project management consulting.
  • Greg Satell says that looking for a good problem will lead us to find a great idea.
  • Bertrand Duperrin observes that there are no more technology companies—only companies using technology. Just ask Tesla Motors, now calling itself Tesla, Inc.

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin explains how to hold people accountable, in her weekly Project Management Café Facebook Live session. Join the group! Just 18 minutes, safe for work.
  • Harry Hall walks us through creating a project human resource management plan.
  • Moira Alexander tutors us on RFIs and RFQs from the perspective of both the potential customer and the vendor.
  • Anna Murray explains the nature of complex projects, using the assembly of an Ikea desk as a metaphor. If you’re thinking “schedule risk,” I think you get the idea.
  • Glen Alleman tutors us on interpreting a probability distribution, using the measured similarity in two very different climates to illustrate.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, including posts on how many teams a Scrum Master should handle and whether they should work themselves out of a job.
  • Jimeque Turner counts the soft skills that allowed her to transition from teacher to project manager, to Scrum Master.
  • Johanna Rothman contrasts an iterative approach with a cadence-driven approach.
  • The Clever PM debunks five common myths about “iteration.”
  • Pulkit Agrawal explains why a start-up firm chose to re-design their product, choosing growth and sustainability over short-term customer retention.
  • Coray Seifert reflects on lessons learned from using Hansoft for Agile project management on his most recent game development project. And more widely applicable than that.

Applied Leadership

  • John Goodpasture summarizes “The Right Kind of Crazy: A true story of teamwork, leadership, and high-stakes innovation,” by Adam Steltzner and William Patrick.
  • Michael Lopp extends Kim Scott’s model for Radical Candor into one of Radical (communication) Efficiency.
  • Margarita Mayo notes that, although humble people make the most effective leaders, we keep following charismatic narcissists.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Nancy Settle-Murphy and Elise Keith list the criteria to decide whether a face-to-face meeting is necessary or a virtual meeting will work as well.
  • Matt Weinberger looks out a decade to the end of the smartphone, and maybe new models for being human.
  • Seth Godin: “Technology destroys the perfect and then it enables the impossible.”
  • Peter Vishton argues that to break our own bad habits we should use the same training techniques that work on dogs.

Working and the Workplace

  • Ryan Ogilvie shares an anecdote that illustrates the need for excellent metrics when pursuing excellence.
  • Lisette Sutherland interviews Frank Cottle, CEO of Alliance Virtual Offices, on the virtual office movement and “third place” working. Just 45 minutes, safe for work.
  • Michael Hyatt uses Elon Musk as a counter-intuitive example to illustrate why the 100 hour work week is counter-productive.
  • Tom McFarlin shares a lesson from “Essentialism,” by Greg McKeown, on separating the vital few from the trivial many.


New Post at AITS: Decision-Making Under the Influence

My latest article for AITS was published today: Decision-Making Under the Influence: SME, HiPPO, and BOGSAT.

Good decisions require accurate, timely, actionable information and good decision-makers try to gather a variety of viewpoints. The influence of the subject matter expert is usually all three, while the highest-paid person’s opinion may be an undue influence, and peer opinions may be counter-productive. That’s not to say that you should dismiss them out of hand – far from it. You simply need to have a realistic expectation of what value they add. If you have comments on this topic, please leave a comment at AITS. If you have suggestions for future topics, please leave a comment here.

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

Major Update to my Home Office!

I addition to writing and blogging, I’m a project management consultant working from an office in my home. Many of my clients supply a laptop that they want me to use when accessing their network. Up until recently, I just spread everything around on my U-shaped desk – laptop, monitor, monitor, laptop, monitor – and tried not to knock anything over. Then a few months ago, I started looking at standing desks. I just don’t have room in my home office for another table or desk – if I did, I’d add a woodworking bench. For a while, it looked like I was going to have to ditch what I had in order to be able to start over. Not my idea of a positive solution. So I asked my daughter-in-law for her recommendation.

Home office sitting configuration

Sitting configuration, sans mug

Like me, Nancy works with multiple monitors. She has been using a gadget from Varidesk for several months. It sits on the tabletop and lets you raise and lower your monitors, keyboard, coffee mug, and so on with minimal exertion. Her experience has been positive, although she is considering a product from another company with an electric motor to handle the lifting. Since I need the exercise, I opted for the manual version of the desk. But that really only solved half of the problem.

Home office sitting configuration

Standing configuration, avec mug

I found a dual monitor KVM switch from StarTech, which allows me to toggle between the laptops. Then I ordered a Vivo laptop stand so I could mount the client laptop above my Dell, which lives in a docking station. I now have the two laptops “stacked” vertically next to my standing desk and I can work on one computer while monitoring the other for activity. I can toggle both monitors, keyboard, and trackball with a single button on the right side of the StarTech KVM box, located between and beneath the monitors. The third 1920 by 1200 monitor is sitting in the corner, pending other uses.

The Vivo mount is stable enough to type on when logging in or when I want to respond to an Email or IM without switching to that laptop. It never moves, even when raising and lowering the VariDesk. I considered mounting the pole in an existing hole in the desktop return at the base of the U, but by using the C-clamp on the edge of the return behind the other laptop, I was able to reclaim that space for other uses. And when I need to remove the lower laptop from its docking station, the Vivo arm swings the upper laptop out of the way.

At this point, I’m sold on the health benefits and relative comfort of using a desk that lets me alternate between sitting and standing – when I say I’m an Agile project manager, I really mean it! My next purchase will likely be one of those soft padded mats to stand on and maybe an IV pole to supplement my coffee mug. If I ever decide to mount my Macbook, I’ll use that return desktop hole for another Vivo mount. They have one that supports both a laptop and a monitor, at standing height. And I still have space under the hutch on the left side of the desk for other gadgets.

Final note: I don’t have any relationships with any of these vendors, and I didn’t even add them to the Practicing IT PM Bookstore, although maybe I should. This is just my personal product review.