New PM Articles for the Week of November 10 – 16

Balloon Over the WallNew project management articles published on the web during the week of November 10 – 16. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Kevin Kern traces the trajectory of re-planning from reactive to proactive to predictive.
  • Elizabeth Harrin summarizes a presentation by Mark Englehardt at PMI Hungary’s Art of Projects Conference, “Project Risk Management Doesn’t Have to be Difficult.”
  • Steven Levy outlines the elements of the project charter.
  • Roxi Bahar Hewertson considers how four types of mastery contribute to leadership success.
  • Rich Maltzman demonstrates the impact of context in our communications, with a graphic that lets us deceive ourselves.
  • Bruce Harpham presents the PMBOK view of managing conflict, as a follow-up to last week’s post on sources of project management conflict.
  • Bruce Benson explores conscious uncoupling, as members of a struggling organization fight to preserve the size of their piece of the pie.
  • Michael Girdler links morale problems and lowered and productivity as result of organizational change to the project communications plan.
  • Lynda Bourne contrasts the functions of management with the functions of governance.
  • Allen Ruddock looks at the “overs and unders” that contribute to failed projects.
  • Kerry Wills argues for picking team members who may not be perfect in any one role, but can play multiple roles.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn illustrates the incremental and iterative nature of Agile development, with a sculpture metaphor.
  • Mike Griffiths says that the key to scaling Agile is not adding process, but facilitating the work of teams.
  • Terry Bunio points out the plain truth that “minimum viable product” is not always an appropriate approach.
  • Michiko Diby takes issue with the term “Scrum Master.”
  • Neil Killick: “We teams can make a huge difference to removing the typical dysfunctions around software estimates, simply by asking the right questions.”
  • Madhavi Ledalla champions automation and virtualization, as drivers of improved quality, reduced build time, and more predictability.
  • Milton Dillard explains what Agile acquisition support is, in the context of how the U.S. federal government lets contracts.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Dave Cornelius on the project manager role in Lean and Agile approaches. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mark Phillipy shares a presentation on improving task estimation using three-point estimates and critical chain. Just 35 minutes, safe for work.
  • Paul Ritchie posts his very first Crossderry Blog podcast, explaining why the Apple Watch won’t compete with the Swiss watch industry. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.

Pot Pouri

  • Suzanne Lucas offers her list of ten simple things to do (and stop doing) in order to boost your career.
  • Coert Visser explains why you should interrupt.
  • Ron Friedman says you’re probably not getting enough sleep; explains how it’s impacting the quality of your work; and then tells you what to do about it.
  • Nick Pisano weighs in on Net Neutrality, the economics of controlling access to information, and the demands of the powerful interests who want that control.

Enjoy!

Selecting Means of Communication

Master Kan“Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced.” — Master Kan (Philip Ahn), “Kung Fu”

I’ve seen a lot of different estimates of the amount of time a project manager spends on communication, but I’ve never seen an estimate below 70%.  So if we’re going to be interacting with others for most of our working day, we might benefit from a rubric for selecting our means of communication for maximum efficiency.

A rubric is used to assess a performance task, but it can also be used to determine the best approach for performing the task.  The table below describes a rubric for assessing planned communications.  Each element is associated with criteria, which correspond to numeric values.  Communication tasks with lower totals benefits from use of one-to-one communications, whereas somewhat higher totals benefit from one-to-many communications, such as Tweets or Email.  The highest totals benefit from many-to-many interactions, such as conference calls or in-person meetings.

3 2 1
Number in the Audience Many A few One
Proximity of the audience Distant In between Close
Physical distribution Widely distributed In between Co-located
Need for audience interaction High Moderate Low
Familiar with subject matter Yes Somewhat No
Potential for emotional reaction Low Moderate High
Complexity of subject matter High Moderate Low
Need for immediate response Low Moderate High

The goal of communication planning should be not to reduce the amount of time spent communicating, but to making planned communications as efficient as possible. Analysis by rubric can be very useful in preparing our project communication plans.  To paraphrase Master Kan: Speak face to face, rather than by telephone.  Telephone, rather than Instant Message.  IM, rather than Tweet.  Tweet, rather than Email.  Email, rather than schedule a conference call.  Conference, rather than schedule a meeting.  For everyone’s time is precious, and their attention and participation should not be wasted.
Dilbert Meetings a Waste of Time
I’d appreciate your thoughts on the rubric elements and criteria – I’m pretty sure my first pass can be improved.  Leave a comment below and let’s collaborate on it!

A Dilbert Project Management Montage

I don’t know who assembled this series of Dilbert project management clips into a five minute video, but George Carr posted it on YouTube, and it’s priceless.  Yes, it’s safe for work.  Even your pointy-haired boss will enjoy it.

I need to find a way to work the phrase “widespread despondency and self-mutilation” into a work conversation.  That, and “fifteen drunken monkeys with a jigsaw puzzle.”