New PM Articles for the Week of August 7 – 13

New project management articles published on the web during the week of August 7 – 13. And this week’s video: Harry Hall explains how to identify, evaluate, engage, and influence your project stakeholders. Just 9 minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Suzanne Lucas recaps recent events at Google, following the outing and firing of James Damor. Not surprisingly, Googlers are now afraid of being outed and fired. 3 minutes to read.
  • Andreas Sandre rounds up some rankings and statistics on gender and racial diversity among large technology companies. 3 minutes to read and well worth the time.
  • John Goodpasture reacts to John Kao’s auteur model of innovation, pointing out that the most successful innovation auteur was the late Steve Jobs. 2 minutes to read.

Established Methods

  • Pat Weaver observes that there is more to project success than benefits realization and meeting initial cost and schedule targets. 4 minutes to read.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews William Davis, creator of Excel-based Statistical Pert, who explains the difference between predicting and forecasting. 4 minutes to read.
  • Leigh Espy describes the project sponsor role and explains what to do when you have a weak sponsor. 6 minutes to read.
  • Lew Sauder recounts an anecdote that illustrates the fine line between giving the project sponsor too much information and not enough. 3 minutes to read.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Sabina Janstrom on the importance of stakeholder engagement to project portfolio management. Podcast, 20 minutes, safe for work.
  • Nick Pisano examines the failures of project management that can only result in an inadequate form of project monitoring. 15 minutes or so to read.
  • John McIntyre advises PMO leaders to ignore Waterfall vs. Agile and other false dichotomies in favor of choosing the best methods and tools for each project. 4 minutes to read.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from cultural revolutions to scaling autonomous teams, to high-performance teams. 11 outbound links, 3 minutes to browse.
  • Rich Mironov recommends we abandon the generic “user” and “customer” in favor of more specific role identities. And he goes off on a good rant, too. 5 minutes to read.
  • Johanna Rothman identifies progress measurements that can be effective at the program level.
  • Atul Sinha explores the parameters of a “definition of ready” for a user story. 2 minutes to read.
  • Henny Portman summarizes a new book by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, “Lean UX – Designing Great Products with Agile Teams.” 3 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • The Clever PM explains why silence works in facilitating communication, how to use it effectively, and how to combine it with active listening. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kara Swisher hosts “Built for Growth” authors Chris Kuenne and John Danner on becoming a great entrepreneur. Podcast, 56 minutes, mostly safe for work.
  • Bertrand Duperrin notes that successful transformation projects require that we expose the corporate culture to change. 3 minutes to read.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Ryan Ogilvie points out the software asset management selling points that will appeal to executive decision makers. 3 minutes to read.
  • Russell Brandom reports on the current, weakened state of two-factor authentication. “In 2017, just having two-factor is no longer enough.” 8 minutes to read.
  • Conner Forrest reports that Bill Burr, who wrote the NIST guidelines for password standards, “regrets” that advice. Good news: there’s an update available. 2 minutes to read.
  • Kamesh Ganeson explains ISO 22301, a widely-used standard for business continuity management. 4 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Rebecca Collins notes that 79% of knowledge workers work from home, and offers some suggestions on facilitating their success. 3 minutes to read.
  • Lisette Sutherland interviews Nenad Maljkovic on permaculture and designing sustainable remote systems. Podcast, 35 minutes, safe for work.
  • Thomas Oppong gives us a pep talk: stop managing your time and start owning it, through time boxing, the Pomodoro Technique, prioritizing, and just saying no. 5 minutes to read.

Enjoy!

The Internet of (Human) Things and other Siri-ous Issues

“I need your FM voice.” My wife says I sound like the announcer on a classical music station. The problem is, Lien sounds like a Taiwanese woman speaking English, which she mostly learned as an adult. Siri mangles half of what she says, and it annoys her beyond depiction. My reaction would be to not speak to that wretched Apple faux person at all, but Lien expects that things should work as advertised. Her solution: she composes a message, recites it to me, and then holds her iPhone up to my face so I can repeat it in my dulcet tones. Pointing out to her that using the keyboard would be faster only exacerbates her annoyance. So I help her overcome one more twenty-first century, First World problem caused by the overreach of consumer technology. Which brings me to the Internet of Things.

Useless Cases

An article by Paul Sawyers in VentureBeat last year reported on funding secured by San Francisco-based June, which is developing a Smart Oven. I won’t bore you with the feature set – instead, I’ll just ask: How much baking goes on in your household? Based on that, how much usage would you get from an Internet-connected gadget which inspected whatever you plopped in the oven, determined what you were cooking, and adjusted the temperature accordingly? Isn’t this why God created thermostats for regulating oven temperature, which recipes invariably stipulate? Perhaps someone smarter than me can explain the use case for this “solution.”

That Looked Better on Jeri Ryan

CosFailThat oddity aside, there are a lot of incredibly valuable applications for placing passive RFID tags on newly manufactured products so they can self-report their presence. It simplifies everything from preventing inventory shrinkage to check-out (bar codes are so 20th century). So, do we want to use human-implanted RFID chips to authenticate identity? This is a thing, at least in small number. A recent article about RFID implants in Australia makes it seem like a silly fad, but the number of available applications for the technology is impressive. And as more phishing attacks expose more of our personal data, the allure of an identification that can’t be spoofed is undeniable.

Useful Cases

Over the last few years, the IRS has detected a number of fraudulent tax returns submitted electronically, with W-2 forms apparently retrieved by providing minimal information, such as SSN and birth date. If you had an implant with a very long unique identifier that could be read by your phone or other device and validated by some central database, would you feel more or less secure? How about if it could be read by any pocket-sized harvester? Well, would you like your device to generate a complementary key based on your fingerprint that would combine with your RFID tag to uniquely identify you? At what level would you feel secure about being an internet “thing?”

Scenario: Imagine you are working in a hospital emergency room. An ambulance brought in a patient who is unresponsive. Fortunately, her RFID tag was read on the way in, and her records – from medical history to address, next of kin, and insurance coverage – have already been retrieved. But the other victim in the accident lost his arm, where the tag was implanted. He’s bleeding out, and you have to collect his identification the old-fashioned way in order to treat him. While this seems extreme, it’s not unrealistic. An embedded RFID tag might be the difference between life and death.

You Knew This Would Be About Ethics, Right?

As project managers, we’re going to be asked to manage a lot of projects that will be done because they are possible, or because they solve another twenty-first century, First World problem. We need to accept responsibility for being not just the agent of the sponsor but the agent and voice of society. We have to be prepared to point out flaws and even talk powerful people out of their pet projects. If someone had been the voice of reason in 1945, saying, “The war is almost over, and this nuclear Genie should be left in the bottle,” would the world be a safer place? On the other hand, we have a responsibility to support the development of technologies that can save lives, even if they seem a bit creepy to us.

Siri and Alexa are just the beginning. From autonomous vehicles to next-generation biometric authentication, we are changing the way humans interact with the world. You might never find yourself in a position to influence the future. But if you do, don’t hesitate to speak out. Don’t wait for the Law of Unintended Consequences to catch up with our innovations.

New PM Articles for the Week of May 15 – 21

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 15 – 21. And this week’s video: a short clip from “Mr. Blandings Build His Dream House,” where Cary Grant learns what happens when you make a decision when you don’t understand the alternatives and don’t bother to ask for clarification. Just a minute, safe for work, as long as you aren’t standing under the lintels.

Must read!

  • Bertrand Duperrin casts a critical eye on ROI, business cases, and lying with numbers.
  • Martin Seligman and John Tierney report on recent research that indicates the human mind is built to spend a lot of time considering the future—planning if you will.
  • Ian Whittington explores the history of managing complexity in projects from the Iron Bridge constructed in the 18th century to today’s software systems with emergent behaviors.

Established Methods

  • Glen Alleman explains measures of effectiveness and measures of performance as different points of view when examining a proposed product capability.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy digs into the details to tutor us on managing stakeholder engagement, in a strategic way.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews Kate Morris—convener of the PMI Australia Conference 2017 and practicing project manager—on managing a project manager’s conference.
  • Michel Dion outlines the project closure report.
  • Mike Clayton explains the Project Goal, a simple concept with profound implications. Just over two minutes, safe for work.
  • Harry Hall suggests some effective ways to improve our communication skills.
  • Elise Stevens shares lessons learned from alienating a key stakeholder in their first meeting.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his list of Agile content with a focus this week on team building, plus observations on the relationship between product discovery and product delivery.
  • Mike Cohn describe four possible career paths for the accomplished Scrum master.
  • Eli Woolery recaps five key insights gained from the inaugural Design Leadership Camp.
  • The Clever PM conducts one of his “ten questions” interviews with Paul Jackson—product manager, user-centered design practitioner, and newsletter publisher.
  • Renee Troughton describes the three patterns she has seen used for Agile delivery pipeline management at scale.

Applied Leadership

  • Jeff Collins lists a half-dozen qualities of strong project leaders.
  • Pat Weaver describes practical wisdom, “working out the right way to do the right thing in a particular circumstance.”
  • Krister Ungerboeck reflects on the toxic legacy of Steve Jobs and his “wretched asshole” leadership style.
  • Alex Puscasu describes Connie Gersick’s punctuated equilibrium model of group development. There’s more than just forming-storming-norming-performing-adjourning.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • John Goodpasture points out the complexity that is inevitably required to enable simplicity.
  • James Sanders shares the smart person’s guide to ransomware.
  • Paramita Ghosh lays out the currently expected use cases for artificial intelligence.

Working and the Workplace

  • Art Petty critiques IBM recent announcement that it is ending remote working arrangements.
  • Grace Windsor reminds us that until recently, leisure time was a marker of success. Then we decided that constant busyness indicated professionalism.
  • Tom McFarlin reflects on managing the tension between work and vacation. As my Dad used to say, “You don’t own the business; the business owns you.”

Enjoy!