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.”


New PM Articles for the Week of January 2 – 8

New project management articles published on the web during the week of January 2 – 8. And this week’s video: Brooke Deterline talks about creating ethical cultures in business. Just eight minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Andy Kaufman asks several project management influencers, what was the most important lesson you learned last year? Just 40 minutes, safe for work.
  • Eamonn McGuinness describes a structured model for adapting your leadership approach to the situation.
  • Ryan Ogilvie expounds on continual service improvement, and the principle of learning by (and while) doing and continually improving while being transparent and inclusive.

Established Methods

  • Mary Shacklett provides examples of how critical thinking (or the lack thereof) can impact a project.
  • Elise Stevens explains how to deal with irrational stakeholders. Or at least, those brief periods where the rationality of their position is less than clear.
  • Rachel Burger identifies the five biggest project management trends of 2017.
  • Shuba Kathikeyan links us to six free online resources to learn about ITIL. But as Rob England reports, the number of folks taking the ITIL exam is shrinking.
  • Amber Lee Dennis has compiled a primer on the Data Warehouse. Well worth reading, even if you’ve been around a while.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from Agile at scale to Hybrid Agile, to principles of Emergent Organizations.
  • Dave Prior interviews Michael Daly and Matt Volpe on how they’re making Agile work at Major League Baseball (not playing; Advanced Media). Just 50 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Joy Beatty on scaled Agile in the Large Enterprise. Just 31 minutes, safe for work.
  • Glen Alleman contemplates Scrum roles in the context of accountability and responsibility in the presence of a governance framework that extends beyond the team.
  • Craig Smith and Tony Ponton interview Betty Enyonam Kumahor on the practice of Frugal Innovation in Africa. Just 27 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Parkin demonstrates how to assess user stories using the definition of done and the SMART criteria.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty explores former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink’s mantra, “Discipline equals freedom.”
  • Grace Windsor lists five New Year’s resolutions to not make and five alternatives that we should try, instead.
  • Johanna Rothman reflects on the failure of Holocracy at Zappos and the way we naturally develop relationships.
  • Karen McGraw writes about the “Bad boss experience,” as a starting point for becoming a good boss.
  • Andy Wolber shows how to make your IT project portfolio more understandable to your customers by grouping them into start, switch, and stop.

Working and the Workplace

  • Lisette Sutherland samples answers from various interviewees on the question she always asks: What does your virtual office look like? Just 23 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elizabeth Harrin tells of her adoption of a “transitions” strategy at the end of her work day. Ah, the things you learn from being a Mum …
  • Jeff Wise reviews the science behind changing our habits, and thus our lives.
  • Coert Visser reflects on moments of spontaneous progress, as opposed to the stuff we work so hard to achieve.
  • Jessica Meher recounts the realization that holding back, not speaking up, was just being selfish. Leadership requires confidence.
  • Jennifer Aldrich shares her list of questions to ask when considering a job offer from a start-up (or from established companies).


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.