New PM Articles for the Week of July 16 – 22

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 16 – 22. And this week’s video: a quick review of recent changes to Microsoft Visio, followed by a demonstration of how to integrate Visio with Microsoft Project. 26 minutes, safe for work.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Bill Taylor focuses our attention on three reasons why Netflix is successful. And focus is the key word here. 4 minutes to read.
  • Greg Satell revisits the failures of Blockbuster, Kodak, and Xerox. The root cause of each of their failures was not just disruption. 5 minutes to read.
  • Dan Kopf summarizes a report from the OECD on what higher tariffs might mean for economic growth. It’s not all about the retail price of manufactured goods. 2 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • Satya Narayan Dash tutors us on contingency reserve and management reserve. 9 minutes to read.
  • John Goodpasture explains David Hulett’s approach to integrating the risk register and the project plan. 2 minutes to read.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Karlene Agard on value management in mega-projects—reducing cost without reducing value. Podcast, 16 minutes.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy delivers a very detailed mini-course on project stakeholder management, from identification to creating a Register. 16 minutes.
  • Mike Clayton provides detailed instructions on how to get the most from our next “lessons learned” meeting. 12 minutes to read.
  • The folks at Clarizen share their thoughts on milestones—on both good and bad practices. 3 minutes to read.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from Beyond Budgeting to why open floor plans suck to results of the scrum master survey. 7 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • Raffaela Rein describes inclusive design as removing barriers to access for the disabled, from the deaf to the color blind and beyond. 5 minutes to read.
  • Erik Dietrich describes seven types of testing (beyond functional testing) that you should be doing. 5 minutes to read.
  • James Kobelius considers what it might mean to certify an AI product as “safe.” 6 minutes to read.
  • Janelle Shane gives us a practitioner’s view of why artificial narrow intelligence is more achievable than artificial general 5 minutes to read.
  • Alex Aitken questions the predictive value of velocity. 3 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Alexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from fairy tales and fables to accurate data to being compassionate. 5 outbound links, 4 minutes to read.
  • John Yorke explains the concepts exemplified by Herbie, a key character in The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. This is a novel that introduces the Theory of Constraints. 7 minutes to read.
  • Mary Jo Asmus points out some of the upsides to delegating. 2 minutes to read.

Research and Insights

  • Mike Griffiths catalogs some of the AI assistant applications we should look forward to as project managers. 7 minutes to read.
  • Max Steinmetz collates some recent statistics on Agile adoption and results. 3 minutes to read.
  • Alison Coleman previews a new report from PMI: Next Practices: Maximizing the Benefits of Disruptive Technologies on Projects. 5 minutes to read.
  • Oliver Staley reports on a new study from a business school in Madrid which compared formal and automated communication with informal communications at work. 2 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Elizabeth Harrin shares an extract from her excellent new book, Project Manager, which describes three ways to get that first job as a PM. 5 minutes to read.
  • Berta Melder explains why serotonin is important to our happiness and productivity and identifies daily activities that can help us produce more of it. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kerry Wills reminds us to observe a few simple workplace courtesies—like keeping your calendar updated. A minute to read.

Enjoy!

New PM Articles for the Week of July 2 – 8

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 2 – 8. And this week’s video: Bill Gates discusses his pledge of $2 billion for investment in new alternative energy technologies. 3 minutes, safe for work.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • John Detrixhe points out some of the reasons that European “Big Tech” companies are smaller than their US and Asian counterparts. 4 minutes to read or scan the high points.
  • Benjamin Gomes-Casseres examines the apparent death of the “GE model” in the aftermath of that company’s removal from the Dow Jones Industrial index. 4 minutes to read.
  • Peter Diamandis summarizes three ways that technology is making a huge difference in healthcare, from personalized medications to intelligent prevention. 6 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • John Goodpasture notes that schedule slack is your most powerful tool for managing risks and explains why. 2 minutes to read.
  • Rob England follows up on the 20 IT project management dysfunctions he gleefully listed on Twitter. “If only the strong survive your system it’s time you fixed your system.” 3 minutes to read.
  • Michael Wood identifies the challenges inherent in managing projects in a change-resistant culture. 7 minutes to read.
  • Brad Egeland warns us not to let the project become about the technology. 5 minutes to read.
  • Mike Clayton explains the Belbin Team Profile, a widely used team assessment tools. Think of it as roles defined by behavior, useful for diagnosing team dysfunction. Video, 6 minutes, safe for work.
  • Joel Carboni posts another in his occasional series on the characteristics of a sustainable project manager; this time focusing on the PM as an agent of change. 2 minutes to read.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews Bill Dow on the PMO life cycle, including the need to eventually close them down. 3 minutes to read, or watch the video, just over 3 minutes, safe for work.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from scaling Scrum to whether Agile is a cult to Agile organization design. 7 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • Chris Kenst makes the case for including testers in code reviews. 5 minutes to read.
  • Kiron Bondale asks: when a team member leaves and knowledge transfer is required, does it matter whether the team is using Agile methods? 2 minutes to read.
  • Roman Pichler advocates a growth mindset to improve your product management skills. 6 minutes to read.
  • Jennifer Bonine interviews Gene Gotimer on a practitioner’s view of the pervasive role of QA in DevOps. Video, 12 minutes, safe for work.

Applied Leadership

  • Alexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from team goal-setting to why team-building exercises don’t work as well as team nurturing. 5 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • Scott Cochrane says that the way to avoid decision-making disasters is to always know who “holds the key” to the decision. 2 minutes to read.
  • Melody Stone shares some insights into selecting meeting attendees and some behavioral “failure modes.” 4 minutes to read.

Research and Insights

  • Lila McLellan reports on a new study that found open office layouts may make people less productive and change the way they communicate. 3 minutes to read.
  • Andrew Mauboussin and Michael Mauboussin share the results of their research into how people interpret imprecise terms like “likely” and possibly.” 7 minutes to read.
  • Scott Gerber recaps input from the Young Entrepreneur Council on the new technologies that appear ready for widespread use. 4 minutes to read.
  • Teppo Felin reconsiders the “gorilla on the basketball court” experiment: if humans are blind to what is obviously out of place, does that simply mean we are good are focusing our attention? And what does that imply about artificial intelligence? 18 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Suzanne Lucas reflects on the growing gap between biology and social mores in the age of #MeToo. The law isn’t keeping up, so corporate rules need to adapt. Quickly. 7 minutes to read.
  • Alicia Adamczyk notes that requesting help from people with whom we have “weak ties”—not friends or family—can be more effective precisely because they are not like us. 3 minutes to read.
  • Leigh Espy tells us how to build rapport with remote team members. 5 minutes to read.

Enjoy!

Hiring is Part of What a Manager Does

The unemployment rate is below 4% and technical positions are remaining open for up to a year at a time. Hiring managers need to up their game.

My consulting practice consists of human capital management transformation projects, so I spend a lot of my time around HR people. Many HR professionals will tell you they are fighting a “war for talent.” Employee turnover rates are higher and average tenure shorter than at just about any time in history for most organizations, for a variety of reasons. Employees with advanced technical skills are not staying in jobs as long as they used to, and every open position represents an opportunity cost. When the work has to be spread among other employees, the negative effects accumulate quickly. As a result, both recruiting and retention get a lot of attention—except from the managers they work for.

Suzanne Lucas, who writes as The Evil HR Lady for Inc. and number of other publications, recently touted an article by Chip Cutter on the practice of ghosting—job applicants cutting off communication with corporate recruiters and hiring managers. There has always been a fraction of new hires that don’t show up on their first day in retail and restaurant jobs, but this is now a growing phenomenon for technical and white-collar positions, too. Lucas and many other HR practitioners say this is a behavior that the applicants learned from employers, especially hiring managers, during the era of high unemployment. Now, there are more open positions than unemployed workers and the tables have been turned.

Perfection is Over-rated

“I couldn’t pass an audition to join my own band.” Frank Zappa

Every manager wants to hire someone who has exactly the right skills and personality, experience and education, and can hit the ground running. And just about every HR executive complains about managers who won’t choose among the candidates they’ve been presented for open jobs. They point to managers who admit that “This one is perfect,” but they want to see a few more. They forget that outstanding candidates have other opportunities. Unemployment rates in technology are much lower than the rates in the general population, which is now at the lowest point in this century. Even those managers who have successfully “poached” employees from another company underestimate the competition for talent. The hiring manager must be decisive and communicative to be effective.

Understand the Hiring Process in Your Organization

Job ApplicantsMost large employers these days go through an extensive HR-managed process that includes everything from drug testing, credit, and criminal record checks to nondisclosure and IP agreements. Equity grants and other compensation approvals add steps and approvers. This introduces a certain amount of latency, and the longer it takes to get someone on board, the greater the exposure to cold feet. I know of one Silicon Valley employer that had a 10% no-show rate among candidates who had already accepted offers, and that was several years ago. If your organization allows the hiring manager access to the applicant management system, you should monitor the workflow for each requisition, and if necessary, nudge those who have aging actions in their inbox. After you decide on a candidate, maintain contact with that new team member right up until their start date. Keep them informed and feeling wanted, or you might see them snatched away by some other firm.

Make the Landing as Smooth as Possible

Studies have found that the ‘new employee experience’ largely drives tenure. In exit interviews with people who decided to leave their new job in the first six weeks, most organizations hear reasons that amount to ‘disappointment.’ It’s not just onboarding, but fitting in. Excellent teams make a point of getting their new members to feel comfortable asking questions without fear of being judged.  Excellent managers don’t just delegate the new hire experience to a ‘buddy,’ they work to establish a new relationship.

Retention Starts on Arrival

Say what you want about the job-hopping habits of the Millennials: they’re just applying the rules of the modern marketplace. Can you really blame a twenty-something for wanting to develop her resume? The challenge for the manager is to help her develop that resume without leaving. Special projects, additional responsibility, and training aren’t exactly golden handcuffs, but don’t you really want to retain the ones that are engaged? Understand that new hire’s personal goals and make that part of your management plan for them.

Getting to Team Stability

Most managers will tell you that continually re-forming the team as people come and go is a strain on everyone. It helps to engage the group in onboarding and retention. It’s a drag for the new hire to follow someone who was perceived as a valued colleague and trusted friend—no one can match up on the first day. Sensitize your team to the needs of the new starter and enlist them in helping her be successful.

The pace of business picks up a bit more each year. Don’t expend your valuable time as a manager being indecisive, and don’t let someone surprise you with a resignation. As tough as this year looks, next year will be worse, and you won’t like to face it with only half of a team.