Special Mention: Nick Pisano’s Post at AITS

Nick PisanoI normally include references to articles and blog posts in my weekly round-up, but in this case, I wanted to go into more depth than my usual one or two sentences. Nick Pisano’s article at AITS this week looks like the capstone of his argument that IT project failure is less about unknown and unknowable risks than about poor management processes. His analysis runs from Black Swans to Babe Ruth, and from studies by Rand and McKinsey to his previous posts on the physics and economics of software development.

Nick concludes with nine very specific principles that should be the basis of every software development project selection and execution process. His underlying theme: improving the success rate of software projects lies not in the cryptozoology of unforeseeable events, but in the application of modern management techniques and evidence-based decision making. Projects should not be begun without clear objectives and success metrics, and they should be terminated when evidence of impending failure is identified.

It’s a long read, but well worth your time. Great job, Nick.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 13 – 19

Over DinnerNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 13 – 19. Pull up a chair and let’s talk. Our theme this week is applied leadership. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Jeff Furman on the second edition of “The Project Management Answer Book.” Just 35 minutes, safe for work, and well worth your time.
  • Paul Ritchie presents evidence that hiring managers are putting more emphasis on leadership, strategy, and business skills when hiring PM’s.
  • Steven Levy recounts the story of a tour boat operator who had to intervene when one of his guests decided to swim with the alligators. Are you this cool when the unexpected happens?

PM Best Practices

  • Carol Dekker outlines the key steps to a better software development performance measurement program.
  • Michel Dion expounds on monitoring, measuring, and reporting as the core of project governance.
  • Glen Alleman adds more diagrams to his ongoing explanation of the role of estimating in economic analysis.
  • Marco Behler takes a practical approach to improving the accuracy software development estimates.
  • Harry Hall assembled thirty(!) risk evaluation principles while preparing to teach a course on PMI’s Practice Standard for Project Risk Management.
  • John Goodpasture summarizes Tim van Gelder’s description of the elements of critical thinking.
  • Dave Wakeman covers three keys to achieving organizational alignment for your project.
  • Braden Kelly continues his series on applying the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology to drive innovation.
  • Ryan Ogilvie reports from the Calgary Stampede, where not everyone was stampeding toward ITIL. Yes, the conversation was over beer …
  • Kerry Wills follow up on his eight fundamental guiding principles for managing programs with an analysis of what happens when one is missing.
  • Allen Ruddock argues that communications is a key PMO responsibility.
  • Gina Abudi notes that key roles should be defined and people assigned to them, throughout the project.
  • Bruce Harpham continues his series on finding a summer project at work.
  • Joe Caprara thinks it’s a good thing to earn the PMP credential. Just don’t make it the basis for any of your claims.

Agile Methods

  • Michael Dubakov proposes the Minimum Action Energy Principle in user interface design. Yes, physics matters even to software engineers.
  • Johanna Rothman describes the responsibilities commonly assigned to three common roles: product manager, product owner, and business analyst.
  • Kyle Viele experiments with the Candle Problem, as described by Dan Pink, to demonstrate that diverse teams get better results than homogeneous teams.
  • Henny Portman reviews “The Lean Startup,” by Eric Ries. Did you know that this book influenced the development of the PRINCE2 Agile Framework?

 Pot Pouri

  • Elizabeth Harrin lists 15 ways to celebrate success with your team.
  • Mike Cohn encourages us to take a moment to celebrate with our team, even if it’s just by exchanging paper plates.
  • Adam Shostok takes umbrage with the “word nerds.”
  • Seth Godin: “An amateur memorizes. A professional looks for metaphors.”


My Presentation at the CAMP IT Portfolio Management Conference

CAMP IT PresentationOn Friday, I presented my case study, “Getting From 23 to One: Merging Systems after the Mergers” at the CAMP IT Portfolio Management conference here in Las Vegas. The two day conference drew attendees from 15 states and Canada, with titles ranging from Executive Director of Execution and Governance to EPMO and PMO Directors. Many of the folks I met were with public sector organizations and higher education, although there were a lot of corporate types, too.

The case study analyzes the transformation of the HR and Payroll systems portfolio during my tenure at MGM Resorts International, following several intense years of mergers and acquisitions, while constructing three new resorts. I described how we applied a portfolio management approach to aligning with the business strategy, selecting and sequencing projects, managing enterprise risk, and reacting to major events. In addition, I talked about getting and maintaining stakeholder alignment, partnering with the procurement team, and lessons learned. I’ve made the slide deck available for download here.

Dave and Randy at the Coffee TableIf you’re sorry you missed it, organizer Randy Wimmer tells me they expect to repeat next year, here in Las Vegas. CAMP IT conducts conferences throughout the year, on a variety of IT subjects. Note: that enormous pastry on the left is actually a frosted hub cap. I backed away slowly, so it wouldn’t attack.