New PM Articles for the Week of March 28 – April 3

New project management articles published on the web during the week of March 28 – April 3. And this week’s video: Coert Vissar diagrams the difference in motivation between our autonomous choices and those choices made for us. Complete with a slide guitar soundtrack; two minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Johanna Rothman’s new book, “Agile and Lean Program Management,” is now available.
  • Harry Hall shares three brief videos on making and executing better decisions.
  • Nancy Settle-Murphy explains how to get a conversation going by asking the right questions. If you spend much of your working day on conference calls, be sure to read this!

Established Methods

  • Laura Barnard applies some lessons on stakeholder management learned from Fred Rogers.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Julie Goff on managing a team of project managers. Just 16 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elizabeth Harrin shares her recent reading list. What does work-life balance look like? Well, start here.
  • Klaus Nielsen applies lessons from Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking: Fast and Slow” to project management.
  • Dave Wakeman articulates the five steps in putting a new process in place.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Joe Drammissi on Enlightened Project Management. Just 33 minutes, safe for work.
  • Nick Pisoni explains the difference between measuring progress against plan (earned value) and progress during development (technical performance).
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy gets us back to basics in describing what to include in a project plan.
  • Glen Alleman adapts Jon Stewart’s final rant on “The Daily Show” to direct it toward his favorite target, the #NoEstimates movement.

Agile Methods

  • Mishkin Berteig lays out the four principles of refactoring. Sometimes, good software engineering can be a metaphor for life.
  • John Goodpasture introduces the notion of coupling to a discussion of architecture in an Agile approach.
  • The Clever PM (possibly) concludes his series, “Why Agile isn’t working for me.” This time, the focus is on individual actions.
  • Jake Bartlett points out some of the reasons Agile is hard to adopt.

Applied Leadership

  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Ray Zinn, who founded and led semiconductor manufacturer Micrel for 37 years, on key lessons from his new book, “Tough Things First.”
  • Liane Davey shares a simple exercise that exposes each participant’s default reaction to change.
  • Peter Saddington shares a great infographic: 18 Things Mentally Strong People Do.
  • Scott Berkun uses the history of the Eiffel Tower to illustrate what it takes to drive real innovation and see it produce real change.
  • Eileen Burton says that great leaders are those who step up in a crisis.

Pot Pouri

  • Suzanne Lucas says that recruiters are good at spotting lies. Here are a few things that you really don’t need to lie about.
  • Jamie Hale gives us science-based recommendations on how to study. Key point: we best remember that which we best understand.
  • Steve Johnson identifies four “areas of expertise” that should drive what is (and isn’t) required in a job candidate.
  • Paul Sawyers opines on the market viability of an internet of consumer product things. Who needs a smart oven in the microwave society?


Get Ready to Manage an Autonomous Vehicle Project

Google Driverless Car

Google prototype

The same people who funded the research that led to the Internet, the U.S.government, are about to invest $3.9 billion in research on autonomous vehicle development. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appeared at the Detroit Auto Show to announce a budget proposal that will spread the funding over ten years, and “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects.”

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” said Secretary Foxx. And everyone else, since consumer technology developed in the U.S. will be sold all over the world, as it always has been.

Autonomous Tech

Take a moment to think about the technologies that are converging to produce a vehicle which drives itself, reliably and efficiently, safely and affordably. From visual and auditory recognition (not just speech, but sounds) to machine learning, continuous risk assessment and management to efficient route selection. GPS is about navigation; extend that to lane-selection strategy. And then there’s peer-to-peer networking, based on location, direction, and velocity. If debris falls onto the road, nearby cars will caution other vehicles headed toward it, well before they can see it, and alert a specialized vehicle that will automatically remove it, quickly and safely, without interrupting the flow of traffic.

Changing When Things Get Done

Rush hour traffic will be reduced, because more activities will become asynchronous. Cars will top off their own gas tanks while you’re sleeping, schedule their own maintenance, drive to Jiffy Lube, and return. Retail stores and supermarkets will have their stock delivered and gas stations will have their storage tanks topped up off-hours, with no humans involved. Your car will coordinate with the vehicle delivering your groceries, so it arrives at your home at the same time you do. Residential snail mail and package delivery will occur overnight. Airport parking lots will be re-purposed. Uber will need a new business model.

The Opportunities for Project Managers

This isn’t just about auto manufacturers. There will be boundless opportunities for technology project managers who understand these applications and how they will be used by everyone from the military to school districts, trucking firms to fire departments, construction companies to emergency medical services companies. We understand the potential information security issues and how to non-destructively test software-intensive systems. We get the complexities of scheduling, issue and risk management, and reporting progress on developmental systems. We know how to engage stakeholders and deal with compliance across multiple jurisdictions. We understand how the economics, the ethical issues, and the organization’s strategic goals need to drive the decisions we present to our sponsors. This is just an extension of what we’ve been doing for some time now, but the impact of this work will be global.

Someday soon, you may have a chauffeur named Watson. Let’s help him get to work.

I’m Presenting at the CAMPIT Portfolio and Program Management Conference


I’ve been invited to present at the CAMP IT Portfolio / Program Management Conference to be conducted in Las Vegas, June 18 – 19, 2015. I’ll be presenting on our portfolio management approach and lessons learned from my time at MGM Resorts International. When I joined, we had 23 various properties, each with it’s own HR,Payroll, and timekeeping solution. My assignment was to merge them, so we could eventually implement a new ERP.

If you plan to attend, let me know. I’ll load up my Starbucks card and treat whoever shows up and mentions that you read about the event on my blog.