How to Provide an Estimate [snark]

State an estimate as a probability distribution. For this meme: “I estimate an 80% probability of completing in less than 195 minutes and a 20% probability of completing in less than 175 minutes, but the absolute minimum is 170 minutes. I’ll provide an updated estimate in an hour or so. Do you want me to EMail you the assumptions and risk register?”

“Uhhhh … no.” [thinks: WTF did she just say?] “Uh, can you give me that as a single number?”

[stares for a four-count] “The mode was 182 minutes, at 6.3%. Which means there is a 93.7% probability that it won’t take 182 minutes.”

“OK. Yeah. Well, let me know when it’s finished.”


New PM Articles for the Week of May 29 – June 4

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 29 – June 4. And this week’s video: Daniel Kahneman explains how a premortem can help a team overcome thinking bias when making critical decisions.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • Rani Molla links us to Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report, from the slide deck to a video of her delivery. Just 34 minutes, safe for work, and overwhelming to consider all in one sitting.
  • Jonathan Soble reports on Japan’s shrinking and aging population and what it will require to sustain economic growth. We should expect every industrialized nation to face this demographic problem (and business opportunity) by 2040.
  • Adam Shostack reflects on the external and internal reasons that organizations don’t maintain or update their software and notes a few choices for managing them.

Established Methods

  • John Goodpasture presents an interesting bar chart displaying relative priority of key project attributes (he calls them influencers and discriminators) from the client’s perspective.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews Emma Seaton-Smith, who has been nominated for the 2017 Rising Stars award in technology sponsored by the Times of London.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Jordan Kyriakidis, who says that we have the technology to improve the quality of our project requirements. Just 33 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elise Stevens interviews change leader Cassie Kowaltzke on how to exercise strong stakeholder engagement during business transformation. Just over 14 minutes, safe for work.
  • Alexis Devinin tutors us on the preparation of first-cost estimates as used in engineering projects.
  • Glen Alleman deconstructs the #NoEstimates manifesto presented at a recent Agile conference in Nashville, TN.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly round-up of all things Agile, from the necessity of experimentation to the State of Agile report, to why brainstorming sucks as an ideation tool.
  • Mike Cohn lists eight behavior recommendations that might help you become the Scum Master your team needs.
  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on defining “scaling” Agile, with a look at creating Agile product development capabilities.
  • George Pitagorsky notes the commonalities among the various Agile “denominations.”
  • The Clever PM contemplates the balance between agility and strategy.
  • Peter Borsella and Hubert Smits describe “potentially shippable” as it pertains to non-software products.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty contrasts two managers he once worked for at the same time, with two wildly different approaches to decision making.
  • Nancy Settle-Murphy sensitizes us to the problems that can arise from cultural differences in globally distributed teams.
  • Alex Puscasu suggests we encourage functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) conflict and critical debate within our project teams.
  • Mike Clayton explains the Transactional Analysis model of interpersonal communication. Just under six minutes, safe for work.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Rich Maltzman notes the growing trend to repair, re-purpose, and re-use electronic devices as encouraged by a movement called “Restart Parties.”
  • Jay Bennett reports on Moon Express and Rocket Lab’s use of 3D printers to create a booster vehicle and lander for the first Lunar landing by a private company. Target: December 2017.
  • Evan Koblentz explains why so many transaction processing software applications are still written and maintained in COBOL: it just runs faster.

Working and the Workplace

  • Lisette Sutherland interviews writer Sue Thomas on finding the balance between nature and technology. Just 35 minutes, safe for work.
  • Suzanne Lucas highly recommends that you take a lunch break. If not for yourself, then for the sake of the restaurant business.
  • Bertrand Duperrin notes that a focus on the employee experience comes after refinement of the customer experience—and that’s a good thing.


New PM Articles for the Week of September 12 – 18

New project management articles published on the web during the week of September 12 – 18. And this week’s video: applying insights and techniques derived from recent studies on multi-tasking and ego depletion to improve your productivity. Less than four minutes, safe for work. Tip of the hat to Harry Hall, who shared this.

Must read!

  • Henny Portman advocates for positioning Agile methods as changes to “business as usual,” rather than as changes to the way projects are run.
  • Robin Goldsmith describes the process of determining ROI by discovering the requirements that drive business value and quantifying the intangibles.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy lists six practical risk identification techniques that won’t go over the heads of your project team.

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews “The Conscious Project Leader,” by Colin Ellis.
  • Lawrence Putnam lays out the case for an enterprise estimation center of excellence.
  • Glen Alleman pulls together his best responses to common #NoEstimates ideas and assertions into a single post.
  • Jiwat Ram analyzes Project Management as a Service, and finds reasons to hesitate.
  • David Cotgreave shares some tips on how to get your IT project approved by the executive suite.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers posts his weekly compilation of new Agile content, from “dark Scrum” to mental models and three jobs for product managers.
  • Ryan Ripley interviews Jeremy Willets on applying the introspective mindset to fine-tune the effectiveness of your coaching. Just 14 minutes, safe for work.
  • Debashish Ghosh examines the theory and practice of quality assurance in Agile methods.
  • Jake Rocheleau gives us a guided tour of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Get out in front on this, if you’re only compliant with the typical W3C standards.

Applied Leadership

  • Andrew Neitlich provides some pointers on managing the organizational politics that affect your project.
  • Coert Visser describes a strategy for positive communication, based on the reciprocity principle.
  • Liane Davey recommends an approach for preventing a meeting attendee from excessive participation in the conversation. You know: talking too much.
  • Art Petty decries the value-deficient leadership recently displayed at some organizations: win at all costs, ethics be damned. Don’t work for these people, ever.
  • Belle B. Cooper explains the mentoring relationship, why both parties benefit, and how to find your own mentee.
  • Seth Godin asserts that professionals will push back because they have standards.

Technology and Techniques

  • Alex Handy reports from the GitHub Universe conference that project management features are being added to the most widely-used source code management platform.
  • Jay Donovan reports on Kinetise, a platform that creates native apps for iOS and Android using a drag and drop interface. Enterprise “citizen developers” are creating their own apps!
  • Monica Yoo debunks three common myths about security in cloud applications and environments.
  • Bas de Baat gets us up to date on the potential application of AI pattern recognition techniques to some of the more routine project management tasks.

Working and the Workplace

  • Brendan Toner reviews MarginNote Pro, a fantastic iOS app for annotating PDF and eBook documents.
  • Karina Keith curates a list of tips to stay productive when working from home.
  • Suzanne Lucas lists nine gadgets everyone who works from home needs to invest in.