New PM Articles for the Week of August 12 – 18

New project management articles published on the web during the week of August 12 – 18.  We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to!  Recommended:

  • Tim Lister and Tom DeMarco have published the third edition of their classic, “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams.”  Here’s an excerpt.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Pernille Eskerod and Anna Lund Jepsen’s book, “Project Stakeholder Management.”
  • Craig Brown reports from the second LAST conference, including lessons learned.
  • Derek Huether shares a quote from Dennis Stevens, delivered at the Agile 2013 conference.
  • Samad Aidane interviews Cornelius Fichtner on how to achieve the PMI-ACP credential.
  • Glen Alleman identifies the real root cause of IT project failure: failing to base all budgeting on the desired capabilities.
  • Mike Griffiths gives his take on the methodology wars.
  • Kailash Awati consider how a decision support system is used in Cricket, and by extension, how they should be used in business.
  • Bertrand Duperrin considers two approaches to designing a digital workplace.
  • Shim Marom examines the recent Queensland Health payroll project mega-failure, and suggests it might be about escalation of commitment.
  • Kevin Korterud has some tips for your first global project.
  • Kenneth Darter shares some tips for crafting a useful project charter.
  • Andy Jordan looks at strategies for requirements management.
  • Scott Berkun explains how to manage multiple stakeholders.
  • Martin Webster notes that there is more than one approach to building relationships at work.
  • Bernardine Douglas hits the high points of recovering troubled projects.
  • Bruce Benson explains why we should plan to fail.  Also known as planning for contingencies, in case you thought he was kidding.
  • Kerry Wills and his brother climbed Mount Washington, and found a metaphor for project management.  Wonder who dropped it?


For Selfish Reasons

Earlier this year, I made the decision to upgrade my “functional credential” to the Global Professional in Human Resources, and upgrade / supplement my PMP with PMI-ACP.  I passed the GPHR exam yesterday, and in a couple of weeks, the HR Certification Institute will be sending me something to frame.  I’ll start wading through Mike Griffith’s book, “PMI-ACP Exam Prep,” after I catch up on my sleep.  But before I do, I wanted to capture some thoughts about why I’m doing this.

Last month, I wrote about the GPHR exam prep class I attended in Seattle.  As I noted at the time, I was in a room with two dozen heavy hitters.  We spent three days preparing for the exam by reviewing everything from financial models for expatriate compensation, to sociological models of cultures, to workforce development models, to relevant legislation in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, the EU, India, China, and Brazil.  We considered multiple models for building and managing businesses across borders, and went into details on a dozen or so organizations from the WTO to the ILO that lead thinking and practice in that space.  We even looked at key aspects of project management, risk management, team building, and collaboration in multicultural groups.  As someone mentioned in class, it felt like a three day MBA program.

The HR Certification Institute reports that there were 2,888 GPHR credential holders as of August, 2012, out of a population of 127,439 HR credential holders.  As you might expect from the range of subject matter, the exam is extraordinarily difficult.  HRCI offers the exam in two windows, spring and fall.  The average pass rate in the last four exam cycles has been 55%.  When I took the exam yesterday, even after 100+ hours of preparation and well over a decade of professional experience in this specialty, they still stumped me on a few questions.  It was the intellectual equivalent of an Iron Man Triathlon, and I survived.  And then went home and slept for four hours.

Earlier this week, Mike Griffiths did a “state of the credential” review of the PMI-ACP.  He notes that there are now around 2,600 credential holders, out of a PMI credential total of half a million or so.  The number of credentialed Agile practitioners is growing at a much faster rate than earlier PMI credentials exhibited at their introduction, with lots more room to grow; Mike explores some of the market drivers in his article.  But because the PMI-ACP is based on material from eleven primary sources, and covers elements of all of the major Agile frameworks and methods, it’s not an easy exam to prepare for.  I imagine the actual exam will be a bear.  I doubt the credential numbers will ever approach that of the PMP.

So, why go through all of this?  Certainly not for career advancement. is a job board aggregator, so any keyword search results you see are likely to include a lot of duplicates.  The 157 hits I got for GPHR probably equates to around 40 actual jobs; the 125 hits for PMI-ACP might be a little over 30.  But these aren’t credentials you pursue to qualify for a job; Hell, you have to be well established in your career to even sit for them.  No, these credentials are career capstones.  We pursue them for selfish reasons; for our own gratification.  We put them on our business cards, not because people will be impressed, but because we can.  Like getting a tattoo after through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, it’s about marking the way the incredibly long, expensive journey has changed you.  Selfish?  You bet.  My wife says she’ll at least confirm that much.  But she’s smiling when she says it.

New PM Articles for the Week of April 15 –21

New project management articles published on the web during the week of April 15 – 21.  Dave and Sandra read all of this stuff so you don’t have to!  Recommended:

  • Vincent McGevna continues his series on project decisions, with an exploration of the pitfalls that arise from our biases.
  • Elizabeth Harrin talks with Dr. Wilhelm Kross about risk communication: how to talk about risk with your stakeholders.
  • The late Steve Jobs gives the best advice on success and failure, ever: “If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”
  • Kenneth Darter provides an overview of the work to be done when a project is canceled.
  • Andy Jordan explores the tasks involved in recovering from project failure.
  • Wayne Grant reminds us that the purpose of retrospectives is to identify corrective actions that will allow continuous improvement.
  • Glen Alleman shares a slide deck by John Goodpasture, “A Sailor’s Look at Agile.”  Which is nothing like Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty.”
  • Project Management Podcast 232 addresses how to prepare for and pass our PMI-ACP exam.
  • Shim Marom has some criticisms for the lack of guidance the PMBOK provides on how to actually implement an earned value management system.
  • Bruce Benson bought a “smart” scale for his bathroom that told him he was “nearing overweight.”  So he re-discovered trend analysis.
  • Kevin Korterud thinks we need better stoplights for our status reports, because three colors aren’t enough.
  • Mark Mullaly looks at governance – good governance and bad governance.
  • Mike Donoghue looks at the contributions to success (and failure) that come from advisory or steering committees.
  • Patrick Richard objects to senior managers putting newbie project managers on projects they plainly aren’t ready for.
  • Joel Bancroft-Connors and Hogarth remind us of Stephen Covey’s dictum, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
  • Johanna Rothman recalls a career-limiting conversation with a boss who said he “knew how long it should take” to do a task.
  • Cheri Baker says that you can trust HR – within certain limits.  After all, you may be part of the problem you need their help to solve.
  • Fred Kofman makes the case for requiring your workers to resolve their own differences, using interest-based negotiation and some ground rules.
  • Donna Reed has shared a one hour presentation (one PDU) by Star Dargin on when to be the coach, the leader, or the manager.
  • Chuck Morton notes that we have to be able to execute reliably before we can plan effectively.
  • Vivek Prakash argues that we need to be able to execute our projects and still upgrade our skills.
  • Kerry Wills briefly addresses the art of being succinct.