New PM Articles for the Week of July 9 – 15

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 9 – 15. And this week’s video: Cy Swan, still working as a blacksmith and knifemaker at 81, celebrates Independence Day by blasting an anvil into the air, at a pair of hovering drones as they film the whole thing. Yeah … 3 minutes, safe for work, and no anvils were harmed in the making of this video.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Dave Gershgorn reports on the push by Microsoft for Congress to regulate how facial recognition technology is used, based on potential human rights risks. 2 minutes to read.
  • Richard Fall reports on the evidence of bias in the proprietary algorithms in COMPAS, a program used by judges that recommends criminal sentences. 3 minutes to read.
  • Dipayan Ghosh gives us the executive summary of California’s new data privacy law. 4 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • John Goodpasture shares a response from one of his students to the change management question, how would you prepare an organization to take on Agile methods? 2 minutes to read.
  • Robert Wysocki describes a comprehensive model of project management called the Scope Triangle. 4 minutes to read, part 1 of 2.
  • Glen Jones explores the selection of KPIs for executive oversight. Here is part 2. 6 minutes to read both parts.
  • Kiron Bondale notes the perils of expressing resource availability as a percentage. 2 minutes to read.
  • Nat Schatz recommends additional due diligence for efficient consolidation of project resources and processes after a merger or acquisition. 12 minutes to read.
  • Mike Clayton explains the meaning of education contact hours and PDUs, as used in the PMI credentialing process. 8 minutes to read.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his list of Agile content, from changing corporate culture to product prioritization to whether Scrum is iterative or incremental. 7 outbound links, 2 minutes to read.
  • Chitra Manoj presents a case study that demonstrates the value of a gap analysis in a project to implement an off-the-shelf replacement for an existing financial system. 3 minutes to read.
  • Svetozar Krunic explains lead scoring, a user behavior metric valued by marketers. 4 minutes to read.
  • Justin Rohrman describes a definition of “done” for development completed by a small team with no real hand-offs. 6 minutes to read.
  • Claire Reckless gives her detailed answer to a simple question: What is software testing? You can’t manage what you don’t understand. 10 minutes to read.
  • Steven Sinofsky points out the bear traps in implementing API connections to other systems from your enterprise system. 12 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Alexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from making sure your goals have impact to not believing your own BS to the need for better governance. 3 minutes to read.
  • Johanna Rothman posts two parts on objectives and key results (OKR) and how that translates to accountability, versus fostering responsibility and autonomy. 7 minutes to read both, here’s part 2.
  • Cesar Abeid interviews Jason Evanish on the importance of using 1 on 1 meetings in growing your team members. Podcast, 36 minutes, safe for work.

Research and Insights

  • Greg Satell reports on recent progress in the war against synthetic identities used to defraud financial institutions. 5 minutes to read.
  • Tom Merritt suggest five alternatives for making your web browsing more secure. Read or video, both 2 minutes.
  • Polina Aronson and Judith Duportail examine the starkly different empathic responses of two different AI conversational agents: one programmed in the US and one in Russia. 12 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Emily Esposito recaps the key points from Daniel Pink’s new book, When: The scientific secrets of perfect timing. 3 minutes to read.
  • Benjamin Spall distills lessons learned from talking to over 300 successful people about their morning routines. 4 minutes to read.
  • Michael Lopp shares his practices for managing his browser, phone, Email, and life. 5 minutes to read.
  • Alyse Kalish explains why everyone should have a professional headshot handy. 2 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.

New PM Articles for the Week of June 18 – 24

New project management articles published on the web during the week of June 18 – 24. And this week’s video: über-nerd Adam Savage builds a 1,000 shot NERF-blaster. In one day. And tests it against three dinosaurs. 37 minutes, safe for work. The NERF-blaster … yeah, leave that at home.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Andy Heikkila warns that the Atlanta ransomware attack is a harbinger of “Fire Sale” cyber attacks. 5 minutes to read.
  • Steve Denning examines the ten “Agile Axioms” that still make executives nervous. Note that none of the five largest and fastest-growing firms in the world existed prior to 1975 and three were founded less than 25 years ago. 10 minutes to read.
  • Renee Troughton analyzes why scaled Agile approaches keep falling short of executive expectations. 10 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • Henny Portman reviews Jack Duggal’s new book, The DNA of Execution Strategy. This looks like a must-read for project portfolio managers. 5 minutes to read.
  • Satya Narayan Dash tutors us on some critical concepts: Critical Path, Criticality Analysis, and Criticality Index. 8 minutes to read.
  • Mike Clayton explains the concept of Critical Chain, as developed by Elihu Goldratt. Video, 7 minutes, safe for work.
  • Kiron Bondale points out the possible pitfalls of posting information radiators, from inaccuracy to a lack of context. 2 minutes to read.
  • Laura Barnard continues her series on the PMO leader mindset with an article on instilling focus. 9 minutes to read.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reports from the PMO Conference 2018 in London. Includes a video, six and a half minutes, safe for work.
  • Kerry Wills asserts the need for projects, project management competencies, and PMO functions in a Scaled Agile environment. 2 minutes to read.
  • Cesar Abeid and Traci Duez interview Rick Morris on the need to develop our influencing skills. Podcast, 46 minutes, safe for work.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his list of Agile content, from business agility to re-thinking the corporate budgeting process to how to say ‘No.’ 7 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • John Ferguson Smart explains Behavior Driven Development, in the context of Agile methods and a DevOps culture. 3 minutes to read.
  • Simon Schrijver debunks the claim that tests are useless if they don’t fail. 2 minutes to read.
  • Matt Heusser tutors us on Cyclomatic Complexity, a tool to identify candidates for refactoring. Useful for project managers with some background in writing code. 3 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • SaladAlexander Maasik curates his weekly list of leadership articles, from start-up company lessons learned to the value-add of an OKR Champion to learning “how to sit quietly in a room alone.” 5 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • Suzanne Lucas interviews Dr. Lori Whatley on what to say (and what not to say) when an employee seems to be depressed. 4 minutes to read.
  • Ben Mackie shares some tips to improve the value you get from 1-on-1 meetings. 4 minutes to read.

Research and Insights

  • John Goodpasture begins a series on Prospect Theory, an approach to decision making under conditions of risk developed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. 4 minutes to read.
  • Olga Grinina reminds us that training AI from data based on human decisions will incorporate human biases. Perhaps we need to make the machine-generated algorithms more visible. 4 minutes to read.
  • Paul Axtel cites recent research indicating that the most productive meetings have fewer than 8 people. 2 minutes to read.
  • Lila MacLellan reports that a study of hangry, the condition of being hungry, irritable, and angry all at the same time, isn’t just about blood sugar. 4 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Poornima Vijayshankar and Holly Cardew return to discuss what a remote team needs to be successful when working on a mission-critical project. 2 minutes to read, plus a 9-minute video, safe for work.
  • Garland Coulson shares an infographic that can help you determine the best way to deal with each task in your inbox. 4 minutes to read.
  • Kayla Matthews lists some of the reasons to have a green office and some of the ways to pursue that sort of sustainability. 3 minutes to read.

Enjoy!