New PM Articles for the Week of September 19 – 25

New project management articles published on the web during the week of September 19 – 25. And this week’s video: psychologist Shawn Achor argues that happiness inspires productivity. Just 12 minutes, safe for work, but people will crowd around to see why you’re laughing uncontrollably.

Must read!

  • Mike Clayton describes Kurt Lewin’s Freeze Phases model of organizational change, which is predicated on the notion of driving forces and restraining forces.
  • Esther Derby collates a list of questions that could lead to more effective organizational change, if they were only asked.
  • Ryan Avent scans past the disruptive trends of automation replacing humans to ask the question: what will a world without work be like and how can we make it livable?

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin celebrates ten years of blogging by following up on the best articles from each of those years (and the most popular so far from 2016).
  • Harry Hall tutors us on the management reserve for project budgets.
  • Shuba Kathikeyan summarizes the steps in project cost management, and recommends several good practices for project managers.
  • John Goodpasture makes the counter-case: measuring everything may be more detrimental than no measurements at all.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Dave Davis on achieving benefits realization management. Just 43 minutes, safe for work.
  • Brian Livingston describes good, bad, and ugly results of project closeout.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of new articles and posts on Agile topics, from people and teams to frameworks and products.
  • Henny Portman reviews The Lean Machine, which describes how Harley-Davidson adopted lean product development.
  • Joel Bancroft-Connors and his gorilla, Hogarth, explain that Agile coaches are like vampires: they have to be invited in.
  • Christian van Stom describes the motivational retrospective, as way to not just refine a process but develop a desirable culture.
  • Dave Prior interviews Agile Manifesto signer Alistair Cockburn in a long (79 minutes), wide-ranging conversation on consulting, Agile, and lifestyle. Safe for work.

Applied Leadership

  • Kent Lefner makes a table of the top ten reasons projects fail from a study by PWC and includes key indicators and considerations for each.
  • The Clever PM makes the practical case for limiting the choices we present to both our teams and the executives.
  • Elizabeth McCormick describes the venerable concept of a Mastermind and explains what you can get from being a party to one.
  • Art Petty lays out five ways we can productive work with people we actively dislike.

Technology and Techniques

  • James Kobelius explains how to apply industrial-style discipline to the development of business analytics.
  • Kupe Kupersmith describes Lean Business Analysis, and a way to reduce waste in getting to decisions.
  • Nicholas Malahosky details twelve ways to improve cross-office collaboration.

Working and the Workplace

  • Bertrand Duperrin looks at a modern torture we inflict on ourselves: the notifications from our devices that interrupt us dozens of times a day.
  • Coert Visser examines deep work, (self-) interruptions and attention residue, and the positive impact of brief breaks.
  • Lisette Sutherland wonders whether it’s time for a digital vacation. Less than eight minutes, safe for work, even if you’ve already set up your out of office message.
  • Brendan Toner revisits his task management review for the new version: Droptask2.0.

Enjoy!

New PM Articles for the Week of July 18 – 24

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 18 – 24. And this week’s video: the maiden flight of Aquila, Facebook’s solar-powered unmanned aircraft, designed to bring internet connectivity to the rest of the world. Just three minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Harry Hall describes several responses that project managers might make to respond to stakeholder conflict – not all of them good.
  • Paul Culmsee and his kids prepared a four-minute video they call “A TEDdy Talk,” explaining his new book with Kailash Awati, “The Heretic’s Guide to Management.” Safe for work.
  • PMI announced that the PMBOK Guide-Sixth Edition, with extended coverage of Agile methods, and a practice guide focused on Agile will be released during the third quarter of 2017.

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin makes the argument that contributions to organizational strategic goals are a more useful project metric than alignment with those strategic goals.
  • Stuart Easton describes the annual project budgeting process as a “beauty parade,” and challenges the PMO to define value.
  • Priyanka Chakraborty reports that IT project failure rates are essentially unchanged from three years ago. If we can’t be good, let’s at least be predictable?
  • John Goodpasture expands on a quote from Tony Hoare to explore the inductive nature of software testing.
  • PMI has made their Pulse of the Profession 2016 report available for download. Title: “Delivering Value: Focus on benefits during project execution.”
  • Mike Griffiths models the business case for when software development outsourcing makes sense.
  • Glen Alleman shares his reading list of systems engineering textbooks.
  • Keith Foote gives us a primer on Big Data and cloud security.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman posted a two-part series on how to get to a frictionless release. Here’s part 2.
  • Dave Prior interviews Liana Dore, Agile Governance lead for eVestment, on the Agile PMO. Just 26 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mike Cohn addresses the question posed by the #NoProjects folks.
  • Lance Knight recounts a tale of two Scrum teams: one with a ScrumMaster who understood team dynamics, and one … well, you get the idea.
  • Natalie Warnert notes that even software teams grieve at the end of their projects.

Applied Leadership

  • David Robins offers some thoughts on managing remote workers, from processes and tools to characteristics of people who can and cannot work well remotely.
  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews former HR executive Larry Solomon on his new book, “Translate, Motivate, Activate: A Leader’s Guide to Mobilizing Change.”
  • Michael Lopp announces coming release of the third edition of “Managing Humans.”
  • Bas de Baat lists the actions needed to get a team “in the zone.”

Working and the Workplace

  • Microsoft announced the Microsoft Professional Degree program, “A university caliber curriculum for professionals at any stage in their career.”
  • Kristin Hillery collected ideas on maintaining work-life balance from a number of folks who work from offices in their home.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Jane Anderson on using LinkedIn to build your personal brand. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Suzanne Lucas briefs us on compliance with the new overtime regulations here in the US.
  • Steven Pressfield lists ten classic books on productivity, old and new.

Enjoy!

Everything as a Service

Service StationI spend a lot of my time as a contract project manager mediating disputes between users of technology, such as the HR and finance departments, and the information technology folks. Now, you might think that these disputes have their roots in the different terminology and buzz words each group uses, but generally, they understand each other well enough. The problems arise from a difference in values: the functional experts want capabilities, and the IT folks want control. Functional leaders are focused on their business goals, while IT management wants to talk about process, tools, methods, and a lot of other non-revenue generating stuff.

Note that this misunderstanding is not because either group is at fault. They simply have different values. A lot of us IT geeks subscribe to the values in the Agile Manifesto, and we think they are so self-evident that everyone should embrace them, too. But the people responsible for repeating business-critical activities on a calendar schedule, like paying employees and creditors and reporting to governmental agencies, while absorbing the most recent acquisition or expansion, have other values.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

I work with a lot of global firms, constructed from mergers and acquisitions, and they all have a maze of solutions, cobbled together with a range of tools and technologies. And while the IT folks want to buy better tools, the business folks just want to be able to get back to work. Integrate the merged workforce, share information, pursue opportunities, manage risks, and comply with all of those governmental and contractual requirements. Usually in just about that order of importance.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Business users don’t want tools, or even software – they want services. They want to consume functionality the same way they do electricity, paying a monthly invoice based on utilization. They want it to work every time, although it’s certainly nice if the service improves over time, and even better if they have a voice in how it evolves. But they generally don’t want to participate in the hard work of design, development, and testing. They don’t want to buy a wood shop; they want furniture delivered to their door. Meanwhile, the IT geeks want to talk about product owners and features and delivering in increments.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

As I write this, Workday is upgrading everyone – all 900 or so corporate customers – to release 25. All the users logged out on Friday, and on Monday morning, they will log back in again. No IT departments will have to work all weekend. It will all just work, because it’s not software; it’s a service. And while the IT folks might have to make some tweaks to their integrations with other systems, or adjust a few custom reports with complex calculated fields, they’ve had at least six weeks to regression test and sort it out. And they’ll have six months to plan for the next non-event.

Responding to change over following a plan

Software-as-a-service, platforms-as-a-service, EMail-as-a-service, even identity management and single-sign-on-as-a-service. I’m not going to tell you that premises-based ERP is dead, or even in danger, but unless the IT department can figure out how to deliver services, rather than features, it will be difficult to get the funds to do the next major upgrade. The business folks will likely push for replacing that highly-customized, out of date software with a service. Before you try to argue with them, try to understand their values. To do anything less would be to do them a disservice.