New PM Articles for the Week of March 13 – 19

New project management articles published on the web during the week of March 13 – 19. And this week’s video: Julia Galef uses the metaphor of soldiers and scouts to help explain why we think we’re right—even what we’re wrong. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Elizabeth Harrin lists five common failure modes for planning and executing our project schedules, and what we should be doing instead. Bookmark this page!
  • Harry Hall proposes having the team write their own Constitution, or list of shared values, to drive unity and make expected behaviors explicit. Includes another short video.
  • Tamás Török presents a software development practitioner’s guide to code quality, as processes and tools. Brief, comprehensive, actionable, and an apropos panel from XKCD.

Established Methods

  • Mike Clayton posts another video in his Project Management in Under 5 series: this one explains the RACI chart and compares it to the linear responsibility chart. Under 5 minutes, safe for work.
  • William Davis introduces his free Excel template, Statistical PERT. I’ll post a detailed review here in a few days.
  • Glen Alleman reminds us that the customer values process and governance, and thus their notion of value at risk includes those things, even if you think they’re overhead.
  • Nick Pisano makes the case that cost, schedule, and technical achievement are insufficient metrics—we should incorporate sociological and psychological factors.
  • Barry Hodge explains how his company takes a project from proposal to Go document, to execution.
  • Andrew Conrad lists the top five paying industries for those project managers holding the PMP.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly round-up of Agile topics, from the nature of coaching to user stories to the limits of product manager authority.
  • Johanna Rothman posts an extensive series on becoming an Agile Leader. Here are parts 2, 3, and 4.
  • Chris Matts continues his series reflecting on the difference between executive and practitioner visions of Agile methods, in terms of dragon slayers and farmers.
  • Ben Linders summarizes “The Great Scrum Master,” by Zuzana Šochová, in 15 tweets.
  • Romy Misra interviews former Microsoft product manager Erik Kennedy on techniques for effectively working with visual designers.
  • Alok Kumar and Suganthi Subramanian recount their experience in applying Scum to data warehousing environments.

Applied Leadership

  • Tim Clark, the author of “Leading with Character and Competence,” tells the story of the dog who only bites occasionally. Like the boss who is only a tyrant when he’s upset.
  • Leigh Espy reviews “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini. The review was certainly influential—I added it to my Kindle.
  • Gina Abudi begins a series that presents a case study in getting buy-in for a large project.
  • Claire Karjalainen convenes a panel of women in technology to address the question: how can the leadership team empower the women in your company?

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Grace Windsor summarizes some of the common cognitive biases that impact our decision making.
  • Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz report that the busier you are, the more you need quiet time.
  • Coert Visser considers the question: if the Dunning-Kruger effect makes the incompetent feel confident, is confidence indicative of incompetence?

Working and the Workplace

  • Lisette Sutherland extracts dialogs from prior interviews that address how to effectively provide feedback on virtual teams. Just 25 minutes, safe for work.
  • Naomi Caietti reviews the key strategies for leading virtual teams, based on the work of Penn Pullan and Evi Prokopi.
  • Suzanne Lucas reports on the growing trend of “forced praise” in the workplace, from apps like HeyTaco and Growbot to simple excess niceness. It’s not all good.

Enjoy!

The Data Conversion Cycle – Now Available on Amazon.com

My new book, “The Data Conversion Cycle: A guide to migrating transactions and other records, for system implementation teams,” is now available on Amazon.com in both Kindle format for $4.49 and paperback for $6.99. If you buy the paperback version, you can also buy the Kindle version for 99 cents in what Amazon calls “matchbook” pricing.

When asked for the most common sources of problems for software system implementation projects, experienced system implementers and consultants always list data conversion among their top three. Converting from one production record-keeping system to another is a challenge because you not only have a moving target; you also have a moving origin, as records are created and updated each day while the project is in progress. This book expands on a series of blog posts on The Practicing IT Project Manager website. Originally written for my project manager following, I extensively revised the content for a general business audience.

This book was designed to be a resource for project teams comprised of not just project managers and IT specialists, but the people working in the business areas who own and maintain the data records and will use the new systems. The goal was to provide a clear model expressed in a common language for a cross-functional team.
The first six chapters explain data conversion as an iterative process, from defining the scope to mapping source system records to the target system, to extraction and loading, to validation. This methodology works well with Agile methods, especially those involving iterative prototyping. However, it can also be used with more traditional planning-intensive approaches.

I also include a chapter on incorporating data conversion into the project planning process and a chapter on risk management. The risk management chapter starts with the basics and goes into considerable detail in identifying risks applicable to data conversion. The book includes an Appendix with an example output of a risk identification meeting and the types of information to include in a risk register. There is also a chapter on measuring progress when using this iterative approach, and a Glossary.

As always, thanks for reading my stuff.

New PM Articles for the Week of January 9 – 15

New project management articles published on the web during the week of January 9 – 15. And this week’s video: the Jon Spear Band celebrates risk management (sort of) with “The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese.” Just 3:16 of jump blues, safe for work. Turn it up …

Must read!

  • Michael Lopp contemplates the illusion of productivity, the mindset of busy, and (his proposed cure) the Builder’s Mindset. Think of this as an intervention.
  • Liane Davey advises on managing a team that has been tasked with unrealistic targets. Ethical failures at Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, and so on arose from pressure to deliver, at all costs.
  • Nancy Settle-Murphy makes the case for proving that you are trustworthy and then tells you how.

Established Methods

  • Harry Hall gets us back to the basics of cost management. Great example, real life actions.
  • Elizabeth Harrin calendars the project management conferences planned for 2017, including some too far in the future to describe the content.
  • Mike Clayton lists fifty great project management blogs we should be following in 2017, including many new to me.
  • Frederic Lardinois reports that Atlassian Software (Jira and Confluence) is buying Trello in yet another round of consolidation in the project management software market.
  • David Robins points out the downside of online project management and collaboration software: empowering the uninitiated. Think “Jurassic Park.”
  • Glen Alleman goes into deep, technical detail on the Cone of Uncertainty, which is a metaphor for the process of reducing cost and schedule risk on projects.
  • Thomas Carney gives us a detailed course on quality assurance in software engineering.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers shares his weekly Agile roundup: Scrum turns 21, product ownership (not just the role), and whether “priority” can be plural.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews NK Shrivastava on his PMI Global Congress presentation, Warning Signs that Agile Isn’t Working. Just 30 minutes, safe for work.
  • Marty Bradley addresses the new Agilista question: should the PMO go away?
  • Matteo Tontini describes learning to work as a team using Scrum, without a full-time product owner. Failure in three, two, one …
  • Moira Alexander posts a beginners FAQ on Agile project management. You almost certainly have a stakeholder that would benefit from this, so pass it along.

Applied Leadership

  • Seth Godin translates a sign at LaGuardia Airport from pompous bureaucratic to conversational English. Yes, you have permission to communicate like an actual person.
  • Coert Visser explains the Mother of All Biases: naïve realism. Includes a “count your fingers” exercise demonstrating how our perception is sharp in only a very narrow field.
  • Elise Stevens curates a list of resources for developing effective leadership skills.
  • Andy Kaufman reflects on influencing through questions. Just over six minutes, safe for work. A bit loud, but if you clicked on the Jon Spear Band tune …

Technology and Techniques

  • Jenna Hogue directs us to a presentation on cognitive computing (51 minutes, safe for work) but mercifully gives us an overview of the content.
  • Carnegie Mellon University has lined up four of the world’s best professional poker players to compete against an AI program. Sounds like “Her” meets “Casino Royale.”
  • Nilanjan Kar tutors us on creating an impactful PMO dashboard using Powerpoint. More interesting for the examples than the techniques, but worth reading.

Working and the Workplace

  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Anna Schlegel, author of “Truly Global: The theory and practice of bringing your company to international markets.”
  • Ryan Ogilvie recounts a conversation with a colleague who was asked to ‘drop the hammer’ on people more often in her new role. Ryan’s counsel: choose your battles wisely.
  • Suzanne Lucas shares demotivating job descriptions penned by the people who do them. “I try to convince people in another time zone to talk to the person two cubicles away.”

Enjoy!