Special Mention: Nick Pisano’s Post at AITS

Nick PisanoI normally include references to articles and blog posts in my weekly round-up, but in this case, I wanted to go into more depth than my usual one or two sentences. Nick Pisano’s article at AITS this week looks like the capstone of his argument that IT project failure is less about unknown and unknowable risks than about poor management processes. His analysis runs from Black Swans to Babe Ruth, and from studies by Rand and McKinsey to his previous posts on the physics and economics of software development.

Nick concludes with nine very specific principles that should be the basis of every software development project selection and execution process. His underlying theme: improving the success rate of software projects lies not in the cryptozoology of unforeseeable events, but in the application of modern management techniques and evidence-based decision making. Projects should not be begun without clear objectives and success metrics, and they should be terminated when evidence of impending failure is identified.

It’s a long read, but well worth your time. Great job, Nick.

New PM Articles for the Week of March 23 – 29

Saturday Balloon RideNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 23 – 29. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Ron Rosenhead shares some proven rules for project sponsors to use when briefing their project managers on the new project.
  • Harry Hall lists seven presentation principles that project managers can learn from the weatherman.
  • Toby Elwin distills some statistics on the Fortune 500 to make the point that the pace of change is increasing. And as project managers, we are agents of change!

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman describes a rigorous approach to estimating, which doesn’t assume that the past is entirely representative of the future.
  • Bruce Benson reports that, by starting their project planning earlier and focusing on quality, his company avoided finishing late and buggy.
  • Luis Seabra Coelho explains the difference between a project and a program.
  • Richard Lepsinger has some suggestions for helping remote workers stay connected.
  • Michelle Stronach looks at the PMO as a repository and source of “knowable project management.”
  • Ryan Ogilvie looks at knowledge management from the self-service perspective. It’s all about processing for consumption.
  • John Goodpasture considers the question of whether software actually fails, or just has faults. Burnt toast, anyone?
  • Nick Pisano looks into the sources of resistance to change, when enterprise software is the change agent.
  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Mike Hughes, a consultant specializing in operational excellence, on why and how the IT department should say no.

Agile Methods

  • Pawel Brodzinski notes the inherent fallacy in the Shu-Ha-Ri model of learning new skills.
  • Johanna Rothman explains some of the reasons why managers need estimates.
  • Kaushik Saha defines the INVEST acronym for user stories.
  • Nada Aldahleh describes six characteristics of effective product owners.

 Professional Development

  • Mike Griffiths looks at the statistics of the various credential programs from PMI, and plots a few trends.
  • Paul Ritchie breaks down what the new PMI recertification requirements mean to training organizations.
  • Steven Levy renews his membership in PMI, using software with an appallingly bad UX.
  • Bruce Harpham notes several things you can do to help new team members get up to speed, while instilling a positive attitude.
  • Elizabeth Harrin shares the contents of her reading pile. More accurately, her books to-finish-reading pile.
  • Jamie Hill extracts a few lessons from his new book, “Make Good Habits Stick.”

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Wes Schaeffer on the art and practice of sales and negotiating for project managers. Plus career tips from Dev Ramcharan and the must-read PM articles list from your truly. Just 36 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Jamal Moustafaev on his new book, “Project Scope Management.” Just 25 minutes, safe for work.
  • Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley have crafted a commercial for their new book, “Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success: The Sustainability Wheel.” Just three minutes, safe for work, it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.


New PM Articles for the Week of March 2 – 8

Chapel in the SkyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 2 – 8. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. This week’s flyover balloon has a sign proclaiming it to be “The Little White Chapel in the Sky.” Schedule an Elvis impersonator to officiate your hot air balloon wedding – only in Las Vegas!

Must read!

  • Hendrie Weisinger begins a new series based on his book, “Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most.”
  • Coert Visser reports on some recent research into mind-wandering. You know: like what happens during a tedious meeting? It might actually be a good thing, at times.
  • Rachel Bertsche introduces us to four folks in their late twenties who share their stories of how they worked their way into project management opportunities. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably in a position to help someone, like you were helped. Pay it forward!

PM Best Practices

  • Pawel Brodzinski looks at alternative ways to approach multiple projects in a portfolio.
  • Glen Alleman defines governance, at the business, IT department, and program level, and tells us why it’s necessary.
  • Michael Ipsaro gives us a tutorial on milestone decisions.
  • John Goodpasture gets us to the most applicable stuff in probability and Statistics, for project managers.
  • Gina Abudi presents a case study in resolving conflict with four long-term vendors. This is the first in what appears to be a series of three.
  • Ron Rosenhead shares the Rosenhead Manifesto, on preventing scope creep.
  • Allen Ruddock explains why lessons learned often don’t get implemented.
  • Nick Pisano notes four trends in project management that keep coming up in conferences, as well as in practice.

Agile Methods

  • Peter Saddington recommends that, in order to use Jira successfully, don’t try to use it for everything.
  • Michael Prom explains how Agile methods can be used to develop medical devices, and other products with extensive compliance requirements.
  • Henny Portman reviews Jeff Sutherland’s new book, “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.” As Henny notes, it’s more about “why” than “how.” Doesn’t the title do that?
  • Johanna Rothman contemplates people management, performance management, and compensation management, using servant leadership concepts.

Soft Skills

  • Scott Berkun interviews Phil Simon on his new book, “Message Not Received: Why Business Communication is Broken and How to Fix it.”
  • Susanne Madsen notes that effective leaders are into conversations – especially the tough conversations.
  • Lynda Bourne refers to a recent survey that indicates the soft skills are valued above academic achievement. And they’re perceived to be in short supply.
  • Bruce Harpham lists seven behaviors for making meetings effective.
  • Cesar Abeid interviews Dev Ramcharan on taking control of your career. Just over an hour, safe for work, and well worth your time.
  • Ruffin Veal recalls his transition from programmer to business analyst to project manager, as a teachable moment.
  • Pam Stanton reminds us that everything we need to know about working on projects, we learned in Kindergarten.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Susanne Madsen’s new book, The Power of Project Leadership.”
  • Harry Hall identifies the mistakes we make in managing our assumptions.
  • Soma Bhattacharya shares her approach to balancing work, blogging, and motherhood. It’s all about staying organized.