New PM Articles for the Week of August 25 – 31

Balloon Over The RoofNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 25 – 31. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman channels W. Edwards Deming, to make the point that management is about prediction, and thus estimation.
  • Rachel Matthews provides some insights on selecting contingent workers, also known as “temps,” for engineering roles.
  • Bruce Benson reports on the finger-pointing lawsuits counter-filed by Oracle and the State of Oregon, from their failed Cover Oregon healthcare website.
  • Ireti Oke-Pollard offers some thoughts on how to improve software testing, by thinking like users.
  • Dave Wakeman shares his insights on leading with integrity, following recent media reports on failures of leadership in politics and sports.
  • Brad Egeland continues his series on the seven areas for project managers to focus on.
  • Patti Gilchrist applies lessons from art (Pablo Picasso) to structuring project management presentations.

Agile Methods

  • Pawel Brodzinski tells why values and principles are more important than practices, techniques, tools, and methods.
  • Jesse Fewell crunches the numbers to see which organizations are winning the “Agile certification wars.” All we are saying is give PMI-ACP a chance …
  • Johanna Rothman fine-tunes a post by Glen Alleman that management is prediction.
  • John Goodpasture applies a little physics to understand the drop in productivity, once the team hits 70% throughput capacity.
  • Venkatesh Krishnamurthy shares a “soup recipe” for building self-organizing teams.
  • Madhavi Ledalla rises to the challenge of conducting retrospectives with a distributed team.
  • Martin LaPointe tells how his family used Scrum to self-organize their recent relocation from Paris to Montreal.

Following the Trends

  • Jennifer Zaino notes that, as the digital universe doubles in size every two years, data centers are evolving rapidly for high-density, green operations.
  • Kailash Awati explores the ironies of standardization and outsourcing enterprise IT.
  • Suzanne Lucas tells the story of an inflexible management team that couldn’t manage their “flexible” star employee.

Professional Development

Podcasts and Videos

  • Michel Dion shares some feedback for you podcasters. Not the kind that blows out your speakers … the helpful kind.
  • Cesar Abeid interviews Tim Stringer on his approach to “holistic productivity,” which he developed while being treated for cancer. Just 53 minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Rachel Gertz on applying psychological tools to project management. Just 18 minutes, safe for work.


New PM Articles for the Week of August 18 – 24

Balloon BeyondNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 18 – 24. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. And yes, I took all of these hot air balloon photos right in my own neighborhood. Privacy? Well, they seemed friendly enough. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman imagines a conversation between a project manager, a team of software developers, and an iceberg.
  • Brad Egeland starts a new series with a look at customer satisfaction, and why it’s the most important success metric.
  • Jim Anderson speculates on the root causes of Avon’s recent SAP implementation failure. The users left the company, rather than switch? Wow …
  • Emanuele Passera applies the tenets of “locus of control” theory to project management.
  • Bruce Benson tells of the New Manager who wanted to help.
  • Ian Whittingham continues his look at project management applications for Leavitt and Dubner’s new book “Think Like a Freak.”
  • Christopher Merryman demonstrates ways that we can add visual presentation to our project reporting communications.
  • Dan Patterson makes the case for consensus-based planning.
  • Ron Rosenhead tells of the great new Projects web site at the University of Edinburgh, and asks us how much project information do we share?
  • Nick Pisano is perplexed by the academic community’s apparent lack of interest in Big Data.
  • Jen Skrabak maps Tim Ogilvie’s “design thinking” to project portfolio management.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn explains his approach to massaging the backlog for a three-month vision of where the product is going.
  • John Carroll explains the Taoist basis for Agile methods. Or at least, anti-rigidity.
  • Craig Brown and Tony Ponton interview a few attendees / thought leaders at Agile Australia in Melbourne. Just 25 minutes, safe for work.

Professional Development

  • Elizabeth Harrin Interviews Terry Okoro, Chair of the APM’s Women in Project Management SIP on their 21st anniversary conference in London.
  • Dave Prior advocates for experiential learning, also known as “getting a bunch of adults to play a game together.”
  • Robert Wysocki and Joseph Matthews continue their series on methods for the Occasional PM. This episode: team structure.


The Impossible Deadline

Limes or Lemons?Another day, another question on a LinkedIn project management group discussion: “How to refuse your sponsor for the impossible deadline committed to by him?” Or, to put it another way, how do you tell him his lime is actually a lemon?

First of all, you aren’t refusing – you are simply calling his attention to reality. Good project managers are a force for truth. You can’t fit ten pounds of flour in a five-pound sack, as Dolly Parton once said, and no one benefits from spilling a lot of flour all over the floor, trying to make it so.

Exploring Alternatives

Explain why the scope to be delivered cannot be done in the time frame the sponsor outlined; ask if it makes sense to cut some things out of scope; then ask if there is budget to add resources. If the sponsor wants to make it about you, reply that you are simply doing the math – the project will not succeed, as currently envisioned. Ask what was the basis for the timeline that he provided. The answer will probably be about lack of support for the project at senior levels, whether it’s said that way or not, or about the sponsor’s personal ambitions. If you’re not making any progress with the cost or scope legs of the triangle, ask if it makes more sense to cancel the project. At that point, he’ll either deflate or explode.

Consequences and Culture

If you simply try to overcome reality (you can’t) in order to please this sponsor (you won’t), you’ll end up as the scapegoat when it becomes obvious the project is going to be late. Better to take the abuse up front, and get whatever credit there is to be had for putting the organization first.

Of course, I say this recognizing that, in some cultures it isn’t easy to stand up to authority. Deference and obedience to the manager are valued over loyalty to the best interests of the organization. I’m describing what I would do, with my American upbringing and cultural values. But even in our culture, it takes a lot of personal integrity to do all of this, especially when the sponsor is an ambitious tyrant. Before signing on to be a project manager, do a gut check: how would you handle this situation? Because you will face it, if you manage projects as a career.