New PM Articles for the Week of September 28 – October 4

Red BalloonNew project management articles published on the web during the week of September 28 – October 4. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Peter Gray summarizes the declining emotional maturity and resilience among college students, manifesting as an inability to handle setbacks and an escalating demand for services.
  • Esther Derby recently reflected on best practices for Agile, and selected seven to share with us. Note: these aren’t just Agile practices, but approaches to problem-solving.
  • Lisa McLeod analyzes the Volkswagen emission spoofing scandal, as a proactive deception driven by the CEO’s goals for the company, rather than adding customer value.

Established Methods

  • Todd Williams points out the pitfalls in organizational change management.
  • Philip Smith notes that that hard part, in these times of rapid change, is making change “stick.”
  • Allen Ruddock argues that the key to a successful project is communicating to the stakeholders what’s at stake for them – “What’s in it for me?”
  • Harry Hall lists nine ways to start a new project, in order to avoid being behind at the point of 15% completion.
  • Dhan Wa says we’re in the midst of a generational change in the practice of project management.
  • Bruce Harpham explains how to grow your internal network, and why you should.
  • Vivek Prakash reports on how the team that translated the PMBOK 5th Edition into Hindi set ground rules for handling disagreement, to meet their project schedule.
  • Glen Alleman explores the unmyths of project duration estimating.
  • Rich Maltzman makes the link between assumptions and risks, and then trots out an example from fish biology to illustrate his point.
  • John Goodpasture identifies some of the crucial innovations that arose from the American Civil War and World War II.

Agile Methods

  • Gil Broza gives us the “why” of working in iterations.
  • Mike Cohn wants to see the Scrum coaches and trainers shift their thinking, to grow the community rather than solidify their market share.
  • Jaap Dekkinga lists six levels of “doneness” that should be considered in Agile planning.
  • Jenny Brown notes some of the organizational challenges that can inhibit the adoption of Lean / Six Sigma methods.

Applied Leadership

  • Peter Saddington does a review of recent research into leadership and employee engagement, and finds evidence that we should be leading from the heart.
  • Art Petty reports on the lessons he learned from delivering two leadership workshops for the Alabama Jail Association. Leading in dangerous situations amplifies success and failure.
  • Tom McFarlin shares his professional approach to dealing with business relationships gone sour.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Elizabeth Harrin addresses questions about online project management training and the level of difficulty of the PMP exam. Just three minutes, safe for work.
  • Alena Kuzniatsova recommends a video from the Agile2015 Conference: a panel discussion on adopting Agile methods. Just over an hour, safe for work.
  • Jesse Fewell shares two brief videos, on #NoEstimates and virtual collaboration. A total of 13 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Amany Nuseibeh on the need for project managers to live the PMI Code of Ethics. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.
  • Ruairi O’Donnellan shares a funny short video on eliminating risk. Less than two minutes, and safe for work as long as you use the enclosed stand.


New PM Articles for the Week of September 7 – 13

Over TownNew project management articles published on the web during the week of September 7 – 13. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Lynda Bourne sees recent corporate ethical lapses in the news, and traces them to both a governance problem and an enforcement challenge.
  • Harry Hall has some practical ways to improve the quality of IT project estimates. No magic bullets here, just good management practice.
  • Michel Dion tells us how to management project relationships. It’s not just about planning communications, but establishing lines of communication.

Established Methods

  • Glen Alleman contrasts the four common software development approaches – Waterfall, Incremental, Spiral, and Evolutionary – and provides some history.
  • John Goodpasture decomposes the notion of scope, as described in the second edition of his book, “Project Management the Agile Way.”
  • Bruce Harpham explains how to build better relationships at work.
  • Russell Whitworth explains how to plan for and conduct a “Learning from Experience” workshop, because we never learn from lessons learned documents.
  • Nick Pisano comes up for air, after spending a lot of time in data streams and data reservoirs.
  • John Hoebler has a few non-technical pointers for making your system implementation project a success.
  • Elizabeth Harrin summarizes new features recently included in several popular (and obscure) project management apps.
  • Dave Wakeman celebrates the start of the college football season by writing about Alabama coach Nick Saban’s mantra: “process guarantees success.”
  • Ryan Ogilvie runs into a friend, who described a problem at work. Ryan’s diagnosis: a lack of knowledge management
  • David Cotgreave thinks the way to keep up with changes in technology is to outsource it.
  • Tim Kress explains how to develop the ability to sell your ideas to management, otherwise known as “pitching.”
  • Henny Portman reviews “Successful Project Sponsorship,” by Michiel van der Molen. The new English language version uses PMBOK terminology, but retains the PRINCE2 point of view.

Agile Methods

  • Derek Huether explains the merits of an A3 report, a structured approach to continuous improvement. You don’t need me to mention Toyota, right? Thought not.
  • Neil Killick is willing to admit to his role as an early advocate of #NoEstimates, but he doesn’t want to be seen as spokesman – just as one of the debaters.
  • Mike Cohn wants to play “stump the band.” So head over to Mountain Goat Software and suggest a topic for him to write about.
  • Ken Coomes derives seven habits of highly effective Scrum ceremonies from an article by Neal Hartman.
  • Gene Gendel just completed his two-part article on how to handle interruptions in Scrum. But start with Part 1.

Work Isn’t a Place You Go

  • Don Kim finds the future, as a self-employed artisan project manager, in an article in The Economist. Hear, hear!
  • Suzanne Lucas gives us the details on how employers (and managers) really hire an employee.
  • Coert Visser reviews a recent study and finds that the mental effort required for a solitary task can influence the concentration of a companion on a different solitary task. In other words, concentration is contagious.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Judy Hinwood on how to break the stress cycle – start by celebrating your awareness of the problem! Just 14 minutes, safe for work.
  • Patricia Goh confirms that, while a little hard work never hurt anyone, overworking can eventually kill you.


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.