Non-Utilitarian Metrics

My new post at AITS was published this morning. After my usual wise-ass opening, I provide three examples of poor project management metrics and how they were presented, and conclude with a few summary principles for collecting actionable data and presenting it clearly. I’m pretty sure I can squeeze out a few more articles like this, but it would be great to have some input from other project managers and portfolio managers. Leave a comment here or at AITS, and share a story I can repeat. With attribution, of course.


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 July 6 – 12

Balloon SunriseNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 6 – 12. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Our theme this week is taking a skeptical look at extraordinary claims. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Kailash Awati takes a critical look at knowledge work and the flimsy basis for claims of expertise.
  • John Goodpasture summarizes a few revolutionary ideas for the 21st century technocrat organization, despite his misgivings.
  • Bruce Benson compares the fault in his GPS that said he ran a four-minute mile with the claims made by methodology advocates.

PM Best Practices

  • Harry Hall reviews some strategies for dealing with the process by which sub-par resources get assigned to our projects.
  • Jim Anderson gives us some pointers on how to take control of a negotiation.
  • Elizabeth Harrin interviews Mark Woeppel on his new book, Visual Project Management.
  • Glen Alleman outlines the three major strategic themes underlying most IT projects.
  • Allen Ruddock suggests that the PMO can have an important role in maintaining stakeholder engagement.
  • Dan Patterson advocates for risk analysis as part of the process of green lighting a new project.
  • Bruce Harpham bullet points the characteristics of a good summer project. The kind you choose for yourself, of course!
  • Margaret Meloni composes an open letter to project team members.
  • Toby Elwin drives home the need to understand the action objective before communicating.
  • Ryan Ogilvie lists a few specious claims to avoid when pitching change. My favorite: “No testing is really needed.” Yup, that’s why we have production …
  • Braden Kelly starts a series on using Six Sigma / DMAIC to drive innovation.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman has gathered some insights for program-level product owners, and shares three of them with us.
  • Henrico Dolfing shares his lessons learned from using Scrum on an actuarial modeling project.
  • Nada Aldahleh has some suggestions for improving Scrum.

 Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews author, podcaster, and strategic business coach Gene Hammett on leaving the corporate world and learning from failure. Just 55 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews project management coach and mentor Jeff Furman on his approach. Just 30 minutes, safe for work.
  • William McKnight presents his TED talk on information as the next natural resource. Well, maybe not natural, but definitely a resource. Just 15 minutes, safe for work.

Outside the Lines

  • Peter Saddington shares a two minute video, ”Did I Get the Job?” Funny, not safe for work, but there’s nothing good on TV, so why not?
  • Seth Godin relates an interesting technique for getting an audience involved.
  • Vivek Prakash describes what he claims is, “The only technique that resolves conflicts.”