New PM Articles for the Week of March 27 – April 2

New project management articles published on the web during the week of March 27 – April 2. And this week’s video: Ward Cunningham reflects on the history, motivation and common misunderstanding of the “debt metaphor” as motivation for refactoring.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • John Le Drew curated extracts of interviews with Agile thought leaders and statistics to tell a very NPR-sounding story about safety from abusive work environments, and why we need it. Just 37 minutes, safe for work.
  • Natalie Warnert contemplates how technical debt contributes to the cost of delay in future changes, and why we should talk about that future cost before incurring additional debt.
  • Johanna Rothman shares a few anecdotes that describe how servant leadership works in practice.

Established Methods

  • Laura Barnard describes the activities that should happen in the Discovery phase before the project is approved and the charter created.
  • Susanne Madsen bullets six things to do when starting up a new project.
  • Dave Prior interviews Don Kim on his new book, “I Think, Therefore I Plan.” Just 32 minutes, safe for work.
  • Nick Pisano defends the analysis of historical data to identify and act on trends as more than just “telling them history they already know.”
  • Glen Alleman lists five principles of project success and then ties them to the processes needed to implement them and practices that have been proven to be widely applicable.
  • Jeff Collins gives us a tutorial on earned value management.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly roundup of Agile content, including the Agile mindset, the neuroscience of trust, structured conversations, experimentation, and more.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy has a truthful conversation with a prospective client about Scrum: how it works, what it demands of the product owner, and why they’re called “sprints.”
  • Esther Derby describes experimentation as a method of driving incremental organizational change.
  • The Clever PM provides a recommended reading list for product managers – also applicable to project managers, Scrum masters, and anyone else leading people.
  • Bart Gerardi describes three kinds of dependencies that would make a Scrum team want to align their sprint calendar with that of other teams.
  • Margaret Kelsey interviews Misael Leon of Nearsoft, who shares his insights on how to understand your users’ motivations. Just 37 minutes, safe for work.

Applied Leadership

  • Harry Hall identifies four common reasons we get stuck and suggests corrective actions that can get our teams moving again. Plus a three-minute video, safe for work.
  • Michael Greer describes five critical conditions that have to be present in order to enable team success.
  • Mike Girdler lists four key actions needed to change a toxic corporate culture.
  • Gina Abudi concludes her series on getting buy-in for a large project.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Mike Clayton gives us a solid tutorial on persuasion and influence.
  • Gavin Martin links us to a table from the National Conference of State Legislatures, with links to the security breach notification laws in each state.
  • Teena Maddox reports on the successful recycling of a SpaceX booster rocket—just one more step on the way to 4,425 satellites delivering internet service to the entire globe.

Working and the Workplace

  • Bertrand Duperrin notes that the young are virtuoso users of technology that they don’t understand and don’t care to learn about. So how will we find enough geeks?
  • Leigh Espy explains what project managers really do in terms of roles and responsibilities. This is an excellent resource for coaching an “accidental project manager.”
  • Coert Visser collates a checklist of questions to support your professional development.


New PM Articles for the Week of November 28 – December 4

New project management articles published on the web during the week of November 28 – December 4. And this week’s video: children narrate a Museum of London video of a man demonstrating how to cast an axe head using Bronze Age technologies. Just four minutes, safe for work, and far more thought-provoking than anything on television.

Must read / view / listen!

  • Sathappan Chinnakaruppan reports on teaching project management terminology, processes, and skills to sixth-grade kids – including his daughter.
  • Elizabeth Harrin recommends eleven must-have gadgets for the office worker on your holiday gift list.
  • Mike Cohn makes the case for standards of excellence in Agile and stimulates a whole lot of comments.

Established Methods

  • Women Testers Magazine October 2016 edition is now available for download, and it includes a variety of excellent articles. Yes, I know – it’s December …
  • Scott Matteson details ten (non-mutually exclusive) ways to kill a zombie IT project. No edged weapons required.
  • John McIntyre explains why the US government’s Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act is a big deal.
  • John Goodpasture quotes John LeCarre in asserting that part of assessing the quality of data is identifying the source.
  • Kerry Wills demonstrates the value of managing expectations when failure is a distinct possibility.
  • Nick Pisano updates us on progress toward producing a user experience completely under user control.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers shares his weekly round-up of all things Agile, from Scrum to Kanban, and from teams to customers.
  • Johanna Rothman explains why both pushing work (i.e. Scrum) and pulling work (i.e. Kanban) may be right for your team.
  • Dave Prior interviews Derek Huether on the Triangle of Productivity, his new theory on what makes us effective. Just 30 minutes, safe for work.
  • Ben Linders explains the Agile Self-Assessment Game, an interesting way for teams to discover how well they’ve embraced Agile methods.
  • Henny Portman reviews “The Product Samurai,” by Chris Lukassen, which maps the seven principles of the Samurai to product management. But no swords.
  • Shay Peleg debunks a half-dozen myths that senior management frequently believes about Agile methods.
  • Moira Alexander provides the smart person’s guide to Agile project management. Dummies need not apply.

Applied Leadership

  • Michael Wood identifies the critical “people realities” of project management, and the people skills we need to hone to deal with them.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy lists the “do’s” and “don’ts” of successfully managing your project team.
  • Laura Barnard deconstructs the instruction, “Be more strategic.”

Technology and Techniques

  • Jennifer Zaino reports from the Dataversity Enterprise Data World 2016 conference on the existential question: Is NoSQL the future of databases?
  • Jeff Boehm explains the notions behind NewSQL, which attempts to bridge the gap between traditional relational databases and NoSQL.
  • Nir Eyal tells how “multiple discovery theory” explains why great minds think alike, at about the same time.

Working and the Workplace

  • yawn-for-coffeeRebecca Knight provides a detailed course of action in getting your manager’s respect.
  • Leigh Espy talks with Bruce Harpham about how to get project management experience through volunteer work.
  • Nina Semczuk points out three signs your communication skills might need some work.


Major Update to my Home Office!

I addition to writing and blogging, I’m a project management consultant working from an office in my home. Many of my clients supply a laptop that they want me to use when accessing their network. Up until recently, I just spread everything around on my U-shaped desk – laptop, monitor, monitor, laptop, monitor – and tried not to knock anything over. Then a few months ago, I started looking at standing desks. I just don’t have room in my home office for another table or desk – if I did, I’d add a woodworking bench. For a while, it looked like I was going to have to ditch what I had in order to be able to start over. Not my idea of a positive solution. So I asked my daughter-in-law for her recommendation.

Home office sitting configuration

Sitting configuration, sans mug

Like me, Nancy works with multiple monitors. She has been using a gadget from Varidesk for several months. It sits on the tabletop and lets you raise and lower your monitors, keyboard, coffee mug, and so on with minimal exertion. Her experience has been positive, although she is considering a product from another company with an electric motor to handle the lifting. Since I need the exercise, I opted for the manual version of the desk. But that really only solved half of the problem.

Home office sitting configuration

Standing configuration, avec mug

I found a dual monitor KVM switch from StarTech, which allows me to toggle between the laptops. Then I ordered a Vivo laptop stand so I could mount the client laptop above my Dell, which lives in a docking station. I now have the two laptops “stacked” vertically next to my standing desk and I can work on one computer while monitoring the other for activity. I can toggle both monitors, keyboard, and trackball with a single button on the right side of the StarTech KVM box, located between and beneath the monitors. The third 1920 by 1200 monitor is sitting in the corner, pending other uses.

The Vivo mount is stable enough to type on when logging in or when I want to respond to an Email or IM without switching to that laptop. It never moves, even when raising and lowering the VariDesk. I considered mounting the pole in an existing hole in the desktop return at the base of the U, but by using the C-clamp on the edge of the return behind the other laptop, I was able to reclaim that space for other uses. And when I need to remove the lower laptop from its docking station, the Vivo arm swings the upper laptop out of the way.

At this point, I’m sold on the health benefits and relative comfort of using a desk that lets me alternate between sitting and standing – when I say I’m an Agile project manager, I really mean it! My next purchase will likely be one of those soft padded mats to stand on and maybe an IV pole to supplement my coffee mug. If I ever decide to mount my Macbook, I’ll use that return desktop hole for another Vivo mount. They have one that supports both a laptop and a monitor, at standing height. And I still have space under the hutch on the left side of the desk for other gadgets.

Final note: I don’t have any relationships with any of these vendors, and I didn’t even add them to the Practicing IT PM Bookstore, although maybe I should. This is just my personal product review.