New PM Articles for the Week of May 13 – 19

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 13 – 19. And this week’s video: Mike Clayton explains the Voice of the Customer, a process for understanding stakeholder needs. 3 minutes, safe for work. Mike has produced over 80 of these brief videos on a wide variety of topics; check them out here.

Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Ronald Smith lists some Worst Practices for outsourcing IT. Yes, these are guaranteed failure drivers—go thou and do otherwise. 11 minutes to read.
  • Michael Li recaps several very public failures of AI business solutions where inherent bias crept into the system because no one was managing the risk. 5 minutes to read.
  • Hites Ahir, Nicholas Bloom, and Davide Furceri examine the impact of uncertainty, driven by political forces, on business investment and economic results.

Managing Projects

  • Elizabeth Harrin posted two webinars this week: How to Succeed as a Project Manager, based on her book, and How to Manage Multiple Projects. Each a little over an hour, safe for work.
  • George Freeman gives us his thoughts on Architectural Awareness, the newest addition to the PMI Talent Triangle. At some point, will this become a square? 6 minutes to read.
  • Kiron Bondale observes that project information radiators require behavior changes on the part of the senior stakeholders in order to actually communicate. 2 minutes to read.
  • Leigh Espy introduces us to the Lean Coffee meeting and tells how to organize one. 6 minutes to read.
  • Gerri Poling shares her thoughts on ITIL 4, the version introduced earlier this year. Just over 2 minutes to read.
  • Johanna Rothman begins a new series on Agile methods for budgeting; here’s part 2. 7 minutes to read both.

Managing Software Development

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of Agile content, from Friday deploy freezes to electronic vs. visual boards to unintended consequences of your metrics. 7 outbound links, 3 minutes to read.
  • “Uncle Bob” Martin, who is a pilot and a programmer, shares his thoughts on the Boeing 737 Max 8 software failure that caused two crashes. 6 minutes to read.
  • Jason Skowronski explains staging environments—what they are and how they fit into the deployment cycle. 7 minutes to read.
  • Bas Dijkstra looks at two main reasons test automation doesn’t meet expectations, then outlines six steps to avoid falling into these traps. 7 minutes to read.
  • Alexey Gayduk describes the implementation of a chatbot system using an automated insurance agent as an example. 4 minutes to read.
  • Marija Cvjetkovic is a product owner and a cartoonist. Here are a few “graphical” thoughts about her day job. 6 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Agata Czopek on being an inclusive leader of a diverse project team. Podcast, 18 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mike Cohn tells us what the team wants from their Scrum Master. And any manager, for that matter. 4 minutes to read.
  • Sarah Hoban shares her experience with community goal setting. 3 minutes to read or download the podcast and listen for less than 5 minutes; safe for work.
  • Andy Makar recommends three must-read books to help a leader build better teams. 4 minutes to read.

Research and Insights

  • Gemma Read and Jason Thompson expect that if pedestrians can step into the road without fear of an autonomous vehicle hitting them, traffic will grind to a halt. 4 minutes to read.
  • Andreas Sandre summarizes 14 trends shaping consumer technology, transportation, and more. 4 minutes to read.
  • Colin Jones shares his notes on AWS security essentials, based on a video by Aaron Bedra. 6 minutes to read.

Working and the Workplace

  • Alice Boyes, author of The Anxiety Toolkit, explains what anxiety does to us at work, and it’s not good. 4 minutes to read.
  • Mike Vardy advocates for working at the speed of right—taking the time for critical thought and working on the right things. 2 minutes to read.
  • Michelle Cheng give us the executive summary of a survey on the most disruptive office distractions. If at least five make you feel guilty, there’s hope for you. 2 minutes to read.

Enjoy!

New PM Articles for the Week of May 8 – 14

New project management articles published on the web during the week of May 8 – 14. And this week’s video: TED’s Chris Anderson interviews Elon Musk on his projects, from boring tunnels under Los Angeles to a permanent colony on Mars. Just 41 minutes, safe for work. The future is a work in progress.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • Chad Rigetti and Chris Dixon discuss the physical limits that apply to Moore’s Law and prospects for quantum computing in machine learning. New term: “neuromorphic processor.” Just 27 minutes, safe for work.
  • Yuval Noah Harari looks out to 2050 when most jobs that exist today will have disappeared, and the “useless” class will be a far greater challenge than the working class.
  • Bertrand Duperrin updates on the end of search (as we know it) and the rise of non-benevolent assistance (“Let me help you select a product from our sponsors.”).

Established Methods

  • Harry Hall identifies five actions we can take to improve project communication
  • Charmaine Karunaratne suggests strategies and tactics for managing a project team distributed around the globe.
  • Colin Ellis catalogs a few ways to really suck at project management.
  • Geraldine O’Reilly steps us through the creation of a RACI matrix, and points out a few other variations, like CAIRO and RACI-VS.
  • Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy suggests a relatively simple project risk management plan.
  • John Goodpasture addresses the definition and handling of extreme risks.
  • Rich Maltzman notes the risk management implications of a recent discovery that climate change is releasing long-frozen viruses and bacteria into the water supply.
  • Glen Alleman recommends “The Death of Expertise,” by Tom Nichols. The Age of Enlightenment is but a dim memory …

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of all things Agile, from refactoring Agile to schizophrenic dichotomies in Agile frameworks to dual track development.
  • Leigh Espy delivers an excellent summary of Agile principles and philosophy, and a short overview of the leading methods. Highly recommended for project managers looking for a point of entry.
  • Dave Prior interviews John Le Drew, host of The Agile Path on his approach to the craft of podcasting. Just 46 minutes, safe for work.
  • The Clever PM presents a product manager’s guide to technical debt.
  • Bart Gerardi introduces voting using the Fist of Five. It only sounds like a Kung Fu movie.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty provides some guidance for managers on dealing with a toxic employee.
  • Mike Clayton provides action plans for dealing with each of six different types of difficult project sponsors.
  • Coert Visser notes that positive stereotypes are just as depersonalizing as negative stereotypes and thus should not be used as a compliment.

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Thomas Fox-Brewster reports on the quick action by a malware researcher which shut down Friday’s WannaCry ransomware. Still running XP on some device? You’ll surely get another opportunity to regret it.
  • Jennifer Zaino catches us up on recent attempts to develop standards for the Internet of Things, notably a new W3C working group and services based on Linked Data.
  • Nir Eyal shares an excerpt from Nathalie Nahai’s new book, “Webs of Influence: The psychology of online persuasion.” Specifically, this excerpt is about persuasive video.

Working and the Workplace

  • Michael Lopp describes his daily morning calendar scrub. “If unscheduled time is zero, die a little inside.”
  • My Nguyen outlines what we need to know about ergonomics to stay healthy while riding a desk all day. Desk, monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, and regular movement – all important!
  • Sara McCord considers the pros and cons of deleting LinkedIn connections you don’t actually know.

Enjoy!

Five Boxes, Three Ways

I read a lot of articles every week in curating these round-ups, and not all of the content is produced by project managers. Probably less than half, most weeks. I see a lot of excellent content from non-project managers, and a lot of gibberish, in about the same ratio that I see from project managers. Not everyone shares the same understanding of project management methodologies, even among the practitioners. I typically use the general classifications “Established” or “Traditional” methods and “Agile” methods while some folks refer to a methodology called “Waterfall.” So, in an effort to over-simplify these three commonly referenced methodologies, I’d like to show five boxes, three different ways.

This first version is frequently referred to as “waterfall.” Back in the 80’s, there were a few projects that were actually run in a fashion similar to this. Most failed, because you have to monitor while executing, or you don’t catch the errors until it’s too expensive to correct them. Ever seen that poster of two teams, building a bridge from opposite shores of a river, getting to the middle and suddenly realizing that they’re not matching up? Yeah, like that.

five-boxes-one

The second version is the way most projects have been managed for the last few decades: complete the planning stage, and then move on to execution, while monitoring the process and quality as you go. This is especially critical in civil engineering projects, like the apocryphal bridge, but also for those where compliance with some external protocols or requirements is required, or where powerful stakeholders have to be satisfied, or where a lot of sub-contractors, inspectors, or other contributors are involved.

five-boxes-two

These days, many projects are being run using Agile methods: plan enough to begin execution, monitor more-or-less continuously, and re-plan based on what you learn as you go. This is great for certain kinds of software and consumer product development projects; not so much for civil engineering, pharmaceutical development, and other projects where the product will have a lot of potentially catastrophic failure modes and a very long life.

five-boxes-three

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that the contents of the boxes have not changed. Poor execution will doom a project, no matter what else is going on. Initiating the wrong project or starving the right one for resources will generate a negative ROI, no matter how you manage it. And failing to monitor scope, schedule, cost, quality, and the mood of the stakeholders will burn any project to the ground. Simply re-arranging the boxes, like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, won’t change the outcome. But there will always be people who want to try.