New PM Articles for the Week of December 24 – 30

New project management articles published on the web during the week of December 24 – 30, 2012.  Dave and Sandra read all of this stuff so you don’t have to!  Recommended:

  • James Clements talks about why sponsors demand aggressive deadlines and how to address those that are not realistic.
  • Michael Stanleigh steps through how organizations can successfully prioritize and align projects to overall strategy.
  • Susanne Madsen posits that the more quality questions you ask, the more successful your projects will be and gives us 16 essential questions to for our toolboxes.
  • Samad Aidane continues his series on tailoring Agile practices for use in enterprise-scale system integration projects.
  • Peter Saddington shares an infographic on Agile coaching and development jobs.  It looks like 2013 will be a year of opportunity for those with the right experience.
  • Soma Bhattacharya interviews trainer, author and project manager Jeff Furman.
  • Tristan Wember shares a few tips on how to motivate your team.
  • Penelope Trunk lists 15 things that over-achievers do.  For one thing, they make lists –  really long lists.
  • Rosalind Baker shares some of her favorite blogs, including this one!  Thanks for the tip of the hat, Roz!
  • Kelsey van Haaster took up chess to get his mind off his day job as a business analyst.  Bad move, Kelsey …
  • Bernardine Douglas thinks we should include project communications in our lessons learned review.
  • Chuck Morton continues his series on scheduling, with resource leveling.
  • Lynda Bourne helps us tailor communications for top stakeholders with a mutuality matrix.
  • Bruce Benson quotes Apple CEO Tim Cook, and advises us to find a higher purpose.
  • Shim Marom shares his predictions for 2013.  “#3: No politician will confess to being incompetent.”  Yeah, why go out on a limb, if you don’t have to?


New PM Articles for the Week of December 10 – 16

New project management articles published on the web during the week of December 10 – 16, 2012.  Dave and Sandra read all of this stuff so you don’t have to!  Recommended:

  • Vincent McGevna details a process for effectively executing on the project schedule, while simultaneously updating it.  Highly recommended!
  • Elizabeth Harrin shares an anniversary video from the APM, celebrating the last 40 years of project management.  Three minutes, safe for work.
  • LeRoy Ward points out the problem many PM’s have with addressing project concerns to stakeholders – the knowledge / vocabulary gap.
  • Lynda Bourne offers a few tips to improve stakeholder management. 
  • Craig Curran-Morton shares with us the lessons learned from his failure. We should all be so humble and open to learning from experience.
  • Jennifer Whitt takes a tongue- in-cheek approach to deliberate improvement by sharing “How to Be the Worst Project Manager on the Planet: 11 Habits to Stop Now!”
  • John Tripp compares conversations with Social Media connections to those without the same connection.  He then ties the conclusion into Project Management with tips on how to decrease the time focusing on the past with status reports and increase focus on the future.
  • Tristan Wember shares his round-up of leadership articles from November.
  • Ron Rosenhead shows us how to push back on demands for one of our key project team members to be moved to another project.
  • Wendy Werblin notes that on change initiatives, perception is (most of) reality.
  • Barb at Vyrtunet puts a name to an old phenomenon: “The Urkel effect.”
  • Michiko Diby has some techniques we can apply to Dr. Arthur Shelley’s “Reflective Performance Cycle” article in the latest PM Journal.
  • Roz Baker bases the “build or buy” decision on your understanding of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and strategic direction.
  • Mary Shacklett identifies ten IT risks that are less than obvious, and often overlooked.
  • Marian Haus suggests we gather more than just requirements – document our assumptions, constraints, and dependencies.
  • Kailash Awati addresses quality, as a definition and as a perspective.
  • Myles Dannhausen reports from The Nerdery’s Overnight Web Challenge, where teams of ten are matched with non-profits to revamp their web sites in 24 hours.
  • Chuck Morton continues his series on “the well-formed schedule” with a post on estimating task effort and duration.
  • Glen Alleman contemplates the notion of “most likely,” referred to as the “mode” in statistics, and why the weather in Trinidad and Cody, Wyoming are dissimilar.
  • Toni Bowers shares a nifty infographic on the most common reasons employees leave their jobs, and what it costs to replace them.  Don’t contribute to turnover!
  • Global Knowledge and Tech Republic teamed up to deliver the “2012 IT Skills and Salary Report.”
  • Mike Griffiths provides a round-up of the Agile PM certifications that are out there.
  • Jay Garmon enumerates the top ten geek media franchises of all time.  Mal Reynolds and his crew made it to number 4!


Accidental Mentoring

When you wake up one day and realize you are in a mentoring relationship.

Listen to the words of industry people and you will frequently hear acknowledgment of mentors. The references range from general to specific such as, “My life has been immensely enriched by this relationship” to “I wouldn’t have completed the project without my mentor” to “this specific tactic helped me”. A major component of the Project Manager role is developing and managing relationships. This is one type that may not tie directly into a specific project, but it will have a major impact on your life. Here are some personal observations of being on both sides.

Let’s start with the definition of a mentor. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:

“”Mentoring is usually a formal or informal relationship between two people-a senior mentor (usually outside the protégé’s chain of supervision) and a junior protégé.”

I have been lucky to have worked with some incredible people who have bestowed general wisdom, specific guidance, encouragement, and sometimes a good push out of my comfort zone. Some of my mentor experiences landed on the more formal side of the continuum and were extremely valuable however, I am going to talk about the informal side.  These relationships usually started in a casual sharing of experiences and ideas. Short water cooler interactions became longer talks. I started having more “ah ha” moments when we talked and the lessons really took root when I acted on suggestions and saw results. An interesting effect of the casual and broad sharing of experience is that timely advice pops into my head whenever a situation recalls a specific conversation. We also develop a relationship where I feel comfortable asking for their opinion and guidance regarding specific situations.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was now the mentor. I have a co-worker (let’s call her Sherry) who asked me a few questions regarding her first project. I answered and gave specific suggestions, reviewed several emails and even modeled a necessary conversation with a stakeholder. Prior to talking to the Stakeholder, we discussed the objectives and approach for the conversation. I then led the conversation with Sherry observing. Afterwards, we did a postmortem and Sherry was able to wrap up the issue. Over the course of the next few weeks, we talked in greater frequency and about broader topics. I realized I was a mentor when, several times, her eyes lit up and she grabbed pencil and paper to make a note.

As both the protégé and the mentor, I find myself appreciating the opportunity to have such dynamic and interesting people in my life. No matter what side of the relationship, my life has been enriched by being open to giving and receiving knowledge and assistance. I encourage Project Managers to share their knowledge as well as be open to what others can teach us. You may wake up one day and realize you are\have a mentor. Comment below with experiences you have had with an unplanned mentoring relationship.