New Post at AITS: Decision-Making Under the Influence

My latest article for AITS was published today: Decision-Making Under the Influence: SME, HiPPO, and BOGSAT.

Good decisions require accurate, timely, actionable information and good decision-makers try to gather a variety of viewpoints. The influence of the subject matter expert is usually all three, while the highest-paid person’s opinion may be an undue influence, and peer opinions may be counter-productive. That’s not to say that you should dismiss them out of hand – far from it. You simply need to have a realistic expectation of what value they add. If you have comments on this topic, please leave a comment at AITS. If you have suggestions for future topics, please leave a comment here.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.

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.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 4 – 10

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 4 – 10. And this week’s video: Nick Bostrom’s TED talk on why machine learning will eventually require machines to have human values.

Must read!

  • Art Petty points to Volkswagen as example of what happens when an ethical lapse allows an organization to take a shortcut to success.
  • Daniel Newman looks into the business potential of chatbots and deep learning. If you manage projects with customer-facing capabilities, this stuff is in your near future.
  • Henny Portman describes the changes to the latest refresh of the Scrum Guide.

Established Methods

  • Nick Pisano makes an elegant case for trial and error, and always being in a yellow status.
  • Glen Alleman builds on the baseball metaphor in “Moneyball” to illustrate the need to manage software development, based on continuous analysis.
  • Harry Hall recounts a recent health scare to illustrate how to identify and deal with “sneaky” risks.
  • Mike Cohn recommends two simple actions that will help meeting participants be more mindful.
  • Isidora Roskic covers the basics of stakeholder management, from a team perspective.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews test preparation coach Julie DeSot on how to identify the correct answer in the PMP exam. Just 39 minutes, safe for work.

Agile Methods

  • Ryan Ripley interviews Ellen Gottesdiener on the importance of discovery as an enabler of delivery. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.
  • David Taber has some very specific recommendations for making Agile methods and traditional waterfall concepts work together.
  • Jeff Himmelright shares an interactive team training exercise in responding to unexpected contingencies, inspired by a scene in Apollo 13.
  • Aaron Smith summarizes the key findings in the recent Changepoint study, “Business Agility: Is It Easy to Pivot?”

Applied Leadership

  • Braden Kelly expounds on the value of thought leadership.
  • Apple Pineda explains why it takes a different approach to earn a Millenial’s loyalty.
  • Andy Jordan looks at some of the issues related to managing multiple generations in the workplace.
  • David Cotgreave notes that project risk management and handling requires a team where everyone’s opinion is considered – not just the leader’s.
  • Brad Egeland lists a few reasons why the human touch is still needed in project management – robots need not apply.

Working and the Workplace

  • Bertrand Duperrin describes the need to “consumerize” the workplace: “If they had to pay to rent the workplace, would they pay or look for another place?”
  • James Clear makes an interesting point: our environment imposes limits that we can’t easily change, no matter how motivated we are.
  • Lisette Sutherland interviews Michael Sliwinski on maximizing productivity by actively curating notifications and interruptions. Just 40 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Nicole Nader, who makes the case for women attending a project management networking event. Just 21 minutes, safe for work.
  • Bruce Harpham interviews technical recruiter Ronald Yoon for insights on how recruiting works and what recruiters are looking for.
  • Susanne Madsen tells us how to demonstrate leadership, on the way to earning your next promotion.