New PM Articles for the Week of December 23 – 29

New project management articles published on the web during the week of December 23 – 29. And this week’s video: ER doctor Darria Long explains key lessons from hospital emergency rooms on handling stress and chaos. Great examples from a great storyteller. 14 minutes, safe for work.

Ethics, Business Acumen and Strategy

  • Karen Hao calls for the ethical development and application of AI and related technologies. 3 minutes to read.
  • Emily Daniel pinpoints the trends in AI development and application that will command real investment in 2020. 4 minutes to read.
  • Peter Diamandis gives his take on how 3D printing will completely change retail. 4 minutes to read or 7 minutes to the podcast, safe for work.
  • Anna Prist predicts the trends for voice technology in the coming year. 5 minutes to read.

Managing Projects

  • Mike Clayton presents a capstone essay on how to be the best project manger you can be. 14 minutes, plus a couple of linked videos.
  • Anna Balyuk and Anna Bashyrova analyzed over 50 job requisitions at Amazon, Apple, and Google to determine what they are looking for in project managers. 7 minutes to read.
  • Roger Swannell shares his thoughts on how Microsoft Teams might be used by actual teams, as well as how it might be improved. 6 minutes to read.
  • Glen Alleman recommends Brent Flyvbjerg’s new book, The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management. 2 minutes to read.
  • John Goodpasture shares his short course on risk management. About 3 minutes to read through the 23-slide deck.

Managing Software Development

  • Kiron Bondale gets to the essence of a recent Dilbert strip on shipping a product quickly, for the wrong reasons. 2 minutes to read.
  • Christiaan Verwijs helps us determine whether someone is an actual stakeholder or just an audience member. 4 minutes to read.

Applied Leadership

  • Charles Richard explains seven keys to leading effective team meetings. 4 minutes to read.
  • Liane Davey recommends that we let our team have that heated conversation. Conflict debt is a thing. 6 minutes to read.

Cybersecurity and Data Protection

  • David Balaban describes several social engineering tricks that are often used in targeted attacks. I’ve recently seen two of these in the wild—be aware! 6 minutes to read.
  • Trevor Daughney makes six cybersecurity predictions for 2020. 5 minutes to read.
  • Terry Sweeney explains SIM-swapping attacks, from what they are to how they are achieved (access to the device isn’t required) to potential consequences. 4 minutes to read.

Pot Pourri

  • Sharlyn Lauby states that employee retention will continue to be one of the top priorities for 2020 and provides links to relevant articles on turnover. 2 minutes to read.
  • Suzanne Lucas quotes from a new study that found a partial explanation for the pay gap: men who report to other men get promoted faster. Be aware, be fair. 3 minutes to read.


New PM Articles for the Week of August 31 – September 6

SightseersNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 31 – September 6. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Julie Bort summarizes the myths and science of lies, liars, and a few ways to identify when someone is hiding something.
  • Scott Adams lists some of the “tells,” or involuntary actions, for cognitive dissonance, the human reaction to facts that conflict with one’s beliefs. Be careful, because you won’t be able to un-read this.
  • Coert Visser describes a 2 by 2 matrix, modest /arrogant and ignorant / knowledgeable, and suggests some strategies for dealing with the arrogant-yet-ignorant state of mind.

Established Methods

  • Moira Alexander shares her strategic alignment checklist for project managers, because it’s not just about being on schedule, on budget, and on the quality target.
  • Gary Nelson uses a woodworking metaphor for getting a project completed without cutting corners (or sanding them off).
  • Phil Weinzimer reflects on his interviews of Proctor and Gamble’s CIO, Filippo Passerini, who was so impressive that he rates an entire chapter in Phil’s new book.
  • Glen Alleman makes the case for using source lines of code as a measure of system and project performance.
  • And in response, Nick Pisano argues the case against using SLOC as a measure of performance. I agree with Nick on this one.
  • Matthew Squair looks at technical debt through his safety engineering and risk management lens.
  • BrenDt imagines the perfect project management tool; it’s just not commercially available, yet.
  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Brian Manning, co-founder of Centric Digital, on the balance between project management and creativity.
  • Parag Tipnis finds the intersection of scope management and stakeholder management, where diplomacy is required to keep perfection from preventing progress.
  • Neel Patel reports on what the AI and security communities say about the prospect of software beating hackers in the near term: not likely.

Agile Methods

  • Pawel Brodzinski explains the effect that the Zeigarnik Effect has on context switching – one more reason to limit work in progress.
  • John Goodpasture notes with approval the role of the enterprise architect in Disciplined Agile Delivery.
  • Mike Cohn makes the case for budgeting, as an alternative for teams that don’t feel capable of estimating well.
  • Neil Killick argues for product management, as a long-term replacement for project, program, and portfolio management. He didn’t convince me, but it’s worth a read.

Work Isn’t a Place You Go

  • Alia Crum and Thomas Crum describe a three-step process for leveraging stress.
  • Michael Lopp wakes up in a panic at 4:00 AM to review his deadlines, work in progress, and commitments. Time to delegate! Well, after everyone else is in the office…
  • Bruce Harpham interviews podcaster Jeff Sanders, who focuses on early mornings, productivity, healthy habits, and personal development.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews “Growing Software: Proven Strategies for Managing Software Engineers,” by Louis Testa.


Commitment: It’s the Way Business is Done

Empty DesksI’ve recently noticed a trend: a number of Agile software development consultants, coaches, and thought leaders have been writing about commitment, in the context of management wanting them to commit to dates on a quarterly basis. The general consensus among these folks is that commitment should be on a shorter time line, like their bi-weekly sprints. Don’t ask us to commit to more than we can do in the next two weeks, because we don’t estimate well, or we don’t understand exactly what is needed. Like it says in the Agile manifesto. “We value responding to change, over following a plan.

Organizations Communicate Via Plans and Contracts

While that’s certainly a positive value, plans are also necessary. Especially for organizations negotiating contracts with customers and suppliers, transitioning to new lines of business, merging, acquiring, divesting, and doing all of the other outward-facing activities common to businesses. A CIO who greenlights a project to replace an ERP expects to be able to quit paying annual service charges to their legacy vendor on some date. A CEO who negotiated financial incentives for her suppliers, based on their utilization of their supply chain management system, agrees to milestone dates. A CFO who needs to merge two general ledger charts of accounts after an acquisition needs to be able to report financial results for a specific quarter. And when those things don’t happen on time, their ability to negotiate the next deal is hampered, much like your credit score is affected when you miss a mortgage payment. The business suffers, in ways great and small, from stock price dips to the cost of capital, to opportunities and jobs lost. The damage may never be apparent to the software development team, but it’s real.

There are few things less beneficial than perfect, too late. Therefore, mature software development teams set a window for requirements changes, announce it to their stakeholders, and deliver based on their understanding of what is required, at that point in time. Mature, quality-driven software development teams understand their tools, their environment, their architecture, and their limitations. They can sketch out a timeline that has a reasonable ability to manage their schedule risks, and they commit to it. Mature software development teams understand that it’s not about them, and it’s not about their processes; it’s about the needs and aspirations of the organization they serve.

Employers Value Business Acumen

PMI recently announced new continuing certification requirements for the PMP and other credentials that emphasize what surveys have identified as employer-desired skills. As PMI puts it, “Employers need project practitioners with leadership and business intelligence skills to support long-range strategic objectives that contribute to the bottom line. The ideal skill set — the PMI Talent Triangle — is a combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise.” One of the key components of this skill set is what is commonly called business acumen: an understanding of the business, the marketplace, and the operating environment. It enables the project manager to interpret the strategy set by the leadership team and apply it to the project, thus improving the likelihood of delivering the benefits sought by the decision makers who approved it. If software development professional organizations are taking similar steps, I haven’t heard about it.

A competitive business environment is not a video game; it’s closer in spirit to a track meet, with multiple teams competing in multiple events. At some level, it’s the Olympics; competition on a global scale. If some portion of the organization can’t compete at the required level, that function eventually gets outsourced. And the decision to undergo that kind of painful, expensive disruption won’t be driven by some pointy-haired boss, but by a bunch of Wallys.