Thoughts - Challenge the norm but back it up -

Great PMs dig deep into their heart but also dig deep into their brains, that combination makes a great leader.  It takes bravery to challenge what everyone expects, but it also takes smarts, logic and patience to be able to back it and provide alternatives or other possible solutions.  See 4 min video as a great example:   Newsroom Clip

This clip has a great way of putting the pressure on the guy to really be innovative, take the approach that is not the norm.  And such a key thing is to always come up with ideas on what we could do to fix a problem.

Mantra:  if you identify the problem then at least come up with possible ideas to help address it (even if concepts).  This is critical since one of the best sources of issue resolution is the issue identifier and this often is not maximized.

Projects are all about new things that are unique and complex and have transient work forces.  So with these work forces, early on you need to show leadership.  With the senior leadership team, often they are so caught up in Operations that they just want to know "How much will it cost", "When will it get done".  They do not have capacity to delve into more complex issues like asking:  "is this the right thing to do, are we following the right approach, do we have the right people in place, etc".  Especially once we start the work, that is like moving a barge, very difficult and painful and if you put your neck out with a challenge, it will be seen as that, so most people associate fear and anxiety with asking the tough questions.

Don't be a one tool person, use both your heart and your brain!!!

Link came from the movie:

The newsroom - why america isn't the greatest country in the world anymore

Thoughts - Culture and Business

Am at a Pow Wow and reminds me of
how important culture is. Old way of business is to all be the same.  Treat all of us the same. New way of business is to embrace and leverage our differences. We all are unique so different opinions are what will ensure innovation and success.

See some beautiful pics.  Is called the parade of nations. We need to continue to better integrate business and our cultures.

Quote from an elder "we are all no different"

Tools - Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) -

People love to know what is their "butt on the line for".  This is where a RAM comes into play. For key project deliverables, always document in a clear manner, who is responsible and what level of responsibility.

Projects, roles, responsibilities and assignments must be clearly communicated and understood by all team members as early as possible in the project life cycle (document and also present openly when possible).  A common tool to help with this is the Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM). The RAM is generally developed within a spreadsheet format (e.g. excel) and defines roles and respective responsibilities associated with key deliverables or tangible outcomes. 

Please see video for additional comments:

 An example is illustrated below:
Gap Analysis
Draft Design
Scope Statement

Be sure to have a clear definition of each parameter, don't be afraid to customize them slightly to align with your project culture:
P – participant (has the option to participate or not)
A – accountable (one person that is ultimately accountable, owns the task)
R – reviewer (actively involved in the work and required to contribute)
I – informed (only receives high level updates to stay informed)
S – sign-off (signs off, second level of ownership behind accountable)

Variations of different RAMs are generally due to the parameters used within the matrix (example above uses PARIS).  Another example often used includes:  RACI (responsible, accountable, consented, informed).

Tools - Top 4 Project Risk Response Strategies -

One of my Favourites! First Identify risk, then Analyze, then Respond. 

Top 4 Risk Response Strategies:
  1. Avoid, 
  2. Transfer, 
  3. Mitigate & 
  4. Accept.

See video below for more details:

Remember, too often we think there is a risk and we jump the gun and say you have to mitigate it.  Not a good thing.  First ensure it is even a risk, that is why we spend time within the stages of Identification and Analysis (most of the time things are perceived risks, not true but got people paranoid and scared).  Then the Response stage is critical to maintain a formal approach.  The definitions in the video help with this.

Project Management = Risk Management, we live it every day, so embrace it and integrate it into our systems.

PMTip - Is Waterfall Methodology Dieing -

Most common PM Methodology is Waterfall, however Spiral and/or Agile are rapidly taking over as leading methods.  See video for thoughts on this...

Often people think these more iterative methodologies are for software projects, but one can easily follow the approach across all industries.  It is a way of thinking, follow that "Deming" model (plan, do, check, act and repeat).

One way you can think about this spiral approach is to maintain the waterfall methodology at the highest level (for strategic planning and the executives) but at the WBS level you need to manage your project following a more modular approach.  Break apart your projects into mini projects and have as much independence as you can.  So the effort required for "Integration" will be much higher.  This is similar to an approach followed when managing Programs (so you could also look at it from that perspective).

Embrace the change and the ability to be flexible and adaptable while rolling out your project.  Have a very good, rapid change control process.  This does not mean do less planning, it is the opposite, you will have to have more planning but it is just with a more dynamic approach.

PMTip - 25 Reasons Projects Succeed -

Makes another nice checklist (like the previous blog), however this is looking at it from a positive perspective.

If at all possible, always talk to the positives, and avoid talking to the negatives.

Read both, there are different ones, but see which you prefer and test your team, see which they remember more of.  Studies always show human will remember positive reinforcement over negative.

General sample of success factors includes:

1)    Strong leadership.
2)    Strong management.
3)    Project management experience.
4)    Understanding and use of formal governance.
5)    Strong yet flexible and efficient change control processes.
6)    Business sponsors take ownership and accountability for project results.
7)    Project manager has access to sponsor.
8)    Project team is well trained.
9)    Reporting, measurement and feedback systems are formalized.
10) Formalized communication pathways established.
11) Detailed scheduling and tracking of resources and task completion.
12) Estimation process and formalized approaches utilized.
13) Project management is integrated with current shared database technology.
14) Project stakeholders are trained and confident with PM softwares.
15) Best practices and methodologies are followed.
16) Projects aligned with corporate strategies and objectives.
17) Well defined products or services.
18) Flexible yet robust plans for change management.
19) Be proactive, manage risk, spend time planning up front.
20) Quality and risk management are part of the culture
21) Understanding and acknowledgement of how priorities sit (S,T,C)
22) Positive thinking and enthusiasm enabled
23) Understanding and acknowledgement of conflict (part of passion)
24) Ability to cross between multiple methodologies
25) Collaboration with Project management offices and inter-related project offices


PMTip - 25 Reasons Projects Fail -

This can be a nice little checklist...

It is looking from a perspective of general things to not do in a project:

1)    Inadequate planning.
2)    Unclear scope or requirements.
3)    Uninvolved stakeholders.
4)    Unreal expectations
5)    Absence of communication with all levels of stakeholders.
6)    Late or inaccurate communication.
7)    Scope creep (poor change control).
8)    Unclear roles and responsibilities.
9)    Poor resource planning.
10) Risks not identified and responded to in advance.
11) Incomplete handoffs.
12) Project manager lacks authority.
13) Resource conflicts.
14) Customer feedback unavailable.
15) Lack of customer involvement.
16) Lack of customer understanding of project
17) Lack of consistent approach or methodology.
18) Lack of escalation processes.
19) Poor estimating.
20) Poor or unrealistic scheduling.
21) Lack of experience by project team members.
22) Project manager managing too many projects.
23) Project manager doing instead of managing.
24) Rapidly shifting organizational priorities. 
25) Corporate goals not clearly known.