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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Project Goes Live

As many of you know I manage IT projects. While I don't work in an IT department, I still have to manage many of the issues that involve technology. One of the challenges I have had with my current project is getting everybody to agree on and put status updates to the Project Issues List.

A project issues list is key tool to track issues as they arise during and after implementation. If you aren't using one you are setting yourself up to fail.

The issues list should contain:

* A description of the issue

* The person responsible for resolving the issue

* When the issue was opened

* When the issues is expected to resolved

* Notes regarding the ongoing status of the issue

Remember in project management, "what is not in writing has not been said".

Keep and issues list and update it regularly. Finally, negotiate expected resolution dates with those that are responsible for resolving the issues.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The "19 Es" of Excellence by Tom Peters

You can also find it as a PDF on Tom's website

The "19 Es" of Excellence:

Enthusiasm. (Be an irresistible force of nature!)

Energy. (Be fire! Light fires!)

Exuberance. (Vibrate—cause earthquakes!)

Execution. (Do it! Now! Get it done! Barriers are baloney! Excuses are for wimps! Accountability is gospel! Adhere to the Bill Parcells doctrine: "Blame nobody! Expect nothing! Do something!")

Empowerment. (Respect and appreciation rule! Always ask, "What do you think?" Then listen! Then let go and liberate! Then celebrate!)

Edginess. (Perpetually dancing at the frontier, and a little or a lot beyond.)

Enraged. (Determined to challenge & change the status quo!)

Engaged. (Addicted to MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around. In touch. Always.)

Electronic. (Partners with the world 60/60/24/7 via electronic community building and entanglement of every sort. Crowdsourcing rules!)

Encompassing. (Relentlessly pursue diverse opinions—the more diversity the merrier! Diversity per se "works"!)

Emotion. (The alpha. The omega. The essence of leadership. The essence of sales. The essence of marketing. The essence. Period. Acknowledge it.)

Empathy. (Connect, connect, connect with others' reality and aspirations! "Walk in the other personĂ¢€™s shoes"—until the soles have holes!)

Experience. (Life is theater! Make every activity-contact memorable! Standard: "Insanely Great"/Steve Jobs; "Radically Thrilling"/BMW.)

Eliminate. (Keep it simple!)

Errorprone. (Ready! Fire! Aim! Try a lot of stuff and make a lot of booboos and then try some more stuff and make some more booboos—all of it at the speed of light!)

Evenhanded. (Straight as an arrow! Fair to a fault! Honest as Abe!)

Expectations. (Michelangelo: "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." Amen!)

Eudaimonia. (Pursue the highest of human moral purpose—the core of Aristotle's philosophy. Be of service. Always.)

Excellence. (The only standard! Never an exception! Start now! No excuses! If not Excellence, what? If not Excellence now, when?)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Project Managers Attack! (Rewind)

As a project manager I have had my share of frustrations over the course of my career. Some days while working on certain projects I feel like why bother. I get to the point of thinking, if others don't care about the project's objectives, why should I? I can only give one good reason why the project manager should care about their projects; THAT IS WHAT WE GET PAID TO DO!

Certainly there are other reasons to care: a sense of ownership, responsibility to our customers, a commitment to finish what we started, personal pride, professional integrity, because it is the right thing to do, because others are counting on us, because as leaders we must always do what is expected, etc, etc, etc...

Project managers wear many hats. We are members of teams, leaders of teams, we are followers, we are stakeholders, we are fiscal planners, we are risk managers, risk takers, planners, schedulers, mentors, quality assurance reps, writers, motivators, listeners, we are empathetic, we are sympathetic, we demonstrate common sense when others don't, we demonstrate a fair and balanced approach to problems, and lots more.... You get the idea. You can see why we are sometimes frustrated. You can see why we need to be as professional as we can all the time.

I have communicated with many people that read this blog, and there is a lot of frustration out there in the Project Management world. The consensus seems to be that yes, there are organizations that do a good job of Project Management and have a great support structure for their project managers. But, it seems that a large majority of organizations don't do a very good job implementing and/or supporting project management, and according to what I hear, quite a few do a terrible job.

In many organizations the project manager position (if one exists) isn't viewed as a profession, but a job that can be performed by virtually anyone in the organization. That can be frustrating for those of us that consider ourselves to be professionals. We all get frustrated sometimes no matter what job we have. We all feel like we aren’t being supported which can lead us to believe that we are being “setup to fail”.

You know what, we all get paid to do a job, and sometimes the job isn't easy, fun, or structured the way we would like. If our managers value us as individuals then they should be willing to hear our ideas about what we need to be successful.

Keep in mind; the project manager can’t be successful on his or her own. They need a management structure in place that is committed to seeing Project Management succeed. Management must at least agree that Project Management adds or can add Value. Management must be able to state the Value that Project Management is adding or should be adding to the organization. If management can’t do that then you probably need to find a new place to work. It is that important.

Rule #1 - Team Conflict hurts Projects!

Team members need to remember that they must manage their departmental responsibilities as well as their project tasks to support the project to which they are assigned. Their management needs to assist the team members in setting priorities so that the project work doesn't suffer when the departmental work becomes more important.

Rule 2 - Management Apathy Hurts Projects!

All levels of impacted management must remember that if they are not engaged and interested in a project's success then their lack of support is a major contributor to project failure.

Rule #3 - Poor Planning Hurts Projects!

Project Management can only work when the project manager is given time to plan properly. Also, the project sponsor must explain the project's objectives clearly, and most importantly, obtain the entire team's commitment to meet the all of the project's objectives (this is a critical planning component). Simple project management principle: If you Fail to Plan, then you Plan to Fail. The failure to allow enough time for proper project planning is the sponsor's fault.

Keep fighting the Good Fight!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Quotes to Ponder for the New Year

An old boss sent me these several years ago. I like them all!

No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking. Voltaire

I do the best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing it to the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference. Abraham Lincoln

Doubt whom you will, but never yourself

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. George Bernard Shaw

The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck. Channing Pollock

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it – but all that had gone before. Jacob Riis

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. Andrew Carnegie

Success is a journey, not a destination. Ben Sweetland

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. John Wooden

Act as though it were impossible to fail.

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps. David Lloyd George

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Eddie Rickenbacher

All of the significant battles are waged within self. Sheldon Kopp