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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ten Project Ideas from Florida Power and Light



Florida Power and Light management came up with the list below of the ten most important things they think helped them complete the St. Lucie 2 Nuclear Power Plant on schedule, within cost, and without major quality issues.

  1. Management Commitment
  2. A realistic and firm schedule
  3. Clear decision-making authority
  4. Flexible project control tools
  5. Teamwork
  6. Maintaining engineering before construction (design before build)
  7. Early start-up involvement
  8. Organizational flexibility
  9. Ongoing critique of the project
  10. Close coordination with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (strong, fair oversight)
This is an awesome list that can be adapted to any environment and project.  Do you have a top ten list of things you need for your project to be successful?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Principles are Lacking

Principles are mile posts that help to guide our conduct. They come from natural laws that are recognizable by all cultures. Principles have been around since the dawn of time. They are timeless and aren’t dependent on us making them a permanent part of our lives.

Big problems cannot be solved by small people and small mindedness. Remember, principles aren’t values. The Mafia has values, but their practices certainly aren’t related to principles. As Stephen Covey say’s “Principles are the territory. Values are the map”.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wisdom and the Project Manager

Albert Einstein said "A clever person solves a problem; a wise person avoids it". After reading this quote, it reminded me that project managers spend a lot of time (or should be) avoiding problems. One thing that can help project managers to avoid problems is following a defined process, or more specifically, a Project Management Methodology (PMM). At its core a PMM is a set of agreed-upon processes that assists project managers to deliver predictable project outcomes.

To create a PMM you need to define all project management processes, procedures and policies used to deliver your organization's projects. Also, don't forget to develop or obtain a set of project templates as they are an important part of any PMM. Finally, you must develop a training program to introduce and educate your organization about the new PMM.

KEY POINT - When developing a PMM ensure you include input from your lead project managers and any other personnel that have a stake in your project management outcomes.
Once your PMM is implemented ensure you measure the results and make adjustments where necessary. If you need help in developing your PMM there are many products that can assist you and your organization to develop a custom PMM that works for you.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wow Culture

 Zappo's Ten Corporate Values

Deliver “WOW!” through service


Embrace and drive change

Create fun and a little weirdness

Be adventurous, creative and open-minded

 Pursue growth and learning

Build open and honest relationships with 
communication

Build a positive team and family spirit

Do more with less

Be passionate and determined

Be humble

Source: Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com            

Monday, May 26, 2014

Great Project Managers

I have a book entitled “What Makes a Good Project Manager” by James S. Pennypacker and Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin. In the book, there is a reference to a 2001 ComputerWorld article that discusses “The Perfect Project Manager”. The consensus of the article was in the world of Information Technology (IT) there are three general areas of Project Management competency: Technology, Business, and Behavior (in no certain order).

One of the CIOs interviewed in the ComputerWorld article stated “in order to motivate IT workers, you need … an understanding of human behavior and how to motivate teams.” Do not miss this important point. Project Managers are primarily team leaders, motivators, and communicators. Project Managers will not be successful managing IT projects if they do not have an understanding of basic human behavior.

It has also been determined there are three Project Management skills that are required for success in IT:

General Management Skills

Project Management Skills

IT Management Skills

Under General Management, the key areas of expertise are (not in order):

Thinking Skills

Organizational Awareness

Leadership

Interpersonal Relations

Communication Skills

Many companies are now interviewing Project Managers placing a heavy emphasis on character traits versus professional competencies. These companies realize if a Project Manager cannot get along well with others and have poor communication skills they will not be successful.

The key to project success is having a competent project manager and the number one competency of a project manager is honesty. Research has shown that projects are more likely to fail because the human elements are not managed. In order to mitigate this type of risk project managers need to develop skills that support sound decision-making, good communications, motivational techniques, and conflict management.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Off the Cuff: Tom Peters on Front Line Managers

Project Management Politics

Politics is the art of getting things done (influencing).  

As Tom Peters say's “No Politics = No Implementation”.

  Develop powerful allies in your organization to help you get your project implemented.  Be sure to show appreciation to all those people that help you along the way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

You Aren't Communicating!


When project teams are surveyed at the end of failed projects, poor communications is always cited as being one of the major causes. Why does this keep happening? Why is project communications so poorly executed so often. My short answer is that many project managers are arrogant, inattentive, and oblivious to the feelings and needs of the project team.

Project managers get busy. Many times they don't make time to manage project communications properly. Also, the project manager may think they are doing a good job communicating, but that may not be the case.

Project managers must remember that the project team is made up of individuals. Each person on the team has a preference for the types of communication they like to receive, and each person processes communications differently.

Some things to monitor that may point to poor project communications are:

Trust - Does the team trust you (the project manager)? How do you know? Everybody will not trust you all the time. Team members that don't trust the project manager will not be open in their communications. They will tend to either shut down or challenge the project manager at every turn.

De-motivated - Where are we going? Are we going where we said we were going when we started? Did we clearly state where we were going before we started?

Whining - Despair and anxiety take over the team or key team members. Infighting is prevalent and people are starting to talk openly about the project being a failure.

Incompetence - Team isn't sharing information and learning. Perhaps the team has had little to no training, or the training received was of poor quality.

All the above can be overcome, however it requires that the project manager is listening and changing strategy when necessary to get the team back on track. Just because you are a project manager doesn't make you a good communicator, however ignoring problems like the ones mentioned above will make you a bad project manager.

My two cents are, be a leader. Lead through your communication and your ability to motivate your team to get the job done. Be on the lookout for the above warning signs. When you see signs of the warning signs act quickly, follow-up, then continue to monitor.

Poor project team synergy is the fault of the project manager. There are a lot of incompetent project managers that are hurting our profession because they either refuse to alter their communication styles or are too arrogant to change. My advice to them is to change their ways or leave the project management profession.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ignore your Detractors!


Tom Peters a highly regarded speaker and writer said it best in his book The Project 50, “as project managers we should not try to convert our project enemies by overcoming their objections” and I would add through appeasement. Tom states “we should set out to surround and marginalize them; additionally, the most effective change agents ignore the barbs and darts, their time is spent on allies and likely allies”.

It seems to be in our nature to take on those that oppose us, particularly if they have been attacking us behind our backs. This taking on of the opposition is a waste of valuable project time and detracts the project manager from the task at hand. All projects will have detractors, whiners, and complainers. Don’t waste your time trying to convince them of the error of their ways. Let your project’s results answer your critics!

As project managers we need to spend our time working with our advocates and supporters, not answering our critics. If you say you don’t have critics on your project than I say you probably aren’t a very good project manager. The project manager that has friends everywhere on his projects is usually trying to satisfy everyone, and many times at the end of their project – if it ever ends – there will be low overall satisfaction due to all of the tradeoffs that were made between all of the competing interests.

When you push people, demand excellence, set deadlines, push for quality, hold individuals accountable, and are firm on agreed upon commitments you are going to ruffle some feathers. Get over it, and realize no matter what you do on your project there will always be detractors. Just don’t let the detractors sway you from implementing your project on time, on budget, within requirements, and most importantly with a satisfied customer as your biggest fan.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mark Goulston, MD writes:
A toxic person...
    1. Interrupts.
    2. Doesn’t take turns.
    3. Takes advantage of people who are down.
    4. Gloats in victory.
    5. Is sullen in defeat.
    6. Is not fair.
    7. Lacks integrity.
    8. Is the kind of person you’ll avoid if you possibly can.

Three good responses to nearly every type of toxic person...
"Huh?" This one word can stop a jerk in his tracks. Use a mild, neutral tone of voice. Do this when the toxic person says something utterly ridiculous but acts as if he is being perfectly reasonable. This response conveys that what the toxic person is saying doesn’t make sense. It works because it signals that you are not engaging with the content of what he said.
"Do you really believe what you just said?" Use a calm, straightforward tone, not a confrontational one. This question works because toxic people often resort to hyperbole to throw others off balance. They are prone to using the words "always" and "never" to drive home their points. However, don’t expect the toxic person to admit that he is wrong. He is more likely to walk away in a huff -- which is fine because then you won’t have to waste more energy dealing with him.
"I can see how this is good for you. Tell me how it’s good for me." This response is a useful way to deal with a toxic person’s demands. If he stalls or changes the subject, you can say, "Since it’s not clear how this is good for me, I’m going to have to say no."

We say these things?


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Project Management Quotes

Some are a little off the wall, but many are spot on...

Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.

The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

What is not on paper has not been said.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

If you don't attack the risks, the risks will attack you.

A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.

The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.

A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.

If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.

When all's said and done a lot more is said than done.

If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.

Feather and down are padding - changes and contingencies will be real events.

There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.

The more you plan the luckier you get.

A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.

Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.

If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.

Everyone asks for a strong project manager - when they get him they don't want him.

Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager's imagination.

Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.

Good project managers know when not to manage a project.

Metrics are learned men's excuses.

For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.

If there were no problem people there'd be no need for people who solve problems.

Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.

Good project managers admit mistakes: that's why you so rarely meet a good project manager.

Fast - cheap - good: you can have any two.

There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.

The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.

The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.

To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.

Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.

The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.

When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.

If it wasn't for the 'last minute', nothing would get done.

Nothing gets done till nothing gets done.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.

There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.

Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.

If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.

If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.

A project gets a year late one day at a time.

A project isn’t over until the fat check is cashed.

Powerful project managers don't solve problems, they get rid of them