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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Being on Time

My dad always stressed to me the importance of being on time.  It is unfair and rude to others to consistently be late to meetings, appointments, and get togethers.  There is a good article by Tim Sanders over on his website entitled "Early Is The New On-Time".

In the article Tim's says -  (Click here for link to full article)

"Promise made, promise kept - That's a principle I hold dear. 
This was taught to me early in life by my grandmom, who raised me.  She believed that we should keep our promises for ourselves (self-image) as well as for others (politeness, reputation).  In her day, it was a basic measure of integrity, whether you are keeping a promise as an individual, a city or even a nation.
Unfortunately, when it comes to being on time or on schedule, we live in a nation of tardies.  This is profoundly true in the technology and creative community.
When I worked at Yahoo, the parking garage was almost empty until around 9:30, then it gradually filled up - and stayed full well past 6pm.  Meetings never started on time, as most participants filed in fashionably late.  When seasoned execs joined the company (after the dotcom bust), they were horrified by this cultural practice...wondering how people could get-stuff-done in such a slack environment. 
Worse, the advent of the mobile phone has enabled anyone to run late, so long as they call (or text) to say they are "stuck in traffic/meeting/etc."  In the old days, you didn't like to be late because of the stress of the unknown, but now that your manager can say, "It's OK, take your time," then why run on time? 
This mentality has bled into enterprise level tardiness: Product launches and project implementations that run late or are re-scheduled at the first sign of complication.  Over the last decade, it's culminated into a late-running nation of professionals that can't be depended on to be on time."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Planning Steps for Dummies

One of the biggest reasons projects fail is because groups/organizations use an adhoc or random non-repeatable method to plan the work. Minor issues and details are overlooked in the “planning” phase that can turn into major problems down the road. It happens all the time. Combine the normal corporate bad communication with worker incompetency, mix in some management apathy, and you are setting yourself for disaster.

Poor planning, organizational miscommunication, and employee/employer errors mixed with a lack of training can be expensive and sometimes catastrophic (Think NASA).

What can be done? How about applying some basic project management processes to the work? Below are some very simple steps to get started. There are many more to consider depending on the size of your project, but we must realize that some organizations need to move away from today’s chaos and get back to basics right away.

Four Simple Steps

STEP 1 - Divide the work down into tasks that must be completed. Then continue to break the tasks down into smaller tasks. No task should take more than a day (two at most).

One reason that projects are delivered late is because project managers aren’t breaking down the work into smaller and smaller tasks (decomposition). Small tasks are easier to estimate and manage. Remember, good estimates are the foundation of on-time, on-budget projects.

STEP 2 - Sequence your tasks by dependency
If you don’t establish your dependencies you don’t have a timeline since dependencies help establish duration.

STEP 3 - Verifiable Milestones
What pieces of the project will you deliver and when. Remember the old saying, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

STEP 4 - Assign tasks to people not groups
Get everything on paper. Remember my favorite project management rule “what is not in writing has not been said”. Also, ensure everyone understands their role and responsibilities. No matter what you do there will always be somebody that can’t follow instructions or refuses to fall in line. These people need to be brought into line or moved off the project quickly.

Miscommunication is fatal to projects. Always communicate in multiple ways; – face-to-face, team meetings, status reports, e-mail (as a last resort). Monitor progress, give feedback continuously, and document, document, document.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Time Wasted

As project managers we are very focused on time. As time passes, we often find that our project and personal objectives aren’t being achieved. We look back at our project or personal goals and see ways we could have done things differently that would have saved us time. We agonize over the loss of time, and look for ways to do more with less, or look to find additional resources to help make up for the lack of time.
A while back I was sent a link to a website that brings the topic of time to the forefront. It has significant meaning, especially when applied to our personal lives. Be sure you have your sound turned up on your device and give the link a try.

Check out the site at: The Time Movie

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Art of Life and Project Management

"The art of life lies in a constant readjustment of our surroundings.” - Kakuzo Okakura .....

"The art of project management lies in the constant readjustment to changing conditions" - Author Unknown .....