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Monday, October 11, 2021

Project Management Office Setup Thoughts

  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of existing project managers and project support personnel
  • Develop a basic project management training plan for the entire organization to familiarize all with the project management verbiage and practices
  • Identify and provide specialized advanced training for all project leaders and functional managers
  • Develop a project management office (PMO) to provide enterprise coaching, and to develop and manage your organization’s project management methodology
  • In addition to the methodology, the PMO should develop and maintain standard project management templates for the organization to use
  • Ensure that existing projects are audited and meet your organization’s minimum project management standards
  • Setup a program where your PMO provides coaching to less experienced project managers and oversight of all enterprise projects
  • Ensure all projects have Lessons Learned captured

Monday, September 27, 2021

Cleverness and Problems

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 must include input from your lead project managers and any other personnel that have a stake in your project management outcomes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Dogma and Open-Mindedness

Dogma is living with the results of other people's thinking. Be careful when allowing the opinions of others to smother your inner voice, but do remain open-minded to new ideas and information.

Open-mindedness - When we close our minds to new information or opinions it is often because they go against our beliefs or take us out of our comfort zone.  Admitting to ourselves that new ideas and information that go against what we feel is right may make us feel that we were/are wrong.  That is OK.  Open-minded people are open to new ideas and new information even it they have to admit in the end they were wrong when believing something else.

As a project manager we rely on our beliefs and experiences and the beliefs and experiences of others to bring our projects to success.  Be open-minded and encourage everyone on your team to express their ideas and opinions.

Friday, September 10, 2021

 People and Life

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

As a project manager there is no more important responsibility on your project than working with your stakeholders to establishing trust and creating an environment that is built on respect and follow through.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Listening is Hard!

Listening is hard because it involves keeping your ego constrained long enough to consider what is being said before formulating your response.

Wisdom often lies in the pause between stimulus and response.

Few people listen well, which makes good listeners all the more relevant and important.

When someone starts talking, our focus should be:

1. Listening intentionally to what they are saying

2. Ignoring patterns in their speech and forming conclusions 

3. Putting said about whether we agree with what they are saying until they have finished   speaking

When we quickly prepare responses as a listener the conversation becomes about us. When the other person does the same meaningful communication ceases to occur.

Rather than making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person's perspective. You don't have to agree with them, but you owe it to them to be respectful and open minded.  

Remember and put to use one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits - Seek first to understand then be understood.

We should make it a habit to seek understanding with one another.  A conversation is not a competition to make a point, but rather an exploration of each others thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and biases.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Your Last Project

It has been said “You only live as long as the last person that remembers you”.

In Project Management it has been said that “You are only as good as your last project”.  While this statement may see unfair, it is nonetheless true in many environments.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Be, Say, and Do!


Three action steps when working with others, per Ajayi Jones

1. Be: Write down what’s important to you, and what’s worth fighting for. 

2. Say: When you don’t see eye to eye with your boss or disagree with the rest of the room, ask yourself these three questions. If you answer “Yes” to all three, speak up.

“Do I mean it?” 

“Can I defend it?”

“Can I say it thoughtfully?

3. Do: Match your thoughts with your actions

Fair warning: Just because you follow these steps, it doesn’t mean your team will automatically be on the same page. It’s more that these practices force you to check in with yourself, and know that you said what you needed to say. 

You’ll leave the discussion knowing you tried.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Variety is the Spice of Life

It has been said that variety is the spice of life.  We can fear variety (change) because of its unknown impact be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological.  Variety often means trusting others and stepping into the unknown with courage.

You must embrace change to experience the spice of life!

Tom Brady has some thoughts about change Life is about always changing and adapting to different things. Today, the world wants to blame, and shame, and guilt, and fear everything all the time”

Do you blame others when changes go wrong?  Do you fear change? 

Sometimes it takes courage to embrace Variety!

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Ignorance of Things

Nobody should be embarrassed for not being familiar with the Sunning-Kruger effect, the cognitive bias in which the more incompetent or ignorant you are about something the better or more knowledgeable you think you are at that thing.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

From - The primary difference between the two words is that wisdom involves a healthy dose of perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a subject while knowledge is simply knowing. 

Anyone can become knowledgeable about a subject by reading, researching, and memorizing facts. ... Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”

Monday, June 22, 2020

Project Management Similar to Creating Art

"A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not.  It is the discipline to discard what does not fit - to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort that distiguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life"

Author Unknown

Monday, February 10, 2020

Top Ten List

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. Earlsy 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?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Creating Trust

"What creates trust, in the end, is the leader's manifest respect for the followers" - Jim O'Toole, Leadership Change.

A leadership void exists when the goals of the leaders aren't embraced by the followers.  Respect, or lack of it plays a big part in helping to create this void.

Some leadership principles I have come to believe are:

Be consistent in what you say and do. Inconsistency shows a lack of focus. Being inconsistent will undermine your credibility with others.

As a leader you will need to provide focus, constancy of purpose, and clear direction to your team. The problem with many leaders isn't a lack of personality or charisma, it is a lack of focus and follow-through.

When leading remember "beware of no man more than thyself" - Thomas Fuller. Ask for feedback from others. Remember the higher the leader is in an organization the more blind spots he or she will experience.

A good leader is a master of the big picture and is knowledgeable of the details. A leader that isn't willing to get involved in the details is just plain lazy and won't have the respect of the team they are leading.

Be careful about negative assumptions. Leaders that are high achievers know their behavior tells the truth about their assumptions.

Leaders ensure that their followers know where they fit into the big picture.

Leaders who underestimate the intellect of others tend to overestimate their own.

Other things that are always displayed by a leader are the ability to:

Create and nurture a vision


Leave your ego at the door

Think before acting (not quick to criticize)

Be a risk taker

State and meet commitments

Be a role model

Have a can do attitude

Encourage success

and finally...BE VISIBLE

Monday, February 19, 2018

Free Advice Retold!

Tell somebody you care, and how much they really mean to you. Let them know how they have changed your life

If you have children, encourage them with love, and let them know they are a blessing to you

If you live to make more money, get a (new) life!

If you aren't having fun doing your job, move on to something new

Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes - Tom Peters!

Embrace change and do all you can to expose unethical behavior

Don't allow deadbeat managers and/or lazy executives to ruin your career or influence your project. 

Gossiping is for children and old women.  Don't be a part of the office gossip loop.

Great leaders with ethics and a solid morale center are rare. I hamve never met one; however I'm sure they exist.  Seek them out with everything you have

Executives have forgotten how to be leaders. Because of this, we have a 200 billion dollar trade deficit, stock option scandals, CEOs going to prison, massive layoffs, outsourcing to India, disloyal workers, and a plethora of corrupt politicians

Make sure before you go to work for an organization you know who is running the show

Love the unlovable

Be nutty at work, somebody will appreciate the break in the monotony

Find a manager in your company that is doing a bad job and ask them about the middle management shake up that is eminent. Walk away quickly before they can respond

Look at yourself in the mirror closely for 60 seconds. Feel really bad that you look so old, then remember that life is precious and be thankful to God that tomorrow is a new day

Challenge authority when it makes sense

Project managers can't be wimps

Don't respect unrespectable people. Avoid them, workaround them, go through them. They are career killers

If you like to solve problems and make a difference, work for a non-profit or charity

Be a blessing to somebody

Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Saturday, February 03, 2018

A Glimpse at my Project Management Beliefs

Remove people from your team that don’t ask questions, don’t talk with other team members, won’t provide documentation, or won’t do analysis

Only people that aren’t competent won’t show off their work

Question authority or live with the result

A sense of humor can help get teams through tough times

A working meeting should have no more than five people. Meetings with more than five should be reserved for providing updates or relaying information

Project failure is planned at the beginning of the project

Project initiation is the most important project phase

Be honest in all your dealings

Project managers are expected to offer their opinions, but be accountable for their words

When it comes to project scope, what is not in writing has not been said

Have verifiable milestones

End of project surveys must be completed and the results distributed to the team

Bad conclusions lead to more bad conclusions

Documented assumptions are believed to be true for planning purposes

The best lessons learned come from failures

Without data you only have an opinion

Data doesn’t tell the whole story

Bad data leads to bad decisions

Senior management is usually clueless when it comes to what your project is all about

A bad project team will never deliver good project results

If your project sponsor isn’t responsive you should put your project on-hold until such time they can become involved

The bottleneck is at the top of the bottle

A project manager’s main job is to keep the customer happy

At the end of a project if you have met all scope, quality, budget, and schedule objectives, but the customer isn’t satisfied your project is a failure

Documentation doesn’t replace knowledge

Most people want to do good work. Many times they don’t have the tools or information they need to perform well, or they aren’t managed properly

Project managers aren’t successful if their team members aren’t successful

Not all successful project managers are competent and not all unsuccessful project managers are incompetent. Sometimes you just have to be lucky

Good project managers are insecure by nature

An introvert can’t be a (successful) project manager

A project manager with lots of enemies won’t be successful over the long run

You must be a relationship guru and be ready to fall on the sword sometimes

A project manager must be a motivator

If you don’t listen, you can’t plan

Project managers deal with change. You must be the change agent for your project. Your project sponsor is the change salesman

Monday, January 22, 2018

Business Case Template - Adapt to your needs

Try this template out and make changes based on your needs.  This was used by a government organization, but can be easily modified for use by the private sector. 

CLICK HERE for the Business Template

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Stuff I Use - Classé Sigma 2200i Integrated Amplifier

Stuff I recommend...

A personal project this time, upgrading my two channel audio system.

The Classé integrated amplifier has a ton of features and sounds great.  I have owned it for eight months.  Awesome!

Classé Sigma 2200i integrated amplifier Measurements |

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Important Words for the Project Manager

The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake"

The five most important words: "You did a good job."

The four most important words: "What is your opinion?

The three most important words: "If you please"

The two most important words: "Thank You"

The one most important word: "We"

The least important word: "I"

Cheat Sheets Give Teams a Helping Hand When Dealing with Change

Click here for a template I made years ago for an Operations and Maintenance Team

Monday, March 27, 2017

Project Management and Maximo Presentation - IBM Pulse Conference 2008

Click here for Slide Deck located on Google Drive

Feedback is appreciated!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Estimates are Usually Guesstimates!

I have been burned more times than I can count by bad estimates. What can a project manager do to help ensure the accuracy of estimates?  First we should understand the basics behind the estimating process (there are many more than I have listed here). Some are:

• The more unique , complex, or larger the project, the more of a challenge it will be to get good estimates 

• Estimates are only as good as the estimator is at predicting the future 

• "Padded" estimates are not always bad as long as the padding is communicated (... and as long as the Project Manager is the one doing the "padding") 

• An estimate is not a bid

• Estimates using sound estimating practices, performed by experienced estimators from clear specifications should never be negotiated 

• Ballpark estimates are guesses and should be treated as much by the project team, management, and the project sponsor

Other items to consider when estimating are:

• Ensure the statement of work or contract is clear and understood by the person(s) doing the estimates 

• Ensure that a schedule or mandated date doesn't drive the estimating thought process 

• Include Risk Management in the estimating process 

• Ensure that estimates take into account the skill level(s) of the person(s) that will do the work 

• If your work breakdown structure (WBS) is flawed, your estimates will be inaccurate

Accurate estimating is an art and a science. The estimator (or team) must take into account historical data from past projects, the team's knowledge and experience, the project risks, the statement of work and other project information to make the best estimate possible.

Keep in mind when planning your project that estimates aren't hard and fast numbers. They are guesses, however they should be very good guesses if you have good estimators and are following tried and true estimating practices. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Your Must Fail to Succeed!

If you are an "experienced" project manager and haven't had a few project failures, in my mind, you aren't a very good project manager. Project managers must constantly push their team members towards exceeding their comfort levels, take (calculated) risks, be decisive, make firm commitments, and be aggressive when base-lining and managing the triple constraints (Time, Cost, Quality). Just like a successful NASCAR driver, a project manager must learn to live close to the edge of disaster, but while doing so, he or she must aggressively manage their project’s Risks. 

In my opinion, too many project managers are unwilling to set firm expectations with their team for fear of being unpopular. There are going to be times when your project team doesn't really care if a milestone is missed or a promise isn't kept. The problem is your project isn't always your team’s top concern. Don’t forget that. You live with and for your project and at the same time some of your team members might loathe your project. Many team members have other responsibilities outside of your project and your project may be preventing them from doing their regular job. 

Project Tip - If you find that you have members on your project team that aren't 100% committed to achieving the goals of your project, you need to start thinking about replacing them. 

Based upon my experience, - at least on IT projects - most project problems that are encountered in the Project Execution phases are the fault of the project manager. Proper Risk Management will help the project manager foresee and mitigate many problems that will arise during project execution. If you have lots of problems and issues on your project you did a poor job of Risk Management in the planning phase. 

Some things to keep in mind to avoid failure when planning your project: 

Be crystal clear when communicating with your team. All important communications should be in writing. 

Don't allow project committees or executive oversight groups to dictate how you plan your project. 

Communicate quickly to your team and senior management if you believe that your project is out of control. 

Don't assume that suppliers or vendors will be honest with you. Make sure you continually follow-up and get commitments in writing (preferably in the contract). 

Split your project into manageable phases. 

Ensure that your end users are involved every step of the way. 

Communicate Status as often as is needed. Include bad news, problems, issues, and concerns in your status report and be sure to include how you plan to overcome them. 

Don't let your project fail because you aren't communicating or your team isn't functioning properly. 

Believe in the statement that “Project failure is always the Project Manager's fault”! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Absent Executive - replayed

Ever had a project that begins with strong executive/senior management support and over time that support fades?

The symptoms of executive disintrest are:

Executives/senior management don't ask questions during status meetings or stop coming to the meetings

Executives/senior management lack a sense of urgency regarding "your" project

Executives/senior management become more confused and/or less supportive over time regarding project goals and objectives

Executives/senior management begin to focus on what has been "installed" vs. what business results have been realized

The project sponsor(s) becomes detached and less available for project updates

Executives, sponsors, and stakeholders start to forget the culture and try to force solutions to meet deadlines

I know first hand that executives/senior management will tell you they support your project, and then turnaround and encourage resistance in their departments, and allow or ignore passive-aggressive behaviors of key staff members regarding the project's goals and objectives. What can be done? Here are some ideas; however you must realize that your project is in serious trouble if you have observed the behaviors listed above.

Calculate the costs of the project so far. Consider scaling back the project or killing it all together. I know from experience that this is much easier said than done.

Identify key executives and stakeholders and meet with them personally and restate the projects benefits. If they still aren't sold or supportive, move on to the next group. Ensure you create a Scope Change and de-scope portions of the project that aren't getting support.

Reevaluate the project team. Do you need new people? Are they really focused on meeting the project's objectives and scope? Are the project's objectives and scope still realistic, attainable and relevant?

Reevaluate the organization's culture and re-plan the project if needed. Reset expectations, and identify sources of resistance. If the culture can't be changed quickly, perhaps the project's objectives, goals, and/or scope need to be adjusted.

Remember, project failure rests on the project manager's and project sponsor's shoulders. Sometimes senior management is too busy to get or stay involved, however that doesn't release them from their responsibility to support your project. Determine if they are too busy or just too lazy to support your project. Not easy to do, but absolutely necessary.

Remember what Dr. Stephen Covey says is the 4th Discipline (The 4 Disciplines of Execution) - "Hold Each Other Accountable - All of the Time". If you are a project manager it is your job to hold all levels of the organization accountable for project success. Having said that, you must proceed with caution if you plan to do this with executives. Be tactful and respectful; however, don't let them off the hook!

A recent survey found that only 39 percent of workers feel highly energized and committed to their organization's most important goals. This survey includes executives and senior managers. Just because they have the title doesn't mean they will behave responsibly or be focused on doing the right things right!

Executives, senior management, and your project sponsor(s) may say they support you and your project, but it is up to you to figure out if they really are being supportive. Silence is not acceptance when it comes to dealing with the decision makers. When they stop asking questions, you are in deep trouble.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Seven Step Path to Sustaining Project Success

Tom Peter's Wisdom!

You take care of the people.
The people take care of the service.
The service takes care of the customer.
The customer takes care of the profit.
The profit takes care of the re-investment.
The re-investment takes care of the re-invention.
The re-invention takes care of the future.
(And at every step the only measure is EXCELLENCE.)

More project wisdom at 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tom Peters!

The Top 27: Twenty-seven Practical Ideas That Will Transform Every Organization

1. Learn to thrive in unstable times—our lot (and our opportunity) for the foreseeable future.

2. Only putting people first wins in the long haul, good times and especially tough times. (No "cultural differences" on that one! Colombia = Germany = the USA.)

3. MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around. Stay in touch!

4. Call a customer today!

5. Train! Train! Train! (Growing people outperform stagnant people in terms of attitude and output—by a wide margin.)

6. "Putting people first" means making everyone successful at work (and at home).

7. Make "we care" a/the company motto—a moneymaker as well as a source of pride.

8. All around the world, women are an undervalued asset.

9. Diversity is a winning strategy, and not for reasons of social justice: The more different perspectives around the table, the better the thinking.

10. Take a person in another function to lunch; friendships, lots of, are the best antidote to bad cross-functional task accomplishments. (Lousy cross-functional communication stops companies and armies alike.)

11. Transparency in all we do.

12. Create an "Innovation Machine" (even in tough times). (Hint: Trying more stuff than the other guy is Tactic #1.)

13. We always underestimate the Innovation Advantage when 100% of people see themselves as "innovators." (Hint: They are if only you'd bother to ask "What can we do better?")

14. Get the darned Basics right—always Competitive Advantage #1. (Be relentless!)

15. Great Execution beats great strategy—99% of the time. (Make that 100% of the time.)

16. A "bias for action" is a "bias for success." (Great hockey player Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.")

17. No mistakes, no progress! (A lot of fast mistakes, a lot of fast progress.) (Australian businessman Phil Daniels: "Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.")

18. Sometimes "little stuff" is more powerful than "big stuff" when it comes to change.

19. Keep it simple! (Making "it" "simple" is hard work! And pays off!)

20. Remember the "eternal truths" of leadership—constants over the centuries. (They say Nelson Mandela's greatest asset was a great smile—you couldn't say no to him, even his jailors couldn't.)

21. Walk the talk. ("You must be the change you wish to see in the world."—Gandhi)

22. When it comes to leadership, character and people skills beat technical skills. (Emotional Intelligence beats, or at least ties, school intelligence.)

23. It's always "the little things" when it comes to "people stuff." (Learn to say "thank you" with great regularity. Learn to apologize when you're wrong. Learn the Big Four words: "What do you think?" Learn to listen—it can be learned with lots and lots of practice.)

24. The "obvious" may be obvious, but "getting the obvious done" is harder said than done.

25. Time micro-management is the only real "control" variable we have. (You = Your calendar. Calendars never lie.)

26. All managers have a professional obligation to their communities and their country as well as to the company and profit and themselves. (Forgetting this got the Americans into deep trouble.)

27. EXCELLENCE. ALWAYS. (What else?)