Project Practitioners

A practical view of common issues, and how to deal with them as well as tips and techniques from the field in the world of project, program, and portfolio management.
How To Ensure That Your Projects Take Off Smoothly, Predictably and Effectively - the Power of the "Pre-Flight" Checklist
By ProjectConnections Staff
Those of us who've flown commercially have invariably observed the flight crew busily at work, audibly and meticulously going through a formal checklist process, as we complete the boarding process. This process is performed by the pilot and co-pilot each and every time prior to take-off and covers a multitude of functional checks as well as a visual inspection of the aircraft, all with the singular objective of ensuring and confirming that both they and the aircraft are ready for safe flight. This process is always performed, without fail, for one simple reason - lives are at stake. While most... Read More»

Find A Way Or Make One - The Will-Not-Be-Denied Power of Commitment and Resolve
By ProjectConnections Staff
“We will either find a way, or make one.” Hannibal There's something awe-inspiring about the mountain-moving power of definite, targeted commitment and resolve. It's natural to either opt for a change in direction (an easier way) or to lose steam when encountering what seems to be insurmountable resistance. But I like the metaphor of those small motorized toy many of us enjoyed when we were children, the ones that, when they crashed into a wall or a piece of furniture, would simply back up or in some cases even flip over and continue to soldier on, undeterred in their drive... Read More»

The ROI From Planning
By ProjectConnections Staff
Factoid - Studies have shown that every hour spent planning saves between 6 to 8 hours of misdirected effort and rework (Kimberly M. Wiefling, M.S.). Numerous studies have illuminated the fact that up-front investments in project planning pay off better than any conventional investment yet many managers and even some project team members would rather blindly rush forward into "getting actual work done". One reason for this may be the lure of "activity masquerading as accomplishment". Are there times when a "full speed ahead" mentality is warranted? Certainly, but often these are due to poor planning having resulted in an... Read More»

Project Management As Getting From Point A To Point B
By ProjectConnections Staff
One of my early mentors, Mark M., told me once that project management is actually very simple - "...it's getting from Point A to Point B, as efficiently and effectively as possible". Not glamorous, certainly not sophisticated in today's environment of Monte Carlo simulation and RACI matrices, but there's a certain raw power in the simplicity of this view on what it is that we project managers actually do that I believe is worthy of consideration. As with other professional disciplines, project management has matured and become more complex, richer in texture and nuance over the decades. While most of... Read More»

Beware the Illusion of Activity Masquerading As Achievement - Powerful Advice For Time-Strapped Project Managers
By ProjectConnections Staff
"Never mistake activity for achievement." John Wooden We love the simple power in this quote. We humans love to talk about how "busy" we are, how many hours we've worked, how many e-mails we've responded to, how many meetings we've attended, etc., and we often fall prey to the illusion of activity masquerading as achievement. But at the end of the day, it's worthwhile to question what was really accomplished in the fury of all of that activity. It's not about efficiency, it's about being effective. About making a measurable difference, moving the needle, accomplishing an important (vs. urgent) goal.... Read More»

High-Altitude Leadership - A highly-recommended book
By Cinda Voegtli
(I'm moving this previous post from a private blog to here to make it easily available to everyone. And I still love the book!) The angle this book takes on leadership -- lessons from high-altitude, highly dangerous mountain climbs, results in a fun, interesting read. And I found those lessons to be very concrete and thought-provoking -- and with good coverage of organizational AND project issues, which I have not often seen in leadership books. The full title is High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success. One of the authors is an experienced mountain... Read More»

Call It What It Is
By Ann Drinkwater
Anyone in the project management field has heard of gold plating. For those less familiar with the term it basically means adding features outside the original scope and requirements. Working with teams less familiar with all of the downstream impacts and risks, may think this scenario isn’t that dangerous and will help please the customer. I’m a huge proponent of serving the customer, but often times adding what seems like a small, innocent change to a waterfall led project can delay the project and what had hoped to exceed the customer expectations may end up causing more customer service issues... Read More»

5 Steps to Cultivating an Agile Culture
By Brian Irwin
We’ve all heard the maxim change is difficult. The reasons that change is hard are far too numerous to discuss in a single blog posting. My intent here is to specifically focus on organizational agile transformations and the difficulty of changing culture. Additionally, I want to leave you with some hope. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. There are steps that you can take as an individual that can help the organization as a whole move in the right direction. The 2013 VersionOne State of Agile Survey indicates the top three reasons cited by practitioners for adopting agile... Read More»

What’s the biggest risk an IT project manager faces?
By J LeRoy Ward
We’ve all read the grim statistics regarding IT projects. For years, such highly respected organizations as Standish, Gartner, Forrester, the Government Accountability Office, and others, have reported high failure and abysmally low success, rates. Failed projects usually have three common characteristics: they are completed far in excess of their original budget, are delivered way behind schedule, and often fail to satisfy even the basic functional requirements demanded by their intended recipients. The list of root causes for IT project failure often reads like a rap sheet of a serial offender. The causes are almost always the same, but change in... Read More»

Why no one wants to identify risks
By Cinda Voegtli
Interesting factoid from a recent Risk Management class I taught inside a large, established company: When we discussed why this company is so large, with establisehd processes in other areas, yet not doing project risk management (and in a complex, risky, regulated industry to boot), here is what emerged: Risk identification is not being done consistently or thoroughly on our projects, because our executives see discussion of risk as "Focusing on failure", "denigrating our own capabilities, because it implies we can't do things without making mistakes, or we are not good enough to naturally overcome difficulties" and "if you bring... Read More»




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