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»

Relax/Center/Focus Like Navy SEAL Trainees Do With the 4/4/4 Technique
By ProjectConnections Staff
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm always on the prowl for techniques to increase and optimize my personal effectiveness. Having never had the priviledge of serving in the military, I've always been fascinated by how the services take raw civilians and turn them into fighting machines, ready and willing to serve and if necessary, lay down their lives at a moment's notice. The individuals who make this sacrifice are worthy of our deep respect and gratitude and perhaps none are more deserving of these accolades than the Navy SEALS, one of our nation's most elite fighting units.... Read More»

The Role of Chance In Project Management
By ProjectConnections Staff
“Project management is the art of creating the illusion that any outcome is the result of a series of predetermined, deliberate acts when, in fact, it was dumb luck.” Harold Kerzner While there is a grain of truth to this observation, I'm not sure that I totally agree with Mr. Kerzner on the fact that project outcomes (bad OR good) are due to "dumb luck". It's a somewhat fatalistic view which seems to imply that planning is a futile activity and on that point, I couldn't disagree more. That said, I also think it's naive to think that we can... Read More»

The True Impact of Missed Or Not-Included Work
By ProjectConnections Staff
In the rush to "start the real work" or avoid the discomfort of including activities where there is a great deal of uncertainty, project teams often trivialize the impact of missed work on schedules, not to mention budgets, thinking they can always "fit it in" somewhere down the line with minimal effect. That's a dangerous illusion. There will always be activities that cannot be planned at the appropriate level of detail because they are dependent on outputs from earlier activities or because of other current unknowns. The answer is not to not include them or hope that you'll be able... 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 Power of Early Intervention
By ProjectConnections Staff
Many project managers wait too long to take action when schedule slippage occurs. Sometimes it's due to inertia, sometimes work overload or bigger fish to fry and sometimes, it's hoping that the problem will fix itself or that "we'll make it up later". This last scenario is probably the most dangerous because it's based on deluding oneself. While every project is different and the appropriate threshhold at which one should intervene or at least investigate is context-dependent, the fact is that the longer intervention is delayed, the lower the chances of recovery (assuming an achievable schedule to begin with). Remember,... 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 - "'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»

The One and Only Thing You Can Do That's Virtually Guaranteed To Change Your Circumstances
By ProjectConnections Staff
"It’s essential that you be clear on this: the only way you can impact your life in one direction or another is by taking action. The world does not care what you think, want, care about, etc. It only moves for you when you act." Steve Chandler All of are subject to being overwhelmed from time to time by circumstances, other people, sometimes even our own views or interpretations of our life experience. The one distinction to keep in mind however is that NOTHING will change your situation (not talking about it, not worrying about it, not whining about it)... Read More»

Embracing Uncertainty As Reality In the Project Management Arena – How Savvy Project Managers View This Phenomenon
By ProjectConnections Staff
“Doubt is an unpleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” Voltaire Uncertainty is a fact of life in the project management space and choosing to simply ignore it does not make it go away. We all want rules, clear prescriptions and certainty but that’s just not reality – much of project management is situational and context-driven – it’s about converting unknowns into knowns ASAP and always knowing that we may need to course-correct along the way. Savvy project managers learn to manage and get things done not without uncertainty but in spite of it. They make sure they fully... Read More»

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