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.
Book: The Next Evolution - Enhancing and Unifying Project and Change Management
By Cinda Voegtli
I still hear way too many stories of "change management bolted onto the end" of projects whose outputs will impact lots of people. So I'm always interested in what approaches people use to INSTEAD make change management a natural part of each project. [I'm not talking here about managing/controlling changes to delivereables etc. during a project. This is the Change Management that is about anticipating how a project and what it's delivering will impact various people and groups, including how it will CHANGE THINGS THAT MATTER to them :-)... how they work; how they're reviewed; whatever.] I was therefore browsing... Read More»

Why are we even trying? - a Stat on EXPECTING projects to fail
By Cinda Voegtli
"75% of business and IT executives anticipate that their software projects will fail." Wowsa. Whoever responded to this survey might just have a lot of trouble getting out of bed in the morning. This statistic is from a survey done by Geneca, a software development firm, of 600 business and IT executives. Sources for the survey participants includeda CIO networking group, a project management professional association, Hoovers/D&B, and attendees to a 2010 CIO trade conference. A couple of other findings: Lack of confidence in project success: 75% of respondents admit that their projects are either always or usually “doomed right... Read More»

Sanity check: Who are you ASSUMING is committed?
By Cinda Voegtli
A sanity check to consider, on a Monday morning as you start the new week, or any time you are stepping back to take stock (which should be often enough to catch bad assumptions, or any bad mojo, before damage is done)... Think about your team. Stakeholders. Sponsor. Managers of the resources on your critical project. People who obviously SHOULD be committed... to the goals, to managing risks in their area, to making sure this thing will succeed. BUT: Just because they signed the Charter... Just because they participated in planning and got to have their say on deadlines... Just... Read More»

Cognitive Dissonance - Investment in Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
By Cinda Voegtli
Managers and executives lament the poor leadership and interpersonal skills among their project managers, yet recent studies have revealed that organizations spend almost twice as much on the hard skills of project management vs. the soft skills, and that spending on soft skills has actually decreased in the past few years. What’s wrong with this picture? This flummoxes me. I don't talk to anyone who thinks the hard skills trump the people skills. None of us get anywhere with schedules, charters, other PM tools and techniques, without the soft skills to adapt to our audience, influence, overcome objections, etc. I'm... Read More»

What teammates say: to lead, be calm (and why that matters)
By Cinda Voegtli
Here's a quick post with an article full of notes on what it means to be seen as a leader by teammates. I am a huge San Francisco Giants' baseball fan, and about to watch game 3 of the World Series tonight. Our local papers are doing a fabulous job posting daily background articles about the team and individual players. In an interview with Wednesday's starting pitcher Jake Peavy, Jale brought up the team's catcher, Buster Posey, "in the midst of a long explanation of why he has been better with the Giants than he was with the Red Sox."... Read More»

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»

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