“Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” ⦿

This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein the title of a motivational book by Robert Ringer and quoted frequently in a military context, speaks loudly to Project Managers and project teams.  Some blog posts and talks based on this might consider that it applies to a change in thinking on other non-tangible ‘movement’, but I, as do others, believe Einstein meant this quite literally, physically.

In a contraction or engineering project context, motion is more easily defined, but in software development and management and services, perceptible motion is more insidious.  Perhaps better restated as “Nothing happens until HANDS move”, whether writing emails, documentation, reaching for a phone or coding the next iteration of a product, hands moving represent the tangible sign that a mind has been working and is ready to produce.

October 2nd, 2011

PMI Certifying Agile PM’s – Expensive ⦿

Where certifications are great full getting better jobs, the cost of this courses supporting this program may be prohibitive for employee PM’s relative to the value realized by them.  Most large companies are either slow to adopt Agile or have already employed Agile managers (e.g. Scrum Master) based on their track records, so may be unwilling to pay for this.

Is PMI a guild of PM’s trying to train their own, or a vehicle for non-practicing entrepreneur trainers to harvest profits from provision of hope?

September 29th, 2011

Which Todo List to Use… ⦿

Here are some choices:

Todoist

Evernote

Omnifocus

Remember the Milk

and of course:

Microsoft Project

August 14th, 2011

PM’s Need PM Tools ⦿

Project Management software is great for companies, but how great is it for project managers?

Project managers need software that goes further than defining tasks, network analysis, estimating and scheduling.  While typical software does a great job of organizing projects, few solutions provide intuitive productivity tools to help project managers manage to those plans.  Resource allocation and scheduling processes might indicate who is responsible for tasks, however, the practical aspects or monitoring and control require that the PM manage to at least one level lower than the assigned task – the project managers own tasks to manage their projects.

Ideally, resources work to their tasks precisely, completing on target, producing the exact work defined during the WBS planning phase.  Reality, however, is seldom ideal.  Resources typically over or under deliver on schedule and/or quality.  The best project managers develop instincts that tell them how to manage, knowing what it takes to track, guide and correct deviations from the plan to achieve success, but again, there are more average PM’s than great.  Just as projects require project planning and tracking tools, so too do Project managers require Project Management tools.

July 12th, 2011

GOYA, GOTT and GOYE’ ⦿

GOYAT, GOTT and GOYE’ The keys to making things happen, especially in Matrix and Functional organizations, when team members have responsibilities outside the project, or multiple, non-consecutive tasks on the same project. Everyone has something else to do.  Few people are singularly focussed on their assigned tasks and communicating every accomplishment or reached milestone.  If you are not getting regular updates or follow up, you must GOYA, GOTT and at the very least GOTE’.

GOYA = “Get Off Your Ass”.   Don’t wait for your team members to come looking for you.  When there are problems, or if a good idea has been brewing, they will only do so when a tipping point is reached.  When everything is going smoothly, there is no sense of urgency to drive communication, procrastination occurs and communication is deferred to future, convenient opportunities.  GOYA also builds relationships.  When you make the effort to find your team members, your attention to them is clear and singular.  Opportunities for rich non-verbal communication occur when you seek face-to-face engagement with individuals.  Motives, fears, concerns and hesitation can be more easily perceived, then acted upon.  Enthusiasm, ingenuity and initiative, often suppressed in group settings, emerges more easily during one-on-one  face-to-face meetings.

Barriers to GOYA include laziness, physical inconvenience, absence and attitude.  Laziness must simply be overcome.  Physical inconvenience, e.g. problems of proximity, stairs, traversing the outdoors during adverse weather, must also be overcome and accepted.  The payoff is worth it, more often than not.  Company policies that allow remote work and create non-static workspace design, in which freedom to choose alternative, non-static workstations cause problems for GOYA, since the effort may result in failure to FIND subjects.  Attitudes of workers create natural barriers.  People who do not favor face-to-face contact will use negative non-verbal behavior and language to discourage direct contact.  There are always opportunities to learn about people when you GOYA.  Do It!

GOTT = “Get On The Telephone”.  Often people are out of reach or it is impractical or time-cost ineffective to GOYA to make face-to-face contact.  Project Managers should be quick to pick up the phone to make contact when other forms of communication are failing.  The opportunity for asynchronous communication also occurs with voicemail, signalling the subject that their attention is being sought.

Barriers to GOTT include availability of phone numbers, phone trees, voicemail, hesitation due to perceived inconvenience and attitude.  Patience and persistence are virtues in overcoming these.The key to effective use of the phone is to capture and organize numbers in a quick and easy to find location, preferably in your pocket.  Many a clear thought or strength of verbal communication has been lost by the distraction of fumbling around to find a contact number.  Is also generally a good idea to jot down important points of discussion before beginning the process of calling, in case delays or distractions occur. GOYE’ = “Get On Your Electronics”.  Although the most commonly used form of communication today, electronic forms are often misunderstood and misused.

Email is a very effective of asynchronous communication, however should be reserved for fomal communication (where a letter or fax was used in the past),  when complex forms of communication, including documents, graphics and presentations must be shared; and short notes, when follow-up time is not critical.

SMS may be synchronous or asynchronous and is very effective for short notes, coordination and direction when verbal communication is impossible.  It allows polite small talk to be avoided.

Instant Messaging is similar to SMS, but useful when at a workstation.  Effective as a near-synchronous form of communication when both parties are at a computer and signed into an IM system.  Asynchronous communication occurs when one party is away, but likely to return soon.  Very effective for quick textual communication with one or more people, it should never be used in place of formal communication.

The overwhelming message to Project Managers is to become effective, proactive and persistent communicators.  It’s worth it! GOYA, GOTT and GOYE’

June 17th, 2011