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Inoculation for the Meetings Plague

Inoculation for the Meetings Plague (#7 in the series A Cynical Perspective on Project Management)
By Barry Otterholt

Meetings are like a plague. Once they get hold, they’re really difficult to eradicate. The maxim “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to the meetings plague. Here’s a simple 4-step approach to inoculate yourself from contracting the plague.

  • Start with the assumption that no meetings are needed, and delete them all.
  • If somebody persuades you that one really is needed, give in. But assume that nobody need attend so don’t invite anybody. At this step you can just stay in your office and get other work done, because nobody else will be there.

  • If somebody persuades you that somebody really needs to attend, give in. But invite only one person. At this step, schedule the meeting for only 5 minutes. That forces them to make the point and be done with it.

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Project Management 101

Project Management 101 (#3 in the series A Cynical Perspective on Project Management)
By Barry Otterholt

Most of us need to learn by our own mistakes, rather than heed the wisdom of others. Here then is the prescription for learning, so you can make the mistakes faster and get to the wisdom sooner.

  1. Start work. What needs to be done will be discovered if we just get going.
  2. Find the right people. Find people that can get excited about something and get along with others. They’ll gain the experience when they need it.

  3. Make sure you have a plan. People want to see that you have a plan. Find someone that knows how to make one and always have it on your shelf.

  4. Make sure you have budget. Let the decision makers feel the pain if they don’t give you the funding you need.

  5. Do good status reporting. Make sure your status reports have nice charts, and make sure you email them out on time.

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Do You Speak “Project”?

Do You Speak “Project”? (#1 in the series A Cynical Perspective on Project Management)
By Barry Otterholt

Project management is a specialty, and it has its own language. Resistance is futile.

  • Scope – It’s what has to be done. Always too general for some and too specific for others. Never right.
  • Resources – Funding and people authorized for the project. Never enough and always in the wrong denominations.
  • Schedule – How much time you have to get it all done. Never enough.
  • Project Manager – You. The person responsible for everything, and in control of nothing.
  • Sponsor – The one that wanted it in the first place. The one that shudders when you walk in because you always bring a problem, and give them way too many details.
  • Customer – The group that want things their way.
  • Vendor – The other group that wants things their way.
  • Users – People addicted to the old way.
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