Select Page

Categories

The Rock n’ Roll of Project Management: Metaphors and Foundations

The Rock n’ Roll of Project Management: Metaphors and Foundations
By Carl M. Manello

“I’ve had enough of the way things have been done
Every man on a razors edge
Someone has used us to kill with the same gun
Killing each other by driving a wedge.”
– Pete Townshend

I’ve long been a fan of Pete Townshend—from his days with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Who, through his solo career and even his time as an author. While I’m sure he never formally managed a project, his lyrics resonate for me on effective delivery and the need for change.

When we don’t sufficiently plan our course and approach for governance, we end up on the precarious edge of meeting expectations or falling into failure. I’m not trying to be too absolute by suggesting that there are only two possible outcomes. However, for those of us responsible for establishing the governance infrastructure to run large-scale business initiatives, the extremes may ring true. Read the Complete Article

The Rock N’ Roll Of Project Management: Getting Your Facts Straight

The Rock N’ Roll Of Project Management: Getting Your Facts Straight
By Carl M. Manello

Facts are simple and facts are straight/ Facts are lazy and facts are late/ Facts all come with points of view/ Facts don’t do what I want them to. “Cross-eyed and Painless,” Talking Heads

Music, when composed and played well, is a joy. As I’m trying to teach myself how to play guitar, I’m learning that there is more to it than simply learning some chords and strumming patterns. Music theory, progressions, complex patterns, scales, and technique all come into play. Project management is similar. When a plan is well-defined and executed by a professional, experienced PM, the results can be a joy. But there is more to project management than creating a plan and managing due dates. Project management theory, base-lining, dependency management, resource loading, and soft skills also come into play.

I think the parallels between music and project management are interesting. Read the Complete Article

The Art of Project Management: The Four Horsemen

The Art of Project Management: The Four Horsemen
By Carl M. Manello

It may be an overstatement to say that poor project management will bring about the apocalypse, but any project manager knows that inferior project management can certainly lead to a death march (e.g., one of those projects which appears to be destined to fail or which requires a stretch of unsustainable overwork). These types of project disasters are often the result of being overrun by the four horsemen of project management. Like their namesake from the Bible (described in the last book of the New Testament), or on the football field (the backfield of Notre Dame’s 1924 football team), the four horsemen are forces to be reckoned with.

The project management horsemen ride hard and cause as much chaos as the four horseman of lore, but they come under different names. These riders are known as Confusion, Obscurity, Hindrance, and Mismanagement. Read the Complete Article

The Art of Project Management: Success

The Art of Project Management: Success
By Carl M. Manello

A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain. —Sun Tzu

While I won’t compare weights and measures of ancient China (the “I” and the “SHU” versus the pound and the ounce), I will measure up Sun Tzu’s comment against the weight of managing a successful project. All too often projects are focused on the future. The drive for success is what becomes important! I have fallen into this habit myself, commonly chanting a string of queries: “Where are we at?” “How are we doing?” “What will it take to get us to ‘done’?” These are the core questions for status and moving forward. But what about celebrating our successes?

Like a victorious army, a project team which is in a state of accomplishment, recognition and celebration for what they have delivered will be more successful than one which plods along unsung and unrecognized. Read the Complete Article

Churchill on Project Portfolio Management

Churchill on Project Portfolio Management
By Carl M. Manello

“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.” —Sir Winston Churchill

Is it the same in your organization too? Getting out of the rut of inefficiencies is challenging, time consuming, and never quite at the top of the list. Do you find that there are more projects in the pipeline than in the original approved budget? Is performance less than adequate on some key initiatives? Do you find that projects which are going sideways don’t seem to have a steering mechanism or brake to help with correction? Do you find that you are surprised that this is the same environment you were unhappy with last year?

This becomes the embodiment of the oft-cited saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Breaking the cycle takes action. Read the Complete Article

Building Workplans at the Right Level

Building Workplans at the Right Level
By Carl M. Manello

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.“ – President Dwight D Eisenhower

While hopefully none of us is planning for an attack, the wisdom of the 34th president can be applied to work more close to our hearts: establishing the foundation of a project. When supporting clients as a project manager, a lot of time is spent discussing what should be in a project plan. However, clients are usually not looking at the holistic planning process; they are focused on the mechanics of the plan itself and on how small to slice up the work packages. Notwithstanding Ike’s advice, the focus of this blog is on the plan itself. There is a common fear that if tasks are planned at too high a level, then critical details may be missed or team members may go too far astray before a misstep can be found. Read the Complete Article

Machiavelli on Agile

Machiavelli on Agile
By Carl M. Manello

Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better. – Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian diplomat, historian, and political theorist (1469-1527)

While Agile has grown in acceptance over the last decade, and is currently the fad of effective delivery in today’s development arena, a company taking on this change might consider moving slowly. By leveraging an incremental approach, a company may realize a large stream of benefits from Agile. In the real world where companies have legacy methodologies, people with entrenched habits, and an aversion to change, implementing Agile methods can be challenging–thus necessitating the incremental approach. In many cases, new methods need to be tailored in such a way as to fit the company’s situation without diminishing the value and essence of the Agile approach.

We have helped a number of companies assess their readiness and to make the move to Agile. Read the Complete Article

Managing a Real Review Process

Managing a Real Review Process
By Carl M. Manello

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.” –John Steinbeck

I have seen the program review process in many companies reduced to no more than a “dog and pony show.” These so-called Gate Reviews are nothing more than the equivalent of Mr. Steinbeck’s unqualified praise. With little substance offered–such as true metrics that help to predict delivery–the reviews are reduced to nothing more than a chance for management to attend another meeting.

The intent of a program process life cycle is to ensure quality and cost effective delivery by flexibly applying a rigorous process for major business initiatives. The process consists of sequential milestone gates configured around standard program life cycle phases. Reviews should be used at each quality gate to gauge the progress and direction of the initiative (not just to supply unqualified praise!). Read the Complete Article

Economies of Resource Over Allocation

Economies of Resource Over Allocation
By Carl M. Manello

“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” –Ronald Reagan

What the former President expressed in jest brings attention to a long-standing issue. We are decades past Regan’s time and you still cannot listen to news for long without hearing a story about the national deficit, the growing deficit, or reducing the deficit. You do not need an economics degree to understand that a deficit means that spending is in excess of what one has. In other words, the government is committing to do and spend more than it has the capacity to do. And no matter what side of the political spectrum you sit on, all can agree that a large deficit is a bad thing.

The same idea applies to the management of resources within a company, specifically its people. An organization uses a mix of employees and contractors to complete work to meet its commitments. Read the Complete Article

Effective Methods of Risk Identification

Effective Methods of Risk Identification
By Carl M. Manello

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” –President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

There are risks everywhere, whether they are called out and addressed or whether they are ignored. It is our job as consultants to make sure that we are mitigating risks, in Kennedy’s words, through action. We have found that the most critical and most difficult action in Risk Management is the cataloguing of risks. The challenge is to find effective ways to elicit risks from stakeholders. After all, you can’t manage risks if you don’t know what they are. And while it may seem that the identification of risk should be the easiest part of the process, we find that stakeholders and project teams do not always understand the concept of “risk.” Sure, now you are thinking, “what are some effective ways of identifying risks?” There are many methods for Risk Identification; here are some of the most effective. Read the Complete Article

Recommended PM App

Recommended PM App

Categories