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How Project Management and Managing Work Fit Together

How Project Management and Managing Work Fit Together
By Ty Kiisel

On the way home from work, do you ever feel like you’ve been riding a unicycle, trying to keep your balance while you juggle everything you do throughout the day? If you do, you’re not alone.

A big part of the average workday typically includes a lot more than working on structured activities and formal projects. If you’re day is like mine, there are requests from colleagues, personal tasks, and the stuff I do every day that isn’t related to any specific project (like writing this blog), that I try to do.

Because contributing to projects is only a part of what the average person does each day, managing all of their work life and enabling them to collaborate with co-workers regarding the work that matters most is critical. Simply because it’s not all project-related doesn’t mean that people don’t need to collaborate and share insights regarding all the work they do. Read the Complete Article

Four Keys to Effective Project Communication

Four Keys to Effective Project Communication
By Ty Kiisel

I didn’t go into work yesterday. I had a number of personal errands to do that couldn’t be done on the weekend. For example, it was time to renew my drivers license.

They’ve changed the rules since I last renewed my license, and although I should have known the rules changed, I didn’t (my wife suggested that I hadn’t paid attention to all the announcements that were made a few years ago). I ended up making the visit twice. I didn’t have my “papers” in order. Recent changes to the law require a birth certificate, passport, your blood type, the maiden name of your mother’s grandmother on her father’s side and…You get the picture.

Of course I’m exaggerating a bit, but after sitting “patiently” at the Drivers License Bureau twice, it felt like I was trapped in bureaucratic hell. I digress.

I don’t bring this up to complain, although I do feel much better now. Read the Complete Article

Project Management: Simple Doesn’t Mean Un-Important

Project Management: Simple Doesn’t Mean Un-Important
By Ty Kiisel

My daughter lives downtown—about twenty or so minutes away from where my wife and I live in the suburbs. We decided to stop by for a visit. It was the perfect weather for a short bike ride. Although I am an “epic ride” sort of guy; disappearing on the road for hours at a time, just before dark is my favorite time to ride. The light is soft, it’s easy to see and somehow you can almost sense the day winding down. Even though it was a very short ride, it was still a “great” ride.

Over the last couple of years project managers in many organizations are being asked to manage and organize many different types of projects. I’ve spoken with a number of project leaders who spend time regularly jumping back and forth between agile and waterfall projects (some may even be concurrent projects). Read the Complete Article

Project Management Is Really Work Management

Project Management Is Really Work Management
By Ty Kiisel

The lines between what we call work and what we call projects is starting to blur. Last spring I attended the Gartner PPM summit where Audrey Apfel suggested in the next few years 30 percent of what we traditionally call “projects” will not be considered projects anymore. “The work isn’t going away,” she suggested, “but how we categorize it is going to change.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone leading teams these days. Dealing with Ad Hoc work is part of the challenge project leaders face every day as they struggle to wrap their heads around capacity and resource management. If a project manager doesn’t have visibility into all the work on the table, how is he or she ever going to accurately plan for the resource needs of any project.

I was involved with a focus group of several project leaders (a little over a year ago) who initially suggested that they don’t manage any ad hoc or unstructured work with their team. Read the Complete Article

Three Fundamentals of Leading People and Managing Projects

Three Fundamentals of Leading People and Managing Projects
By Ty Kiisel

Living in Utah there are lots of opportunities to explore the past. Last weekend I spent some time tooling around southern Utah visiting ghost towns. A couple of years ago I stopped by another obscure corner of southeastern Utah to visit the ruins at Hovenweep—an ancient Pueblo or Anasazi settlement that was settle sometime between 8,000 to 6,000 B.C.E. and was inhabited until sometime in the 1300s.

Looking at what remains from these communities, I can’t help but marvel at the structures that are still standing. Certainly they had primitive materials to work with, but I don’t think you could call the workmanship of these folks primitive. They definitely understood the fundamentals of masonry construction.

I’m convinced that there are some fundamentals that apply to working with people and managing work that tend to result in more successful projects, here’s the first three:

  • Make sure everyone understands what they’re doing and why they’re doing it: It might sound like a no-brainer that everyone should know what they’re doing, but it’s not uncommon for a lot of time to be wasted by people trying to figure out what to do next or what work is the priority.
Read the Complete Article

Project Failure or Project Success?

Project Failure or Project Success?
By Ty Kiisel

The Russian writer and physician Anton Pavlovich Chekhov once said, “One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake.”

Where projects are concerned that is often the case. Recently, a colleague and I were discussing the Standish Group’s Chaos report and debating whether or not their definition of project failure is really accurate. Although I agree that if a project fails to deliver the anticipated value, takes longer than expected or costs more than is budgeted I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a success—but does that also make it a failure?

Sometimes.

Yeah, I’m weaseling a little bit here. However there have been some pretty high-profile failures that turned out to be anything but failures. Take Columbus for instance, he was looking for a quick route to India and found the New World. Read the Complete Article

The Anti-Social Project Manager

The Anti-Social Project Manager
By Ty Kiisel

Whenever I speak with someone about project management and social media I tend to get one of two reactions. They either see the value right away or they don’t get it at all-dismissing the socialization of project management out of hand. After a few minutes of conversation, their negative attitude seems to boil down to the following two arguments:

  1. They are put off by what they consider the trivial nature of current social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Democratizing the project management process conflicts with their top-down, command-and-control management style.

Most of the angst about using social networking within the project management process comes from a lack of understanding. I agree with those who suggest that simply incorporating a Twitter-like activity stream or mimicking Facebook isn’t a legitimate strategy for socializing the project management process. If that’s the sum total of your social project management strategy, I don’t believe it will help you accomplish much. Read the Complete Article

Four Questions to Ask Before Starting a Project

Four Questions to Ask Before Starting a Project
By Ty Kiisel

Establishing a process that requires every potential project to demonstrate its value based upon pre-determined criteria gives executives confidence that they are making well-informed project decisions. Some important questions that should be asked when evaluating any project should include:

  1. What are the high-level objectives of the project? It’s not uncommon for a project to morph into something very different from what was originally intended. Specifically identifying the goals of every project helps project teams, sponsors, and stakeholders stay on track. What’s more, organizations that insist on keeping those business objectives a secret typically end up shooting themselves in the foot. I once worked with an organization that waited until eight months into the year before they made public their six or seven primary business objectives for that year. Needless to say, with only four months left, it made it challenging for the rank and file workforce to do anything about whether or not they successfully met those goals.
Read the Complete Article

March Madness and Project Management

March Madness and Project Management
By Ty Kiisel

It’s hard not to get excited about NCAA basketball and March Madness this year. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Brigham Young’s Cougars are ranked #3 at the beginning of March (despite some of the off-court drama). This may very well be the best Cougar team since their appearance in 1981 against Notre Dame.

That’s probably the reason I’ve turned to a sports metaphor today. As a young athlete, there were many lessons I learned from my coach while swimming laps in the pool that continue to serve me today (despite the fact that there’s no way I could ever fit into my old Speedo). In fact there are a few things that I think apply very well to the way we manage work:

  1. Good coaches have a game plan: I’m sure there are a number of teams going into the tournament this year who believe they have a chance at making the final four or even winning.
Read the Complete Article

Project Leadership and Motivating Teams

Project Leadership and Motivating Teams
By Ty Kiisel

I have to admit, one of the most rewarding parts of writing articles is the opportunity to interact with so many smart and dedicated people. We all face many of the same challenges every day and I am blown away by the willingness of everyone I speak with to share ideas, experiences and best practices. Among many of the topics we discuss, the difference between project management and project leadership is a hot topic. Recently I have noticed a recurring theme in some of the questions I get asked, including:

  1. How can I actually trust the project team to self-direct their work?
  2. What is the best way to keep members of the project team motivated?

Trust the Team

I’ll admit that what I’m about to say is probably easier said than done, but worth the effort. I have had the opportunity to work as a team member or a project leader on many teams over the years, and believe that fundamentally people “step up” when given the opportunity. Read the Complete Article

Recommended PM App

Recommended PM App

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