Select Page

Categories

Is There Anything Wrong with an Alpha Project Manager?

Is There Anything Wrong with an Alpha Project Manager?
By Kiron D. Bondale

Multiple articles have been written about the evils of being a weak project manager. The unwillingness of such individuals to challenge poor decisions, to confront unhealthy conflict, or to shield their team members from unnecessary interference impacts team morale, forces other stakeholders to step in to keep projects on track and reduces the overall value derived from the projects managed by such project managers.

When we witness such challenges, it is tempting to think that there’s no ceiling on how strong a project manager should be. But is that a valid assertion? Is there anything wrong with being an alpha project manager?

Let’s start with projectized organizations. Are there any impacts of a strong project manager doing their utmost to secure and sustain funding for their project in such a company – sounds like just what they should be doing, right? Read the Complete Article

How Lean Is Your Project Management Style?

How Lean Is Your Project Management Style?
By Kiron D. Bondale

There is no single recipe for how to best manage a project.

Culture (organization & team) and enterprise environmental factors all influence how a project gets managed but personal style and approach also plays a critical role. Within the constraints of the previous factors a project might be managed successfully but the degree of efficiency can vary widely between project managers.

It might not be advisable to invest a lot of effort in analyzing how we are adapting and executing each of the 47 PMBOK processes, but we can lean (pun fully intended) on process excellence to help us identify common sources of project management waste.

  • Waiting: While we might complain frequently about how long they have to wait for others to approve deliverables, make decisions or complete in scope activities, how many times have we introduced unnecessary delays by avoiding conflict with a team member, procrastinating on having a difficult conversation with a key stakeholder or escalating an action or issue that was impeding our team’s progress?
Read the Complete Article

Project Management Lessons Our Grandparents Taught Us!

Project Management Lessons Our Grandparents Taught Us!
By Kiron D. Bondale

What are the most impactful ways to learn about project management?

We tend to think of the experience (and scars) we’ve gained through managing multiple projects, the formal education we’ve taken and the certifications we have achieved.

No doubt, these are all contributors to our current competency, but we are underestimating how much valuable project management advice we received from our grandparents through old proverbs.

Here are just a few examples of what we’ve unconsciously learned about project management from previous generations.

  • A stitch in time saves nine – yes, that lingering low priority issue could probably go another week without being followed up on, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?
  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves – it does pay to review actual time logged by your team members even though that might seem administratively onerous!

Read the Complete Article

Harnessing the Power of Conflict

Harnessing the Power of Conflict
By Kiron D. Bondale

Few of us enjoy dealing with conflict.

But shying away from conflict doesn’t work – you’ll get mediocre results from a team who focuses more on being nice than making progress, or worse, your better team members will become disengaged and actively seek new roles.

So what are some clues to alert you that you may need to step in to catalyze the chemical reaction?

Pay close attention to people’s body language. If you are frequently witnessing a mismatch between what people are saying and how they are acting, that might indicate that they are really not in favor of a direction.

If the drive to maintain team harmony appears to trump all others, that may need to be called out. A symptom of this is whenever any discussion starts to become lively, a number of team members suggest that it be taken offline (which never happens), or some other type of interference occurs to interrupt the progression of the conflict. Read the Complete Article

Crashing Your Schedule Is Not Your Only Choice when Facing Delays!

Crashing Your Schedule Is Not Your Only Choice when Facing Delays!
By Kiron D. Bondale

When our projects begin to experience schedule delays, a very common reaction from our customers may be to ask the team to work longer hours or to leverage their influence to provide additional resources to work on critical path tasks such that the project can get back on track.

Of course, nothing comes for free – such additional labor hours usually will result in increased costs which in turn increases the likelihood of going over budget. If the existing team is asked to work longer hours for a sustained period of time, this is likely to impact team morale and deliverable quality. If new team members are added, while they are coming up-to-speed, the overall productivity of the team is likely to suffer as existing high performers may be engaged in onboarding the newcomers.

So before looking at crashing your schedule, here are a few ideas. Read the Complete Article

Contingency Usage Is a Leading Indicator of Project Trouble

Contingency Usage Is a Leading Indicator of Project Trouble
By Kiron D. Bondale

Contingency reserves are funds intended to be used to offset the negative financial impacts of realized risks. On schedules, we often use the alternate term buffer but we are really referencing the same concept.

Depending on the project funding policies of a given company, project managers may have the ability to directly authorize contingency drawdowns, as they are a component of your approved cost & schedule baselines.

But just because a project manager has the authority to utilize contingency without seeking additional approvals doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be tracked and reported separately.

While contingency is supposed to be used to reduce impacts from realized risks, it can also be used to mask scope creep or to avoid going through project change management. I realize that there is often a very fine line between the realized risk of a missed requirement and scope change, but some project managers and sponsors treat contingency like a slush fund. Read the Complete Article

How Do You Know that Your Project Plan Is Fully Baked?

How Do You Know that Your Project Plan Is Fully Baked?
By Kiron D. Bondale

“It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.”

No, it’s not “What is the Matrix?” but rather, how do you know when your team has done enough project planning to feel confident that commitments can be made to your customer?

Isn’t there an app for that?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was the equivalent of a meat thermometer that could let you know if further planning is required or if you are at risk of realizing business value shoe leather?

There is no expert system which codifies the shared knowledge of the world’s project management experts to help you know when enough is enough. The essence of projects is uncertainty, and it is that uncertainty which stymies the best efforts of project teams to find the sweet spot. Read the Complete Article

So You Think Your Company Has High Organizational Project Management Maturity?

So You Think Your Company Has High Organizational Project Management Maturity?
By Kiron D. Bondale

I’ve written a lot about the criticality of organizational project management maturity in increasing the likelihood of complex projects delivering expected value within approved baselines.

Without a modest level of organizational support, the most capable project managers will find themselves hamstrung by weak project sponsors, turf protecting resource managers and distracted, overwhelmed team members. On the other hand, organizations at a higher level of maturity will enable novice project managers to succeed by giving them the right tools, support and guidance to develop.

But what does a higher level of organizational project management maturity look like?

If we took the approach used by many maturity model-based assessments, we’d be checking for the existence of higher level processes. But existence of processes doesn’t prove capability. So perhaps we need to look for some more compelling evidence.

  1. Project management onboarding

    It’s common for companies to provide onboarding for new project managers on methodology, governance or tools, but how many provide a primer on project management for all staff?

Read the Complete Article

Make 2015 the Year of the Entrepreneurial Project Manager!

Make 2015 the Year of the Entrepreneurial Project Manager!
By Kiron D. Bondale

When we think about project management, entrepreneurship might not be the first word that comes to mind.

I’ve written about project management bringing predictability to uncertainty, and while predictability is a good thing, it usually does not fit well with our notions of entrepreneurship. Conservatism is not a bad characteristic for a project manager as we wouldn’t want to take unnecessary risks with our company’s investments, but this trait can often evidence itself through playing it overly safe or attempting to control and eliminate all risk.

So what are a few of the characteristics I would encourage project managers to embrace in the coming year?

  • Be the CEO for your project: Just as chief executives are accountable to their boards for increasing shareholder value, project managers should adopt the mindset of delivering value above all else. Eschew the “Today, my jurisdiction ends here” attitude and initiate those tough conversations with team members or even the project customer when they are too focused on the triple constraint instead of paving the way for post-project value realization.
Read the Complete Article

Coaching Lessons from Change Management

Coaching Lessons from Change Management
By Kiron D. Bondale

Dr. Kotter’s eight-stage process provides a whole lifecycle model for implementing successful transformational change.

But could it also be applied to coaching for performance and development? Let’s review a few of the stages and find out…

  • Establishing a sense of (personal) urgency

    If you are unable to ignite and sustain the need for change within a team member, you’ll likely experience the old adage of leading a horse to water but being unable to make them drink. The same sins of complacency and a false sense of urgency which throttle change efforts within organizations also exist within individuals. How many times have you heard a team member say “I think I’m doing a good job” or “Look at all the work that’s on my plate!”?

    Taking staff out of their comfort zones by exposing them to objective feedback from stakeholders outside of their immediate circle or defining performance targets which require a real stretch are just a couple of ways of creating that true sense of urgency required for personal growth.

Read the Complete Article

Recommended PM App

Recommended PM App

Categories