April 19, 2014

Project Management & Measurement gamed

Measurement
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Project management tends to be all about outcome metrics. Tracking costs vs. plan, Earned Value, Cost and Schedule Performance Indices, consumed slack – all are about what happened. Granted, there’s an effort inherent to those practices that says the future can be predicted by understanding the past, however, that approach also seems to indicate that errors are acceptable. Especially if we read a bunch of charts and graphs and variance analyses to tell us that we had a problem some number of days, or weeks, ago.

Somehow, that doesn’t seem good enough. [Read more]

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Position Yourself for Performance Transformation through a Fact-based Plan

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By the time we meet most organizations, they want to get going with their transformation immediately. They often want to rush to implementation without a roadmap, resulting in the classic gotcha of “activity vs. action.” However, without clear direction, activity often swamps out action and fritters away resources fast. Few then remain to make a positive difference, and no lasting benefits accrue. To be effective, organizations need an implementation approach that predictably advances what their enterprise should be doing. [Read more]

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You are at the mercy of your analysts (and you don’t even know it)

Analysis
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Anyone who has worked for any amount of time doing staff-level analytic work invariably knows that, when reports are presented, people will glance over the numbers looking for anomalies but never bother to understand the computation leading to what is in that report. Any attempt to explain the methodology results in blank stares, glassy eyes and, in many cases, utter disdain for wasting time explaining the math.

Unfortunately, what matters more than the number is the methodology. Information can be excluded and massaged. It can be changed to put a positive spin on the situation. As such, acting on information you don’t fully understand can lead to a disaster. [Read more]

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Broken glass, broke and hungry, Broken hearts and broken bones

broken
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Last Saturday, my older son fell off the swing in the backyard and broke both his wrists.

I spent each day at home with him, logging in to work on my laptop just a few times when I could, in between administering doses of medicine, running him to the doctors, feeding him, dressing him, helping him go to the bathroom or even simply shift positions in his chair.

The most important lesson over the past week has been this: We should all lose ourselves in something completely and totally selfless from time to time. Parenting, as depicted above, can be one of those things. There’s great value in doing something that has little or no rationality behind it. No personal benefit, no altruistic higher purpose for which we believe we can gain good Karma points, just plain old long, dreary, difficult work for the benefit of someone else, even if they never thank us or show any outward signs of appreciation. [Read more]

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Quick thoughts on the definition of excellence, and the weekly rewind

Excellence
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It’s one of those days where what should be, and what is, are at odds with each other again…..

“Excellence” is something that ought to be defined objectively. There ought ot be agree-upon standards for excellence. In some cases there are, such as in sports where Excellence is defined as a team championship. Even then, however, excellence has a subjective interpretation – you might be a batting champion in baseball (meaning you have the highest individual batting average of any player), yet play for a last place team. A super star player might have sub-par statistics due to the poor team that surrounds him or her.

I think, if you ask almost any person, in any role, in any company what excellent means and they will tell you about their experience – and not necessarily about the standards within their profession. This may mean that, in reality, “excellence” becomes a locally-defined phenomenon, which is a mistake. [Read more]

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The inexcusable “I just don’t have time” excuse.

Running_our_of_time_by_joanna5549
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Managers who aren’t able to address a problem due to time constraints need to think again about what they consider important. Clearly, you have the time to deal with things – you have simply chosen to ignore one set of problems in favor of another. Are you sitting in boring, mindless, disorganized meetings instead of getting ahead of a problem? Well – that means you value the meeting more than being proactive. I know, I know – you believe you are as proactive as possible and you certainly want to be even more proactive – but the truth is, you wanted to be in that meeting more than anything else. How do I know? Because that’s where you were and actions speak louder than words or wishes. [Read more]

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It’s all in how you look at it – current state to ideal state

A_Change_of_Perspective_by_kuschelirmel
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within all the reasons why a process can’t be changed, won’t be changed, or why it did not work last time lies a vital component necessary for overall improvement to begin – a definition of the current state. What all those protestations are giving us is the perception of the current state that is held by the people who are living with whatever process, as suboptimal or utterly broken as it may be.

What the person sees is their reality. A reality where both people and things don’t work. What they are sharing, when they complain, is their knowledge of the way things really work around here. When improvement concepts are introduced, they tend to take the tone of “Here’s the way things can or should work around here.” When poorly introduced, the new ideas sound condescending at best, and threatening at worst. What those ideas represent, however, is the ideal state – the concept of the way things should work, even if we don’t know how to get from here to there.

So, how to overcome the reluctance and resistance? [Read more]

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Management Innovation Exchange, and the weekly rewind

Think Differently
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I’m not certain how many of the usual readers of this blog are aware of the Management Innovation Exchange. According to their site:

What is the MIX?

An open innovation project…

The Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) is an open innovation project aimed at reinventing management for the 21st century. The premise: while “modern” management is one of humankind’s most important inventions, it is now a mature technology that must be reinvented for a new age.

The spur for a revolution in management… [Read more]

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Chronic problems are not problems, they are constraints.

path blocked
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TweetIn any environment, among any group of people, there are going to be problems that just don’t go away.  You might have a critical vendor who is your only go-to source, but who is chronically late to contract.  You might have a genius employee who is a prima donna.  Or, you might have a moronic [...]

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Let’s all stop being professional, a rhino’s tale

The giant rhino monster
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Every time someone with enough rank and a title granting them authority starts to screw up, behave in a foolish or terrible manner, or speak like a fool – we are told that we shouldn’t address the issue because “That wouldn’t be professional.” So, since being professional prevents us from acknowledging there are problems, let’s make a conscious decision to be profoundly un-professional.

What’s at work here is the manifestation of fear. Fear that if I point out there’s an 80,000 pound rhinoceros in the room, someone will make my life difficult, or I’ll lose my job altogether. Which is silly, because the rhinoceros is obvious and it stinks to high heaven. [Read more]

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