April 19, 2014

More evidence of performance does not mean there is more performance

3D Pie Chart
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I have been on troubled teams who are often commanded to produce reams of data and documentation for their every move to date, forecast every move going forward, and track every movement against that plan in leghty detail. Once all this documentation is in place, the project appears to be much more organized and coordianted, however, overall performance rarely improves.

The moral: Documentation isn’t the solution to a performance problem. [Read more]

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Project problems can’t be solved with an operational focus

loves_distance__by_peggyopal-d41wf2f
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Very often, projects are assessed by using metrics that are not about identifying unique & temproary activities. Rather, persistent, on-going measures such as average weekly costs or hours worked or material dollars spent are used to determine if a project is running as it should.

Unfortunately, these sort of measurements are more attuned to understanding operations because they establish linear costs over time. Project have peaks and valleys, spikes and low points, periods of tremendous activity and periods when they have very little at all.
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Dad tells a story of inefficient communication, and truly wasteful meeting management

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On a recent trip home for the Holidays, I was railing about such-and-wuch workplace goings on, when my father shared a story from his days managing projects in the construction industry.

as the “steel guy,” most of his work was done fairly early in the life cycle. The steel was cut, fabricated, delivered, erected, corrected, charged back, and his end of the project entirely signed off. Nonetheless, he was bound to attend these hours-long meetings at times, just to hear how the electrical inspection and finished carpentry was progressing. His activity on the overall project was long since done and over with, nonetheless, in the name of communication, he was required to attend. The fact that the meeting would never include any information he needed to hear was entirely lost on the meeting’s organizer. [Read more]

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Why your PMP prep doesn’t feel like reality (and why it shouldn’t)

A Break in Reality
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I feel lucky to have the benefit of my time spent trying to understand the Lean paradigm because it is offering so much insight into what the PMI framework is trying to do. It is establishing a standard. It is offering a methodology for managing projects against which all other management styles, and outcomes, can be measured. In a way, it depicts the ideal – if all projects, everywhere, operated in the way the PMI describes, then all projects would deliver on time, within budget, and with inputs from all stakeholders at every level of the organization – including customers.

Is that reality? No. Of course not. [Read more]

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Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Project Management Resources

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In order to maintain consistent project management success, it is important to learn and understand how to make the most of your resources. Making the most out of the leader, the team and the way the project is organized will help ensure a smooth process and flawless execution of your project’s goals.

– Make the most out of your project manager
– Make the most out of your team
– Make the most out of your organization style [Read more]

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Weekend yard work shows: If the plan is solid, stick to it

white picket fence
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Whether at home or at work, we find ourselves with plans that are obsolete the moment they are created. We abandon them when something we hadn’t accounted for pops up, which we somehow believe means the plan is invalid. Odds are, it is not. It might need to adjust a bit to establish flow, but it shouldn’t be thrown out entirely. Also, unless the unexpected thing is a catastrophic failure for your entire plan – ignore it. If it’s important, it will become a critical interruption soon enough. If it is not important, it will resolve itself or just go away entirely.

Simple rules for productivity apply everywhere. If you are working at home or working hard for someone else – the rules don’t change. When you run to the store for a wrench – go in, get the wrench, and leave. Don’t browse the power tools, pick up a pack of widgets because they are on sale, wonder what it would cost to replace the whatever – just take care of whatever it is that helps you accomplish your plan. The rest is just noise, and it can get deafening. [Read more]

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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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The state of the blog (and the blogger). Or, how did I get here & what am I going to do now?!

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March is the 2 year anniversary of this blog. It has had a lot of ups and downs, gone through some periods where I did very few updates and considered killing the site altogether, but I am proud to say that I’m still here. To be honest, I couldn’t image NOT writing this blog. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve undertaken and continues to be a terrific learning experience as well. [Read more]

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Last week’s tweets

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TweetIn case you missed it, here are some tweet & re-tweets of articles & other things that caught my eye last week: From Others: From @tedcoine: YES!! RT @shawmu: Actually give a S### about the development of individuals.ow.ly/8SkuB via @kris_dunn From @ShingoPrize: Robert Miller said Shingo Prize focuses on more than just culture, it focuses on how [...]

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How a results-only focus can prevent project overruns

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When getting a jump on things isn’t accompanied by also finishing ahead of time, you tend to get the exact opposite of what you’d hoped for. The problem gets exacerbated when, by directing work to begin in advance of the arrival of necessary inputs, the team gets too far ahead. Managers who are pressured to keep their people busy will create tasking of suspicious value for the appearance of looking productive. Why not let the staff determine how to spend that time, whether at work or away, as long as all obligations are met? [Read more]

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