Work Breakdown Breakdown

April 16, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Process, Project management 

One of the most useful tools to support consistency across projects is also one of the most misunderstood and widely overloaded tools: the work breakdown structure. Let’s tear this thing apart and look inside. Read more

A New Year, A New Start

December 29, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

A year ago, I wrote about dealing with difficult times as a means of driving appropriate change. A year later, unfortunately, the same message holds essentially unchanged. For many organizations (those that are still working to make it through these times), we are at a point where we get a second shot at starting the New Year on the right foot. Here’s another business perspective, but it isn’t aimed at your employer. Read more

The Down Side of Good Tools

December 7, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Process, Project management 

Often, out of the sea of different opinions of how things should be done, there rises a few techniques that make it to the level of becoming a standard way of doing things. They can be codified in a Body of Knowledge, if such a thing exists for that discipline, or become generally accepted as a ‘best practice’, though we all know that these things are quite rare. Even when they are raised to that level, there is danger that they can become overused: while every technique has it’s niche, no technique should be used too broadly. Such is the case with Work Breakdown Structures and Gantt charts. Read more

Local Maximum

November 9, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Project management, Teamwork 

Recall back to your college days, there was likely a time when you needed to calculate the maximum value for a given 3-dimensional function. There are a number of algorithms available, but many fall into the trap of only finding a local peak, rather than the absolute maximum. I’m sure that most of you asked yourselves whether you would ever use this in the real world. I’m sure I did, even the second time I took that infernal course. It turns out that the problem of reaching local maxima seems to occur in a team environment all the time, where it is not as rigorously understood that it is even a problem. While there is far less math involved, the solution can end up being just as difficult to implement. Read more

Why This Project?

September 21, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Project management 

I have heard all sorts of reasons for taking on projects. If you dissect these reasons, many boil down to rationales that are actually irrelevant. It may be that we have found some cool new technology that we can justify solves a problem if we can get it to work, or that we always kick off a new project after the last one ended, so it is time to get going on this one. Insert your inappropriate justification here. In the end, there needs to be 2 reasons for running a project: it benefits us as a business, and there is a net gain in benefits for the stakeholders over the competition (which begets the first reason). Read more

Help Yourself

August 31, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People 

For a long time now I thought I understood the adage that in order to best help others, you need to be able to help yourself. It turns out that there are some things that you don’t truly understand until you experience them in action. Read more

Pinballed

August 3, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

There are as many opinions about how to improve your business as there are consultants – likely more. While it may appear on the surface that there are large groups with the same message, you will find that as you dig deeper, everyone’s message is nuanced with their own experiences and biases. There is a right answer for you out there, but you need to watch that you don’t get bounced around like a pinball. Read more

Off the Beaten Path

June 15, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: Project management 

Any project manager that has managed (or worked on) even a single project knows that every project will veer off of the planned route in some way. For many projects, this initial deviation is the start of a cascading effect of chaos and reactive decisions that results in delays, dropped scope or reduced quality. Rather than fight it, we should be preparing ourselves to deal with the inevitable unplanned events as best as possible. Read more

Harnessing Down Time

July 29, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: Agility, Process 

We all have far more that we would like to get done than we have available time to do these things. This is true in the workplace and outside as well. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take advantage of all the down time we seem to have during our day to accomplish more? Read more

Planning Cycles, Thinking Rhythms

July 15, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership 

I was running a training session with about a dozen executives a couple of months back. These were all people from relatively small companies, so even though by title and role they may face strategic issues most of the day, they still have at least one foot firmly planted in day-to-day issues, and many of them remain more comfortable in a technical environment than a boardroom. Read more

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    Another excellent article – we were just discussing this very subject in a course I recently taught. I forwarded your article to everyone in the class, so you might expect a few more subscribers soon…

    — Bruce Butler, PEng, Senior Systems Engineer, Modular Mining Systems Canada