Inter-cultural Issues in the Workplace

January 29, 2010 by · Comment
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As teams continue to become multi-cultural and work continues to be deployed across the planet, we frequently run into situations where culture plays a massive role in the challenges to gain shared understanding.

Rather than providing slides with a list of issues we face, this event gets everyone involved in a simulation that allows all of us to experience these challenges ourselves.

Afterwards, the discussion and insights that ensue are driven by each of our experiences, both in our roles at work and elsewhere.

Holding Our Feet to the Fire

October 30, 2009 by · Comment
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In recent times, there have been several movements in software development that appear to suggest that we can defer or eliminate many practices that apparently slow down our ability to develop our products.

As we have all seen in this industry, though, as new ideas gain popularity, there is much that is lost in the translation to the masses. These innocuous statements become embraced a little too tightly. There are claims of universality from all corners of the methodology debate, and that ‘barely sufficient methodology’ often becomes ‘insufficient’, with disappointing or disastrous results.

A balance is required. There are some practices that need to be considered for any project, as the cost of deferring or ignoring them becomes extremely costly to the organization, and results in less delivered value. Balancing appropriate weighting of these practices with appropriate management of change becomes the optimal way of driving a project to successful completion.

This presentation describes different types of practices to be considered, approaches to recognize reasonable application along the way, and identifies the practices that we absolutely need to move forward in the lifecycle to ensure that success means creation of the value we actually intended to deliver.

This paper was presented at the 2009 PNSQC in Portland, Oregon by Jim Brosseau.

Stepping on Toes

June 13, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

I spend a lot of my time in front of a classroom of adults, or presenting on topics to a group of often seasoned practitioners. Over the years, I have come to form a number of opinions that, shall we say, deviate slightly from the commonly accepted way of thinking. Put these two together, and I am finding that I sometimes step on a few toes. Read more

Prioritization: What's First on Your List to Santa?

March 13, 2009 by · Comment
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We never have enough time to do everything we want to do on projects, and rarely have enough money. If we’re doing our job well, we will live within these constraints to deliver the best value we can to our stakeholders.

This presentation looks at existing practices on projects, identifies the problems with these practices and explores the principles behind effective prioritization. We’ll then look at a variety of different techniques to understand the distinctions between them, where they are best applied, and recognize that the models are tailorable for our specific situation. Filled with examples from real-world projects, you will learn valuable tools and recognize that prioritization is best seen as an ongoing management tool rather than a point exercise on your projects.

Project Management for the Rest of Us

March 12, 2009 by · Comment
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The role of the Project Manager is often placed on a pedestal, surrounded by certifications and a decreed ‘ownership’ of major initiatives, but in reality we are all involved in projects, every day. Indeed, the most effective projects are those where everyone involved works together toward a solution, rather than having one leader drive the masses.

This interactive session – scalable from 2-4 hours in duration – explores the key elements of project management, and helps us understand that while it may take training and experience to master all the nuances, the core elements are easily within anyone’s grasp. We recognize that much of what we do can be packaged into projects and identify a subset of important activities that are critical for any project.

With this knowledge, we can all look at everything on our plate in a different way, become more focused in our efforts, and reap many of the benefits of project management (without the challenge of certification). Much of the session will be based on your experience, whether in formal projects or in the rest of your life, so be prepared for interesting and engaging discussion.

Critical Elements for Effective Estimation

September 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Critical Elements for Effective Estimation
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There is no denying that estimation on projects is hard. From the lack of credible initial information on which to base an estimate, to the volatility of scope throughout and the difficulty associated with maintaining good historical information, estimation is a minefield for any project. Layer on top of all that the targets you are trying to achieve, and estimation gets even nastier, yet it remains one of the most important precursors for success.

This presentation provides the critical elements of both a reasonable estimate as well as an effective approach for incorporating these estimates into your project. Common pitfalls are identified, and specific improvements you can make to your existing approach give you the opportunity to increase your likelihood for success immediately.

Customer Centric Product Development

September 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Customer Centric Product Development
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It’s no secret the concept of being customer-centric can pay tremendous dividends -from significant increases in incremental revenue to improved internal productivity. But how does that translate to product development?

The seminar focuses on what it means to be customer-centric in product development. It is intended for executives and senior level management, whose responsibility it is to ensure the company maximizes the value its products create for customers. It is also useful for any product team member who is responsible for building better products, faster and at less cost – in a nutshell, everyone.

Benchmarking for the Rest of Us

September 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Benchmarking for the Rest of Us
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There is no shortage of data available to determine whether your software team is sufficiently productive. Whether it is the often quoted Chaos Report from the Standish Group, the quarterly updates from the Software Engineering Institute or the hidden project data behind parametric estimation models such as COCOMO II, it is seductive to hold your own performance against these standards for comparison.

We quickly find, though, that these comparisons bear little relevance for most organizations, especially those that are ‘up-and-coming’. It is the growing companies who are most in need of benchmarks to gauge their performance and progress. This discussion identifies the challenges with most published information, and enumerates the approaches that we can all use to generate meaningful benchmarking information.

Benefits of a Well Managed Approach

September 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Benefits of a Well Managed Approach
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One of the roadblocks to improving practices is the failure for the people involved to realize the benefits associate with increased effectiveness. This discussion describes the typical benefits that organizations are likely to achieve at all levels (for the individual, the project, and the organization) and identifies the critical success factors that organizations should be aware of to ensure that these benefits are realized.

Quality Attributes Primer

September 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Quality Attributes Primer
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One of the most neglected areas in gathering and capturing requirements is the area of Quality Attributes, also commonly referred to as the non-functional requirements or the “ilities”. The challenge of making the leap directly to these statements is probably one of the reasons that this component of a complete requirements specification is ignored. This discussion describes a refined set of steps that you can adopt that will make it somewhat easier for you to make the leap from these nebulous attributes all the way to testable quantified statements regarding the quality of the system being built.

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