Stages, Phases…and Boxes

May 1, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Project management 

We use models to represent and categorize the massive amount of information we process everyday. This what we do to make sense of the world throughout our lives. Read more

Unlearning

March 24, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Agility, Leadership, Project management 

The well-known Marshmallow Challenge asks teams to construct the tallest tower they can using spaghetti, tape and a string. Young children regularly do better than MBA graduates. Read more

Self-inflicted Chaos

March 13, 2017 by · Comment
Filed under: Project management 

The Cynefin framework is a model that expresses five decision-making contexts that we can use to parse how we perceive and hence can respond to different situations. These contexts range from simple through chaotic and beyond to disorder, and the model has been used in defence of flexible or adaptive approaches to solving problems. I think there are situations where we lean on that model too heavily as a defence for lazy and incomplete thinking. Read more

Transactions and Connections

May 28, 2015 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Project management, Teamwork 

When we stumble on our projects and seek ways to improve our experience and results, there is a strong tendency to establish a clear approach for future projects, based on what hurt us in the past. This might look like a particular approach, a set of templates to ensure something doesn’t fall through the cracks anymore, perhaps a collection of checklists to guide the way. These become ‘our new standard approach’, but can actually get us into more trouble than before. Read more

How to Motivate a Team

February 27, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Leadership, Project management, Teamwork 

I was following a thread on a LinkedIn group recently about how to motivate a team, and I felt compelled to join the group and reply. Not surprisingly, I had a few things to say. Read more

It’s Not About the Tool!

November 16, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: Agility, Process, Project management 

I’ve been building stringed instruments as a hobby over the past couple of years, and there are a few tools that I have become particularly enamoured with. I’ve got a nice little Japanese file that seems to be just the right size to fit into all the nooks and crannies to tidy things up, and I’ve got a laminate trimmer that’s got plenty of power but is really light and maneuverable compared to the big, clunky old router that I inherited from my dad. Read more

Street Cred

December 6, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, Project management 

From time to time in project management workshops, someone will ask if a project manager needs to have domain experience to be successful on a project. Based on what I have seen over the years, my response is yes, but not for the reasons you might expect. Read more

Two Products, Different Projects

October 29, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Project management, Quality 

I started building musical instruments last summer. It’s a great way to push the envelope, a challenging and entertaining hobby, and you get something at the end of the day that you can continue to use over the years (if things work out, that is). While there are many things that make each instrument an interesting project, it is not safe to say that every instrument created is a project unto itself. Read more

Absentee PM

October 23, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Project management 

I was talking to a friend the other day, listening intently as he described a project he’s currently involved with that is, politely, challenged. He was lamenting about a recent meeting where the project manager had spent a couple of hours telling the group what they needed to do on the project, then in exasperation, ended the session with “I don’t care how you get it done, just get it done!” Read more

All Shapes and Sizes

January 16, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Project management, Teamwork 

I spent a few years facilitating an award winning PM Certificate program in Vancouver, up to about a year ago. One of the things that astounded me in that program (and I’m sure the scenario plays out elsewhere as well) is that on the first day, most of the students were looking for a standard set of templates and a recipe for project success.

I guess I astounded them right back when I said “Nope, sorry”. Here’s my reasoning. 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