Leadership for Project and Executive

A garageWe have all noticed how there is never enough space, money or time. It escapes no one and nothing. If there are two weeks to do a task it will take two weeks, if there is a $10,000 budget it will take $10,000 to do whatever it was. It is human nature. The goal has been set, it must be acceptable, so we strive to meet it. I refer to it as the "Garage Syndrome"—junk swells to fill the space in the garage.

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition

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Author:Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Released: August 1995
Type: Softcover
Pages: 336
ISBN:978-0201835953

Not too long ago I had coffee with fellow tweep, Peter Kretzman, at the Zeitgeist Coffee in Seattle. We had a wonderful conversation and shared stories, philosophies, and impressions. In the process we stumbled upon a common literary love—The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks. I read it for the first time last summer and Peter reads every few years. We both extolled the virtues of the book and lamented at the fact that so many of the items Brooks brings up continue to plague us today.

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

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Author: Geoffrey A. Moore
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: August 2006
Type: Softcover
Pages: 227
ISBN:978-0201835953

To be a great project manager, you need to understand business. Your job is applying change to improve an organization, you had better understand why some changes and some leaders can create a metric differ to a company.

Sunday, 21 November 2010 00:00

Just Shut Up and Listen

A speaker at a recent conference asked the well-dressed audience, "When is the best time to listen?" As with most presenters' questions, there was a host of blank stares, a few people rustled in their seats, and the remainder diverted their eyes to their laps as if a sudden important message had appeared on their notepad. After a pregnant pause the answer came, "When someone is talking." A relieved, yet embarrassed, chuckle rippled through the suit-clad audience. The advice is a good start; however, listening entails significantly more effort.

Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes

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Author:Robert S. Kaplan, David P. Norton
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Released: February 2004
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 454
ISBN:978-0201835953

Projects build capabilities to meet corporate goals. If you are a CEO, you need to make sure your employees and vendors know what those goals are and how they fit in to the plan. If you are a project manager, you need to know the bounds of you project. If you are anywhere in between, you need to understand how all the pieces fit together and keep it all aligned.

Sunday, 04 October 2009 00:00

Multitasking Wastes Time

Multitasking Image How many times have you heard someone say men are poor at multitasking? Well, that is probably a good thing, since multitasking is horribly inefficient. When I first said this in a presentation, people were shocked and took exception to the statement. After a few studies on the subject (summarized in a Harvard Business Review article), people are listening and agreeing. This should be nothing new. Looking at some of the more common methods to reign in red projects—Agile and Critical Chain—one premise they share is dedicating resources.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

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Author:Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling
Publisher: Free Press
Released: April 24, 2012
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 352
ISBN:978-0201835953

This is a non-project management book that discusses how to achieve results in the execution of a plan. The four disciplines are great change management tools that get results and keep people focused. Where it is valuable to a project manager is in its education on how to keep people focused on a goal. It can you used to help your team on short term progress or on driving your project's customer to focus on what they need to achieve success. If you plan to make the move from project management to any other operational mode--even to the PMO--this book gives a number of good tools.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

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Author:Roger Fisher, William L. Ury
Publisher: Penguin Books
Released: May 2011
Type: Softcover
Pages: 240
ISBN:978-0201835953

One of the primary tasks of a project manager is to negotiate—negotiate scope, negotiate for resources, negotiate for money, negotiate end dates, etc.—there is almost nothing that a project manager has as a give. Even in your personal life, negotiation skills are essential for dealing with everything from your kids' bedtime, to the price of your next car. Understanding the art and science of negotiation is critical. This book, especially in conjunction with one of our classes, is a great way to get you down the road to improving you negotiation skills. Don't be fooled though, negotiation takes practice.

The Seven Arts of Change: Leading Business Transformation That Lasts

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Author:David Shaner
Publisher: Union Square Press
Released: November 2010
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 184
ISBN:978-0201835953

This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

In my opinion, as a project manager, you cannot read too many books on handling change. Each gives you a different perspective on how to effectively deliver a project whose product is valuable. This is a lesser known book, but has a great perspective.

Many businesses try to change, but few succeed. At best, a few buzzwords and new reports become part of the company's structure. At worst, programs crash and burn, and the members of the organization become irreparably disillusioned with the revolving door of new-mission statements. According to David Shaner-a business consultant with a 100% success rate of change at companies including Duracell, Frito-Lay, Caesars Palace and Gillette-the problem is that those changes don't address either individuals or the corporate culture. They're only on the surface.

Monday, 31 August 2009 00:00

A Portfolio of Processes

Many companies have some form of a portfolio management group to manage their projects and their backlog. The projects they govern range from network pulls to new software development. However, most use only one methodology to run these projects. It may be waterfall, Agile, Critical Chain or some other process. This is analogous to having only one knife in the kitchen. Anyone that has cooked more than a few meals realizes that a table knife is insufficient for all your kitchen needs. It purees tomatoes, cuts meat poorly, fails at filleting fish and suffers as a steak knife. There are hundreds of knives, each designed to do some specific job. As with many jobs, some tools are better than others are for certain tasks.

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Filling Execution Gaps

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