Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Innovation in Project Management - from FixMyProjectChaos.com

Innovation in Project Management

Many thanks to Elise Stevens and Fix My Project Chaos on Podcast 90– Innovation in Projects with Trish Sutter.

Fixmyprojectchaos.com,  Podcast 90– Innovation in Projects with Trish Sutter, June 20, 2016, ©2016 Fix My Project Chaos.  http://fixmyprojectchaos.com/innovation-on-projects-trish-sutter/

Some take aways from the pod cast:
  1. PMO processes can become inflexible cutting off creativity.
  2. Innovation is continuous process improvement.
  3. Focus on what’s going wrong.
  4. If a company fosters a culture where PMs fear change and then nobody wants to innovate for fear of reprisal and there will be little innovation on projects.
  5. Project managers must have confidence in themselves to take the risk.
  6. Trusting your team to be experts within their own areas, Trust allows them to explore what they can do that is innovative.
  7. Be open minded and creative with your leadership strategy.
  8. Allowing failure, in order to allow innovation on projects. Akin to 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.
  9. Many small incremental innovations can all add up to big changes.
  10. Getting external information and stimulation does encourage you and your team to be more innovative.
  11. Allow yourself time to think each day on all ideas.
___________________

Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting from innovation to execution?  Call me.  For more information contact Trish at trish_sutter@thegoodprojectmanager.com.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Avoiding Major Mistakes

I was recently asked if I ever made a mistake that required a public apology.   Upon reflection, I am thankful that I have not made any major blunders.

But then I am a stickler for following process.  I love process as it does prevent numerous avoidable mistakes.  I categorize mistakes into several types:

Minor Mistakes

Minor mistakes such as omissions, typographical errors and misunderstandings.  I have made my share of this type.  I can say with 100% confidence that as soon as they are discovered, they are corrected with sincere apology to all impacted.  To let something go could only result in more and bigger mistakes.

Mistakes By Others

Mistakes made by others.  I have discovered mistakes made by folks on my teams before of all kinds.  Again as soon as the mistake is discovered it is corrected.  I apologize to the whole team for that mistake and keep my team member anonymous.  Because we all know that mistakes are valuable and that team member is now more valuable as they have learned from that mistake.   
  

Lack of Information

You know the old adage hindsight is 20-20.  Mistakes through lack of information can and do happen.  But those aren't really mistakes unless we fail to perform due diligence before making the decision.  We can only make the best decision based on the information available at the time.  If you have performed due diligence and the information isn't available, be assured that you have done all you could to ensure the decision.  When the information comes to light that steers you in a different direction, then correct the course moving forward.  You can't beat yourself up for not being a psychic. 

Woodrow Wilson

“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.”


Woodrow Wilson

Failure to Follow Process

Failure to follow best practices or process has proven to be the most costly of mistakes made in the world.  This where somebody short cuts a critical process such as
  • Cutting quality assurance testing or 
  • Making a decision without doing sufficient research to support the decision. 
  • Failing to immediately correct a past error.  
  • Failing to support your team when they make errors.
  • Discovering an error in a process but failing to correct it moving forward.

#1 Cause of Major Mistakes & Blunders is Failure to Follow Process

When I inherit a troubled initiative or portfolio, I do find that the problem usually lies in that the process was not followed.  This includes all kinds of failure including but not limited to projects, developments, technology, and mundane things as well.  Through trouble shooting it is found time and again that some back stream process was omitted or shortened that cause the failure to occur or reach a large order of magnitude.

History illustrates this over and over again.  So my advice to anybody looking to avoid major mistakes and blunders are as follows:
  1. Correct problems, errors, omissions and misunderstandings as soon as they are discovered.  This prevents them from turning into monster problems.
  2. Be supportive with your team.  They are human.  Help them correct mistakes as soon as they are discovered.  
  3. Do your due diligence before making a major decision.  Gather as much relevant information as you can.  Check with experts and others. When new information comes to light, correct the process and course moving forward.
  4. Follow the process.  If you don't know the process do a little research and find out what it should be.   Learn from mistakes and correct the process immediately going forward.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Innovation in Project Management


Can we innovate in Project Management?

"Yes!"

Innovation per Google:
in·no·va·tion
ˌinəˈvāSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: innovation
  1. the action or process of innovating.
    synonyms:change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, breakthrough; More
    new measures, new methods, modernization, novelty, newness;
    informala shake up

    "no appliance manufacturer can survive without an ongoing commitment to innovation"
    • a new method, idea, product, etc.
      plural noun: innovations

      "technological innovations designed to save energy"
Although Project Management is a fairly mature discipline, it can be made better.  Case in point, in 2013 PMI.org, released the 5th edition of the PMBOK.

When I achieved my PMP in 2001, there were 9 knowledge areas.  Today a new knowledge area called, "Project Stakeholder Management" has been added.  Along with  a stakeholder analysis.  They have added how Projects fit in the overall corporate picture from vision through execution.

So, is there room for more innovation?  Not only because there have been 5 editions of the PMBOK, do we know there shall be more innovations.

A portion of of my PM methodology innovations come from following the Project Closure process.  While my projects are successful, I always find things that can be done better.  It is though this process, that I find new methods that are not covered in the PMBOK.

Come to think of it.  There are a number of practices, that the PMBOK does NOT tell you.   Thus the topic for my next blog  "What the PMBOK Doesn't Tell You"

What do you think?  What is missing from the PMBOK?  Please share your thoughts on this.
____________________
Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting from strategy to execution?  I can help.  For more information contact Trish at trish_sutter@thegoodprojectmanager.com.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Connecting Strategy with Execution

I was recently asked:
"It's difficult to manage project portfolios and meet company objectives. How are you connecting strategy with execution?"
My answer is through the 3-Cs of Project Management. I find when I am put on a problem portfolio or program it is usually because communication failed somewhere to communicate the goals and objectives in one way or another.

Strategic Goals & Objectives


Strategic Goals & Objectives sit right in the middle between Mission & Vision and Execution. 
Strategy includes such things as specific goals and objectives with perhaps numbers and deadlines.  These strategic goals and objectives then feed the execution.

Portfolio Plans

Portfolio Plans then are the statements of specific actions or activities used to achieve an objective.  s
Programs and Portfolios are management constructs to better manage large numbers of projects or related projects and activities.  Remember projects produce deliverables, but the value is realized through programs.  

Program Management

Program management is not only for the planning performance against strategy but also are a management construct for managing the value of sub-programs, projects and operations.  It is the Program Manager's responsibility to align the program with the strategic goals and objectives to ensure appropriate use of the organizations resources and the initiative DOES PROVIDE BUSINESS VALUE!

The Program and Portfolio Manager have a duty to evaluate the strategy and the investment decision before defining the portfolio's strategy and accepting new programs and projects in the portfolio.

Communication Communication Communication

Remember the 3-Cs of project management?  Communication cannot be downward only!  Portfolio and Program Managers must report up to the stakeholders responsible for the strategy, not only the status & value of programs and projects undertaken to achieve the strategy, but also the feasibility of the selected strategy.  Many assumptions are often made when performing strategic planning.  It should not be a big surprise to anybody that reality of execution can change the strategic goals and objectives.   
So providing a feedback loop to the stakeholders of the strategic goals and objectives is required, allowing the stakeholders to correct the course if necessary.  It is through this communication loop that execution meets strategy.



What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.
____________________________________

Need help with strategy and execution?  I can help.  Contact me trish_sutter@thegoodprojectmanager.com


Friday, October 30, 2015

Go GREEN (Part 1), Simple Things Michigan Companies Can Do to be More Green


GO GREEN!


Go green doesn't mean go Spartans, Michigan State University.  In this instance we are taking about our our Carbon Footprint. 
There are several options that Michigan companies can adopt to go GREEN and help to reduce our carbon footprint on the earth.  These include:

  • Go 100% Virtual Office Space for all Knowledge Workers
  • Require Knowledge Workers to Work From Home at Least 2 -3 Days a Week 
  • Go to a 4 X 10 Work Week (appropriate for factories)

If Michigan companies with knowledge workers, were to require those knowledge workers to work from home even 2 days per week, by using virtual meeting places and teleconferencing, it would have a major impact for the companies, the employees, the state and our carbon footprints.

Knowledge Worker:  Requires a computer and phone to do their jobs.


Consider the following facts:

Michigan Civilian labor force 2014:  4,729,900 (5)
Per U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 4.3% of the work force already does work from home.  (6)
Knowledge workers are generally considered to be 28% to 45% of the work force. (7)
45% - 4.3% = 40.7% and let us round it down to 40% for ease of numbers. 

That means there are 1,891,960 workers that are eligible to work from home at least 2 days a week. 

With an average commute time of 25.4 minutes (6) and 20 miles (9). 
Thus the average commute is 40 mile round trip.  (9)
This average daily commute burns 1.6 gals (10) (corporate fleets average 25/miles/gal)

And there are 255 working days in the year.  Less 2 weeks vacation each. That leaves 245 working days. 

Savings


At 2 days per week  296,659,328 gallons of gasoline that would be saved

Two days a week equals 98 days/year.
Thus, 98 days X 1.6 gals X 1,891,960 workers = 296,659,328 gallons of gasoline that would be saved.

That much less traffic would lower insurance rates!

At 2 days a week,  7,416,483,200 miles that would NOT be driven on our Michigan roads in a year.

The State of Michigan and counties would benefit long term for maintenance of the roads because
the above equates to 7,416,483,200 miles that would NOT be driven on our Michigan roads in a year,
That much less wear and tear on the roads that must be maintained through public funds.

Benefit to Employees and Companies

Since the actual cost for the daily commute is approx.. $20. (9)
Companies that employ the 100% virtual, will instantly give their knowledge workers the equivalent of  $4,900/year raise. 
Companies that employ the WFH 2 days a week, will instantly give their knowledge workers the equivalent of $1960/year raise.  
Companies that employ the 4X10 work week will instantly give their employees the equivalent of  $980/year raise.  

Plus you are giving your employee a better work/life balance.


Benefit to the Company

Companies that go 100% virtual, could do away with a lot of office space.  Commercial office space isn't cheap, but going 100% virtual, would considerable reduce the need for a lot of square footage.  If the company can go to a 4X10 work week, there are very large savings for electricity and heating costs.  There are more benefits than just these.   


Question of Federal and State Tax Breaks 



Global warming is fact.  We have to reduce our carbon footprint and this is a very simple way to start.  The facts stated here are just for the state of Michigan.  Imagine if we can get the entire nation on board?  If the Federal and State governments offer tax breaks, it would certainly encourage more.  

Managing a Virtual Work Force 

There are other benefits companies can realize with a virtual workforce.  But there is also an art to managing a virtual work force.  In my next blog I will discuss the art of managing a virtual work force. 

If you need assistance with setting policy and managing a virtual workforce, please feel free to contact me directly.  

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this. 

References


1 Partners Green:  http://www.michigangreen.org/
2 Michigan Municipal League:  http://www.mml.org/home.html
By:  JC Reindl jcreindl@freepress.com

5 Michigan 1990 Labor Statistics:  http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.mi.htm
6  Average Commute:  with Oakland County, MI having the most motorist driving alone 85.7% of
7  The knowledge (worker) economy, Oct 1, 2005, Hugh McKellar
8  Kinja “Compare your Commute time to the rest of America’s with this interactive map”, Robbie Gonzalez,  http://io9.com/5988852/an-interactive-map-of-average-us-commute-times--how-does-yours-rank 

9 Your commute is costing you more than you realize, By Chris Taylor, NEW YORK Tue May 27, 2014 12:17pm EDT,  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/27/us-usa-commute-costs-idUSKBN0E721M20140527

10 Corporate Average Fuel Economy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy

Working With Millennials Can Give You Wrinkles You Didn't Know You Had

I had the opportunity to lead some millennials in a development project.  Per Wikipedia:
 Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.


So,  this kid was a young hotshot (and I shall refer to them as "HotShot" for the remainder).  The project was a web-based development project.  In reviewing what had been completed, I noted that it was only tested on Microsoft Internet Explorer.   Doing my project management risk assessment, we know that any web development for the consumer requires testing on multiple browsers.

The bare minimum is Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome for sites intended for desktops.  But the platform has expanded and mobile browsers are now part of that bare minimum.  So include Safari for Iphone, Android Browser and Chrome for Android and there are many more.

So I said to the HotShot.  "What about testing across other browsers?"
HotShot:  "I can't load all those browsers on my system."
Me:  "There are free online web browser testing solutions.  Do a search for them."

HotShot proceed to do the search and found a couple of free test sites and proceeded to test the application.  Exclaiming, "Oh wow, this is good."

Me:  "Will that work?"
HotShot: "Yes, thank you so much.  How did you know about this?"
Me:  "I have lots of experience.  I have been around.  I've done my share of web sites."  Pointing to my wrinkles at the same time. 

HotShot:  "You know they have procedures for that now."
Meaning my wrinkles.

Aghhhhhhh!!!!!!  You gotta love em.  HotShot was candid and trying to be helpful.  But beware, you may get the same when working with millennials. 

Other references:  Forbes:  What is a Millennial

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.
____________________________________

Need help with millenials in your work force? Strategy and execution?  I can help.  Contact me trish_sutter@thegoodprojectmanager.com


Sunday, October 25, 2015

How to Raise Your Power as a Leader



Do you want to be a powerful leader?  Then build great relationships.  Leadership is all about building great relationships. Those relationships include those who report to you.  

I used to frequently hear the saying, "there by the grace of God."  What is meant is that any one of us, could be in the "manager" position.  It also means leaders must be respectful to everybody, including their reports, because in the next job, that report could be the leader.  Leaders must be respectful to reports in front of others as well because if someone you want to hire is watching and sees a leader being negative or behaving poorly, they probably won't want to work for that leader and will recommend against others working for that leader.
"To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!'"
— Lao-tzu
I am surprised that in this day and age, in world class organizations, I have seen arrogant managers publicly treat their reports like children.   That manager is lowering his own prestige, by down talking his reports through his own arrogance.  Even if this is done in jest.  It makes the manager look insecure, un-approachable and thus lowers his credibility.

Best advice for leaders and everybody is to follow the golden rule.  The golden rule, although most widely known a Christian value, has long been a teaching of many religions and even atheists.  Jesus who was a Jew, states it as we know it today in Matthew 7:12. In Muslim religion:  
In fact the Quran goes beyond saying the Golden Rule by stating in more than four places that “Return evil with Kindness.” (13:22, 23:96, 41:34, 28:54, 42:40  --   
Remember we are all dependent upon each other in this world.  Either we prosper together or perish together. 

Leaders and "leaders to be" must treat your reports like you would want to be treated.  You have a responsibility to develop their careers as well.  Give your reports the support and opportunity to further grow themselves and their careers.   

Build great relationships and be a powerful leader!    

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.
____________________________________

Need help building your teams leaders?  I can help.  Contact me trish_sutter@thegoodprojectmanager.com