Project Management Archive

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Follow the Process

A process isn’t a process if you don’t follow it

I’ve been on the National Yellow Pages consumer choice opt-out list for 4 years.  Since registering, how many times in the last 4 years do you think I have received a Yellow Pages phone book?  That’s right, 4 times!  Each year I receive a phone book and promptly throw it into the recycle bin; each year I promptly submit a complaint to the website. Within 24 hours, I get a notification that they will notify the distributor of the error.

Why does this process fail?

  1. The people who are supposed to follow the process just don’t care.  If the job is to deliver phones books quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they dumped the entire annual delivery at the local recycling center and nobody would even care.
  2. The feedback loop is annual.  I doubt someone chooses a career in phone book delivery.  Even if they do read the non-delivery address list, they’ll be out of there before the next annual delivery.
  3. Nobody is held accountable. If they were, I would have complained once. Still, it’s not worth a class-action lawsuit. I’ll just blog about it.

opt-out

 

proc·ess

/ˈpräˌses,ˈpräsəs,ˈprō-/

noun

1.
a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
“developers not unit testing their code could derail the application development process”
synonyms: procedureoperationactionactivityexercisejobtaskundertaking More

verb

1.
perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it.
“the various stages in processing the change request”

Still getting a phone book? Tell me why! I’m sure it took a while to phase out buggy whips when the automobile came along. I’m still scratching my head on the whole phone book thing.


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Busy Summer

User StoryThis summer, things come in three’s.

One

I’ll be hosting Lean Coffee Baltimore on July 11 at Mad City Coffee. >> Register Here >>

Two

I’ll be presenting at Agile2014 in Orlando on August 1. >> Register Here >>

Three

I’ll be conducting a 2-day user story workshop on August 14-15 in Bowie, Maryland. >> Register Here >>

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Lean Coffee Baltimore

lean-coffee-baltimoreWhat is it?

Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated.

Where is it?

Mad City Coffee opens at 07:00 and is a coffee shop/coffee roaster minutes from the Columbia Mall and moments away from Howard Community College. We’ll be about equal distance between Baltimore and DC for this event at 10801 Hickory Ridge Rd, Columbia, MD.

When it it?

Friday, July 11, 2014
7:30 AM to 8:30 AM

Click here to RSVP

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Tips to Break Into Project Management

Tips to Break Into Project ManagementGeoff’s Request

Professor of project management at Durham College, Geoff Crane, just published an ebook titled 52 Tips to Break Into Project Management. Back in early May, he told me he was compiling an ebook for his students and asked if I would be a contributor. Geoff and I have (virtually) known each other for several years. He’s written really on-point stuff over on his blog, Papercut PM.  One of my favorite pieces is titled How Relevant is a PMP?

So, what did he ask me?

I teach project management at Durham College in Ontario. My first batch of students will graduate next month and as a gift I’m looking at putting together an ebook for them…

What advice do you have for project management students fresh out of school who want to break into the discipline?

This is a burning issue for most of them–they’re really looking for advice. As someone with a vested interest in the field, I know your insights will be valuable.

The resulting ebook was really well put together. I’m honored to be included in the list of contributors.

You can even click through the ebook via Slideshare (see below).

Tips to Break Into Project Management

So, what did I have to say?  I wanted to keep it short and sweet.  I have nieces and nephews still in college, so I can empathize with Geoff’s students.  I limited my response to a bulleted list of 10.

1.  Grab the first opportunity that comes your way. Don’t play hard to get.
2.  Get in there and really hustle. Work smart and hard.
3.  Give all the credit to everyone else. It’s the experiences you’re looking for.
4.  Pay attention to what others are doing around you. This includes people who are not project managers.
5.  Try to learn a little something from everyone, even those whom you may not like.
6.  Don’t get too upset if things don’t go as planned. Things are going to get messy.
7.  Focus on what is valuable to your customer first, to your boss second, and yourself last.
8.  Share what you learn with others.
9.  Ask a lot of questions (even dumb ones).
10.  Be honest.

Image Source: Pictofigo

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Top 10 Negative Personas of a Daily Standup Meeting

standingAll Agile teams should be holding a daily standup meeting.  Don’t think of it as a daily planning meeting. Think of it as a daily opportunity to have a shared understanding of what is getting done and what lies ahead.  During a daily standup meeting, participants sometimes exhibit negative behavior that will detract from the meeting.  As an empowered team, it is your job to self-manage and encourage good behavior. Some of these behaviors are so common, we don’t even realize people are doing them. So, I’m giving them some names. Next time you hold a daily standup, see if anyone (including yourself) exhibits any of these 10 behaviors.

Rather than using the list as a means to label others, use it to reflect on yourself. How might others be perceiving you? Is the persona you are projecting counter to your goals? 

If you think of some behaviors that should be added to the list, I would love to see them.

Daily Standup Meeting Negative Personas

 

10. Pat Decker the Obsessive Phone Checker

This person does not always pay attention and is constantly look at her (or his) phone. Did a BFF just like something? Did someone on Twitter just favorite that pic of the team board? In addition to checking her phone, she likes to share what she sees with others during the standup. “Pssst, Bob, check out this Vine video or pic on Instagram”. She’s not so loud that she’s overly disruptive but now Bob missed what someone else said during the standup.

9. Stephen Craig who is Always Too Vague 

This person can get stuck on the same task for days but doesn’t want anyone to know. When speaking to the team, they are crazy vague. Stephen will offer very few details until the team pushes for a deadline. He (or she) will use language like “Yesterday I was working on task 123 and today I will be working on it some more”. No other information is volunteered. When asked if they need any help, they clarify they have no blockers or risks.

8. Bobbie Bainer the Team Complainer

When the attention is on Bobbie, get ready for the positive energy to be sucked right out of the room. Bobbie complains, complains, and complains some more. Management, teammates, or the technology is all fare game. Everything and everyone sucks and no one knows just how bad they have it. Don’t bring up religion or politics unless you want Bobbie to go right into a 20 minute tirade.

7. Jess Jewler who loves the Water Cooler

Jess comes to the daily standup to talk, but not about what needs to be done today. Instead, he or she will talk about just about everything else. The next 15 minutes is dedicated to the water cooler. Did you see the last episode of House of Cards or The Walking Dead?  Are you going to watch the Ravens play this weekend?  My son plays Minecraft and constructed this totally awesome building with redstone. Anything is fair game, as long as it’s not about work.

6. Billy Platitude with the Bad Attitude

Billy is a leftover from a bygone era. He was the best of the best mainframe developers and all he needs is a DLD and he’ll give you what you need… in a few months. You want any changes between now and then? Forget it!  He thinks all things agile are stupid and just plays along begrudgingly. You may catch him make cynical “funny” comments at standup to point out how right he is about how stupid agile is.

5. Will Funky the Non-Committal Junkie

Will does not want to be painted into a corner. Typically, he uses language like try, maybe, pretty sure, I’ll get back to you, we’ll see, would like to think, soon, almost. You’ll also see Will be the last person to comment on something and will usually go with the crowd.

4. Tom Mater the Specialty Updater

Tom only gives vague commitments, usually understandable only by those in his discipline. The overall team gains little value from the statements. If you ask him for details, he’ll either tell you to look it up in a tool or he’ll be very technical in his response. Half of the team doesn’t understand what the hell he’s talking about.

3. Drue Gru who thinks he’s Better Than You (and the team)

Drue has been around for a long time. He’s better than you and he knows it.  If you need him, you know where to find him. He either arrives to the standup meeting late or he doesn’t come at all.  He has little to say because you wouldn’t understand what he’s talking about. He already knows everything so what is he to gain by slumming with you and the team for 15 minutes? Let him know when something important happens. *sarcasm*

2. Pearl Revolver the Problem Solver

Pearl means well but she lacks a sense of time. She wants to have in-depth problem solving discussions on obstacles identified during the standup meeting. She’s very curious what issues others are having because she’s going to want to talk it out and fix it right then and there. Even if there is a reserved 15 minutes after the standup, Pearl figures there is no better time than the present to tackle a challenge.

1. Ian Krumpter the Interrupter

Do you listen or do you wait to talk?  Stop and think about that. There is a difference. Ian waits to talk. People can be binary in that way. If you’re talking, you’re less likely to be listening. He wants to prove just how awesome he is so you’ll see him interrupt even if the topic doesn’t really apply to him.

 

Thank you to the other coaches at LeadingAgile for their contribution to this post. The original post was dated March 17 over at the LeadingAgile blog.

Image Credit: Pictofigo