Saturday, August 08, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The case is made for filling management roles with multiple resources. The first lesson is to recognize that these roles exist. The technical and project roles are filled routinely. Don't forget the client relationship role and optimizing the customer experience - especially on IT projects. ...
... "Every IT effort requires that the service provider play three distinct roles: project manager, technical manager, and relationship manager. While many independent project managers and consultants attempt to play all three roles, they do so at the risk to themselves, the project, and the relationship. " ...
Via TechRepublic: Roles in IT project
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Checking references, reference visits, and other external benchmarks are helpful to demonstrating to your governance team that you have done your homework with regards to outside-in perspectives. ...
... "Use reference visits to similar organisations to reassure your management. Best of all, put them in touch with their peers such as CFOs in those other companies to see how they view virtualization. " ...
Via DaniWeb: Virtualization
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Avoid these failure points by planning, aligning with business objectives, leadership and sponsorship engagement, adapting to business conditions, and discipline scope management. ...
... "most failures come about, not as a result of the technology, but as a result of the management of technology, says Michael Krigsman of Asuret ... " ...
Via Baseline: 5 Points of Failure
Thursday, November 08, 2007
You can't force innovation. But, you can stack the deck in your favor. Link creative people together. Create a sense of purpose. Sprinkle in some data and information. Provide some funding. Step aside. Check back at stage-gates to see how things are progressing. ...
... "Creating a network of innovators who can identify trends and connect important dots across the business will create value on an even broader scale, and may bring some new insights and opportunities back into your team or function. " ...
Via Innovate on Purpose: Managing innovation
Thursday, August 23, 2007
InsideCRM has an excellent cheat sheet for managers, covering topics such as:
- Body Language
- Meeting Deadlines
- Getting Along with Employees
- Managing Yourself
- Boosting Productivity
- Managing Finances and Resources
- Communicating with Clients
- Keeping Up with Change
- Resolving Problems
- Going Above and Beyond
I've read through the list and there are some excellent reminders and insightful tips here. This is the kind of list that's good to print out and read on the train, keep on your desk, and read periodically to renew your focus.
It's billed as a "common sense" list of advice, but I find that much of it is quite uncommon (you know what they say about common sense). Kudos for the folks at InsideCRM for putting this together.
Check it out...
The Manager's Cheat Sheet: 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders - Inside CRM
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Now that the press release is out, I'm pleased to announce the followup book to Napoleon on Project Management.
Tentatively titled Managing the Gray Areas, the book touches on many topics, such as principles, ethics, decision-making, incentives, staffing, critical thinking, and communication. For those familiar with my writings on lessons from history, rest assured that there will be plenty of lessons from history, as well as from philosophy, science, art, medicine, and business. Ultimately, it's a book about leading with humanity.
I'm also happy to announce that the book will be published by RMC Publications, the publishing arm of Rita Mulcahy's RMC Project Management. Many of you are familiar with Rita and her organization from their superb training products and services. Making this deal especially appealing was their shift in strategy toward taking on a small selection of new books (including general management and leadership books), and building products and services around them. I'm honored to be the first author to be signed to their organization under this new strategy.
I decided to write this book to address the many challenges that leaders face for which there is no easy answer. While consultants and magazine articles promote quick fixes and universal formulas, management is never that simple. In the book, I address tough questions, such as:
- How do you balance the need for responsiveness to the customer with the need for process control within your department or team?
- How do you maintain visibility of available resources without adding undue bureaucracy to your staff?
- How can you manage your time effectively, yet remain available to your people?
- Are recurring meetings effective or are they time wasters?
- When should you share the big picture with your team and when is it prudent not to?
- Should one person be expected to serve as a strategist and a tactician?
- Which is better; a generalist or a specialist?
- Which will give the biggest return; a good image or high quality?
- What should you do when an ethical dilemma challenges your core principles?
A while back, I entered some blogs on PMThink related to these topics, based on the two-day seminar I conducted in Philadelphia with productivity consultant Jerome Jewell. Since then, I did some fine-tuning and further research and saw the need for this book.
Of course, you can expect to see more blogs related to my research as I write the book, and from time to time I may ask for your opinions and examples. Meanwhile, here's the press release from RMC Publications...
RMC Publications Signs Agreement with Best-Selling Author Jerry Manas
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
UK IT projects, if not already visible, will come under more intense scrutiny. ...
... "Because it poses one of the biggest challenges to Mr Brown and his team, the management of IT projects in the public sector should be looked at first, say analysts at Butler. " ...
Via Contractor UK: UK Projects
Monday, June 18, 2007
Every once in a while, I come across a website that's a goldmine of information. Fred Nickols' "Skullworks" is a good example. He has a wealth of thought provoking articles, by himself and others, in areas such as consulting, organizational development, training & performance, strategy, and more.
One article I found particularly interesting is the one on generalists vs. specialists, which happens to be one of the topics on my upcoming book (more on that soon).
As many knowledgable leaders know---and Fred Nickols is no exception---leadership and management are by no means simple. They require serious thought and carry significant responsibility. Reading just one or two of these types of articles a week can help make the difference between being a good leader and a great one.
Nickols runs a consulting company called "Distance Consulting," which focuses on helping organizations help themselves, a noble cause indeed. Here's the link to his articles.
Articles by Fred Nickols
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
PRojects IN Controlled Environments, Prince2, offers a structured methodology for managing projects. ...
... "Prince2 is growing in popularity across all vertical sectors and is becoming the de facto project management approach. " ...
Via ComputerWeekly: IT Project Certification Options
Monday, March 26, 2007
If you wanted to sabotage a project even if leadership showed support for it, what would you do? Leadership support is necessary, but not sufficient. Look out for these signals. Have a strong change plan than purely compliance-driven, unless absolutely necessary. ...
... "Confuse meetings with plausible, but pointed, questions. Be too busy to do what's expected of you, e.g., fail to supply data or other resources. Or send a subordinate in your stead " ...
Management Support: Panacea?
Monday, February 26, 2007
It had occured to me the other day that project planning is a lot like driving a car. If you constantly look down at the road in front of you, you won't be prepared if traffic suddenly stops or changes pattern. It's better to look out at the near horizon.
And if you listen to the radio for the traffic reports, you'll be able to avoid problems before you even see them.
It's the same with project management. We need to focus on the current planning horizon as far as we can reasonably see (usually we can only see three-to-six months out with any degree of accuracy). And it's equally important to stay "tuned in" through networking, reading what's happening in your organization and the world, visiting your customers and stakeholders, and practicing MBWA (Management By Wandering Around).
The more we're tuned in to internal and external activities that could impact the success of our projects, the better position we'll be in to address problems proactively and head off a traffic jam or a change in pattern.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I recently read an enlightening book by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, titled, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management.
The premise of the book is that many organizations follow the guru du jour, or manage according to the book of "someone said so." As the book points out, if we only looked at the evidence, we'd see that may of these so-called truths are anything but.
Here are some examples of the lessons the book has to offer, always supported by evidence:
1) Forced ranking of employees doesn’t work, especially where people’s performance depends on interdependence with others. Furthermore, a survey of over 200 HR professionals by the Novations Group found that forced ranking (employed by more than half of the companies) resulted in lower productivity, injustice, skepticism, less employee engagement, reduced collaboration, lower morale, and mistrust in leadership.
The authors add that, if an organization trains people right and places them in an effective system, there’s no reason why 10 or 20 percent would automatically become incompetent every year.
2) Beware of your biases as a manager. Studies of NBA drafts showed that players picked earlier and paid more were less likely to be traded and had longer careers, regardless of their actual performance.
3) In the war for talent, don't forget that bad systems cause far more damage than bad people. Try redesigning systems and jobs before judging individuals. And don’t give people objectives unless the system and staffing can support it.
4) Watch out for dangerous incentives. One organization's salespeople shipped too far ahead of schedule just to win a prize. Some salespeople would hold customer returns in the trunk of their car so they still get their commission for that period. Others opened bad credit accounts because any order counted as a good order. In another company, incentives to complete truck routes early led to increased accidents and overloading of trucks to avoid multiple trips.
5) Strategy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Operational execution often has a greater impact on performance. The CEO of Wells Fargo once said, “I could leave our strategic plan on a plane and it wouldn’t make any difference. No one could execute it.” In U.S. football, virtually every play is designed to go for a touchdown. Unfortunately, reality gets in the way, as do mistakes in execution.
The authors point out that time spent pursuing strategic options could be better spent solving operational problems or focusing on customer needs. Organizations such as eBay and Intel use a “learn as you go” approach, putting something in the market and tweaking accordingly. Doing the right things is important, but not at the expense of doing them effectively.
6) Many changes, including mergers and acquisitions, ERP implementations, Six Sigma programs, Business Process Reengineering, cost cutting initiatives, and others, carry risks that outweigh the benefits and can be easily misapplied. People tend to underestimate the costs and overestimate the gains.
However, if it is determined that the change is still needed, the authors suggest we:
a) Ensure dissatisfaction with the status quo (i.e. the burning platform)
b) Communicate the same message repeatedly about the need for the change
c) Express extreme confidence in the change, but listen to concerns and adjust accordingly
d) Expect setbacks, errors, and miscommunication; Learn from it and revise processes. Never point fingers.
7) Based on proven evidence, in order to gain respect and trust, leaders should:
a) Act "as-if" - Be sure to act and talk like a leader
b) Have some sense of modesty. Understand the difference between knowledge (knowing things) and wisdom (knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know).
c) Know when to get out of the way.
d) Above all, be an architect of systems, teams, and cultures.
These are but a few of the valuable nuggets in the book. The book offers additional tips as well, plus loads of supporting stories, examples, and research. Perhaps most valuable is the chart on the various types of changes and risks associated with them. I highly recommend this book to all leaders.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Jack says you can't handle the truth. But if you're ready, I highly recommend Stephen Robbins' excellent book, The Truth About Managing People... And Nothing But the Truth.
Robbins has sold over 2 million copies, and I can see why. In plain, simple language, Robbins outlines 63 truths, supported by evidence, stories, and examples. Each truth is only a few pages, so you can open the book up at almost any page and find a gem. The whole book is under 200 pages in a small paperpack format.
The 63 common-sense truths span the areas of hiring, motivation, leadership, communication, team building, conflict management, job design, performance evaluation, coping with change, and managing behavior.
A few good lessons (paraphrased):
1) Productivity usually breeds satisfaction, rather than the other way around.
2) When interviewing, don't go on traits. Instead probe about past behaviors (i.e. "Tell me about a time when you ....")
3) Put people in jobs that match their personalities.
4) Out of all the traits people have, conscientiousness is the most frequent predictor of success.
5) Specific stretch goals produce higher output than generalized goals like "do your best."
6) Not everyone wants to participate in setting their goals. It depends on their nature, ability, time available, and other factors.
7) Judge behaviors, not people.
8) There's something to be said for "looking the part of the leader."
9) Expect the best and people will deliver. Expect the worst, and people won't dissapoint.
10) Experience isn't always a good indicator of success.
11) There's no ideal leadership style. Directive or supportive styles can work in different situations.
12) Teams often create negative synergy. Beware of loafers. Be sure to identify and measure individual efforts as well as team efforts.
13) Honor the work-life balance. Give flexibility and options.
14) Beware of the quick fix. What works for one company or problem doesn't always work for another.
For many more, and further explanations and examples, read the book!