October 13th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Volkswagen, once renowned for “German Engineering,” is in turmoil with the news that it engineered its cars to falsify fuel emission standards. A disastrous ripple effect is causing a CEO resignation, a 30 percent drop in share price, the loss of corporate reputation and a hit to Germany’s GDP.
This huge, skillfully-engineered effort to deceive consumers and regulatory authorities requires more than just replacing the CEO, considering the size and scope of the deception. There were clearly problems throughout the entire enterprise:
- Lack of transparency
- Lack of accountability
- Lack of sufficient controls to monitor and prevent malfeasance
- Profound human error and failure of ethical standards.
This should be a wake up call for management everywhere to review their project procedures and new product development systems enterprise wide. Management, project managers and teams should take the lesson – if you don’t take accountability…..accountability takes you.
September 29th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Back to School is over so … Happy Holidays!
Some 32 million Americans started their holiday shopping by Labor Day…and are demonstrating that the impact of procrastination on holiday shopping and project implementation is similar.
Last minute shoppers use the back-scheduling approach, working from the latest allowable time for the task. They shop on Christmas Eve; no room for slippage. If the car stalls or snowstorms hinder overnight delivery, recipients get gifts from the nearest 24 hour drugstore – and the distinct impression that the giver couldn’t be bothered.
The early bird shoppers use forward scheduling and select the earliest possible start date. In our terms, shoppers are shifting the Worry Curve and avoiding procrastination. They save time, aggravation and money by avoiding last minute desperation splurges, just as project teams can find and handle problems because they have room for slippage – no need for crazy overtime and budget overruns.
Smart retailers see the wisdom of an early start – some are already airing holiday ads. Meanwhile, smart project managers can take a tip from those early bird shoppers and learn how to get a jump on their project deadlines…and much more.
September 24th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
In today’s multi-project environment, empowering teams is a survival technique, not a management technique. Yet PSI trainers and consultants still find managers who over-monitor, dictate how tasks should be done, or insist on daily work breakdowns. The result? A demotivated, demoralized, disengaged team.
Micromanagers hide by calling themselves “perfectionists“. Here’s a quick summary of the difference:
- A perfectionist insists that project materials and reports contain no typos.
- A micromanager rewrites everything for style, not substance, and proofreads everything personally because s/he doesn’t trust Spellcheck.
If that sounds familiar, try these behaviors:
- Barring emergencies, wait for the update meetings.
- Don’t ask to be copied on emails for small details.
- Monitor activities with a one-to- two week (5-10 working days) timeframe to avoid tracking minutia.
- Share the big picture; let staff figure out how to achieve it.
Of course, letting go is easier with a system that empowers teams so managers can supervise multiple projects effectively.
Meanwhile, for the micromanager in your office, send them this. They’ll probably need to lie down with a cool compress for the rest of the day – so you can get some work done.
September 15th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Many experts advise that disruptive technologies, especially digital disruptions. will be responsible for the loss of many jobs and the creation of many others. Where will disruption leave your job? Your company?
The result of relentless technological advancement is that continuous, ongoing learning throughout a career and within any enterprise is a feature, not a bug.
Continued employability will likely rely on a track record of successful projects and a willingness to learn new techniques and methodologies. No one can afford an “I already know that” mindset or an “I don’t have time to learn something new” attitude.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a project methodology that was simple to understand, consistently delivered good results, and didn’t require a large investment in time to learn?
And even more important, a methodology that could work with most any existing project management methodologies and most likely, will work with whatever new methodology emerges next?
That’s the kind of disruption anyone would welcome.
September 10th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Microsoft’s Windows 10 is generating a storm of coverage about its rollout being hijacked by scammers tricking folks into installing ransomware on their computers.
No doubt Microsoft thought it was making the upgrade foolproof by automatically installing the upgrade. Sadly, we live in a world where hackers hack, spoofers spoof, people don’t read the instruction manual and drivers don’t ask for directions.
In other words, we may be hardwired for optimism, but project managers should save it for team morale-building: realists make better project planners. Project plans based on best-case scenarios don’t take into account that fraudsters hack, employees give notice, or competitors preempt a new product launch. Similarly, plans built using worst-case scenarios, not only result in unrealistic project completion dates, but a loss of credibility.
The Project Success Method can show teams and managers, in a matter of days, how to plan for contingencies, and how to schedule for the unexpected with techniques like the Worry Curve, forward pass scheduling, strategic compression and much more.
It’s the kind of project management approach even a pessimist could love. It might even turn them into optimists as the project deadline approaches, on time and on budget.
September 8th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
One cause of project failure can be found on desks in offices everywhere: “Side of the Desk Syndrome.” This strikes when team members juggle tasks for different projects, especially for projects that are “add ons” to a regular workload.
The result: The extra projects are shoved to the side of the desk, and tackled in spare moments. The tasks are deprived of the kind of focus that gives good results, or left untouched until “crisis mode.”
Luckily, there are some remedies:
-A simple, repeatable and proven methodology that can be learned in two or three days.
-A scheduling system that frees teams to tackle tasks on a schedule based on their own time estimates and with their full commitment.
-A proven cure for procrastination that empowers team members without micromanagement.
“Side of the Desk Syndrome,” while not life-threatening, is part of a serious business problem. One 2012 study reported that the average large IT project runs 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, but delivers 56 percent less value than predicted. Cumulatively the study estimated that cost overruns for large IT projects ran to about $66 billion – enough to fund about 91 more missions to Pluto.
September 4th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Who owns your project? Is it the customer? The stakeholders? The project manager? The project sponsor? The one who signs the checks?
Despite semantics about distinctions between “responsibility”, “authority” or “accountability”, the key is performance. The project team and their performance drives the outcome, and a powerful way to enhance performance is by fostering ownership of the project – not necessarily by profit sharing or company stock – but with psychological ownership.
So effective is psychological ownership, one study shows, that it can boost motivation and productivity even among unmotivated employees with a bad attitude.
PSI’s training encourages ownership from the very start of the project and throughout:
- Teams are actively engaged in planning and scheduling.
- Teams control their schedules provided they meet the deadlines they agreed to.
- Face to face meetings every two weeks encourage dialog and team unity.
- Encouraging communication so that everyone feels they’ve been heard.
Employee ownership is not bestowed or assigned, but developed over time. With a skilled project manager, even diverse teams can “own” their projects and find professional satisfaction…and a bit of personal satisfaction as well.
That’s what I call The Joy of Ownership.
September 1st, 2015 by Clint Padgett
How’d you like to get an extra 40 percent of productive time at work and maybe even save lives?
Despite claims that texting during meetings or operating a tablet and smartphone simultaneously is working smart, science says otherwise:
- One research study found that switching repeatedly between tasks causes brief ‘mental blocks” while the brain recalibrates itself for the new activity. The cumulative effect of switching consumes up to 40 percent of someone’s productive time.
- Some other studies claim multitasking can actually cost 15 IQ points and even shrinks your brain.
In project management (or any office environment), multitasking causes poor focus, sloppy planning and implementation, or emails with typos. It can put a career or a project off the rails…but in other circumstances, it can kill.
Multitasking behind the wheel – known as distracted driving – claims more than 3,000 lives a year and causes hundreds of thousands of injuries.
So as summer comes to an end and school begins, make sure all the drivers in your family monotask on the road; no eating, drinking, texting, phone calls, putting on makeup or even changing clothes while driving.
Don’t roll the dice just to save a few seconds or minutes. You might just save an eternity that way.
June 18th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
There’s an interesting message hidden in the offerings at the recent Project Management Institute’s World Congress. Classes in Technical Skills comprised only 18 of the 65 classes listed by “content aim;” the largest individual class category was not about Agile, or Change Management – it was “Leadership Skills for Project Managers, Program Managers and Portfolio Managers.”
It affirms our conviction, backed by a survey quoted by PMI, that people skills are a major factor in a project manager’ career.
Trends in leadership theories abound; Googling “Business Management Leadership Theories” yields nearly two million hits. It’s easy to get tangled up in Theory Overload –
- Recognize that the most important element in a project is time
- Earn and maintain the trust of the project teams
- Inspire the team members commitment to the project with mutual support and individual accountability.
Those three points work together and will work with just about any theory, yielding successful projects and successful careers.
June 16th, 2015 by Clint Padgett
Society is becoming ever more reliant on digital solutions – even delivering anesthesia. This is certainly evident in project management; although Microsoft Project leads the top 20, there are literally hundreds of others available.
PSI trainers often hear of enterprises looking for the “silver bullet” software solution, but our mantra is “Software doesn’t lead projects, people do.” The human element is what drives project success; even the most powerful and sophisticated software will fail if:
- Project managers can’t strike the right balance of project oversight and either micromanage or under-manage.
- Project managers lack soft skills in people management, consensus building and communication.
- The people who will actually do the work have insufficient input into planning.
- The project charter and schedule are not updated, monitored or committed to by the teams and the project leader regularly (preferably every two weeks or less).
A company with the same problems no matter what software it uses may need a more comprehensive solution that goes beneath the surface. But no matter what software option you choose, people will still be a decisive factor in the success of your project…at least until Skynet takes over.
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