Friday, April 18, 2014

PMI Meeteing, Networking and Trust

PMI Meeting in Ashville

I attended the PMI chapter meeting in Asheville last night for a presentation by Teddy Burress. Teddy made a presentation on networking and focused on how to build a social network. The basic premise was networking was built on the foundation of relationships. Relationships begin with people you know and expand outward as the people you know help you find others with common interest and common concerns. The basis of this relationship focused on not how you can use the relationship to further your goals but how can use relationships to support people in achieving their goals. This foundational belief will lead to times when people see the opportunity to help you.
This presentation was not overtly related to project management but themes are consistent in building relationships with your clients, your team members and your project stakeholders. Relationships are also built on trust. Not in the sense of unconditional trust that you may share with people that you have a more intimate relationship but trust in the sense that you have shared goals and shared understanding and beliefs on how to achieve these goals.
Establishing trust with your client as well as your team and stakeholders is one of the critical skills they project manager. Without this trust communication suffers. Without this trust commitment to a common goal suffers. Without this trust is difficult to have fun on your project.
Trust comes from respect. It comes from shared values and it comes from a belief in a shared future. You developed this trust respecting your client, your team and your stakeholders. You developed this trust by sharing your values and living your values daily. And you develop a belief in a shared future through developing a common vision of success.
One of the critical aspects of the teambuilding meetings that occurred during project initiation is the development of trust. Depending on the project profile, the processes and the investment in developing this team will influence your ability as project manager to develop an appropriate project execution approach and address the various issues that arise during the life cycles of the project.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is your organizational personality?

What is your organizational personality?

I attended the Asheville PMI Chapter meeting last night and found a new way of looking at how I organize my work.

Paula McGarrell, Chief Visionary Officer of You Time Solutions, made a very entertaining and informative presentation to the Chapter. I was expecting another presentation on understanding or developing your organization’s culture, instead I ended up taking an assessment of my organizational preferences. It turns out I am visual, process at the general level, like things on paper and I am inner motivated.

I was not overly surprised by the results but now I had permission have sticky notes all over my office, draw figures on a whiteboard when I am thinking and print out documents so I can read them. The idea is NOT to organize to be more efficient but to organize in a way that makes me more efficient.

I tend to feel guilty when I print out stuff I need to read and wonder what people would think if they saw my desk. If I try to adopt someone else idea of how things need to be organized I will likely lose things and will not integrate information in a way that will be useful for me.

Something to think about when you are setting up a project. How do you organize work space to maximize the teams work efficiency, given that everyone will need work organized in a way that facilitates efficiency? For me this means I need someone on the team that organizes in more detail than is comfortable for me.

For more information check out


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide

Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide

The Project Management Institute published the electronic version of Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide.  The print version is available from PMI, $27.95 Member, $34.95 Nonmember .

The practice guide provides an approach for better understanding complexity on a project. Much of the guide provides a foundation in complexity and presents three categories of complexity: human behavior, system behavior and ambiguity. An assessment questionnaire is the center piece of the approach with  47 questions that can be answered yes/ no.

The strength of the approach is the ease of use. I believe any project team can study the Guide and use the assessment questionnaire to develop a better understanding and therefore a better project management plan. The guide is being currently being tested by PMI with four PMOs.

I believe this is a good foundational approach and as PMI beta tests and as researchers begin to build on this work, the professional will develop better tools for assessing and profiling projects.


Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide

Section 1          Introduction
Section 2          Organizational Considerations
Section 3          Encountering Complexity
Section 4          PMI Foundational Standards and Useful Practices
Section 5          The Assessment Questionnaire
Section 6          Complexity Scenarios and Possible Actions
Section 7          Developing an Action Plan

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Match Made in Heaven, An artilce in PM Network

        An article in the latest PMnetwork , March 2014, caught my attention with  a title: A Match made in Heaven. The focus of the article centered on three factors; the project requirements, the project managers’ skills and the organizations workload. The author suggested understanding the attributes of the project and listed the following attributes;

  • ·         Budget
  • ·         Schedule
  • ·         Scope
  • ·         Team building
  • ·         Clients facing skills
  • ·         Risk
Then reflect on these questions.

  1.  Will the project require a lot of client interaction?
  2. Will the team be virtual?
  3. Is this an ambiguous project?

           One company was described as maintaining a database of project management skills and experiences. Then using a team based approach to looking at the characteristics of the project and matching the rights skills and experience. The team also considered the organizations workload and admitted that the right skills were often added to the project late.
           The construction industry did a study a number of years ago and concluded the number one consideration in matching of project manager with projects was availability. Fluor attempted to develop a data of project management skills when I worked there and for a number of reasons the effort was scrapped after a couple of years. One reason was the priority of availability when a project manager was needed.
           There was a process for matching project managers and projects but it was a very informal process. In this case, the informality of the process worked well because it depended on a very strong and informal communication network.
            In a project organization where projects ended and the project team needed to find another project to maintain employment, the informal communication was necessary and very strong. This process also worked very well. If I needed a scheduler with international experience, who understood the chemical industry and had experience on project larger than $500 million, I might go to Ron, who would ask Tom who knew that Larry was soon coming off a project and had the skills and experience I needed.
            It would seem that a combination of these two systems might be the best way to approach the matching of project needs with project management talent.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Complexity Equation

In the November 2013 edition of the PMTWORK,  Donovan Burba* discusses project complexity as an increasing phenomenon within project management. I was interested in one quote; “the most difficult aspects to manage are the people within the project…” I wonder what else you manage on a project? I develop and monitor a schedule but I do not manage the schedule. I can change durations, change dependencies on the project schedule to manipulate it to be more realistic or to reflect a new milestone but this not management of a project. How do you manage a project except through people.

Complexity is not defined in the article but whatever it is complex projects need project managers with leadership skills and are less depended on technical skills. There are projects where the technical knowledge of the project manager is important to her understanding of the profile of the project and the development of an appropriate project execution approach. I would challenge that the relative need for technical skills in the project manager is correlated to the complexity level of the project. I do believe that there is a relationship between the project profile and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the project manager/ project team.

I would also argue that leadership skills are needed on all projects. The type of leadership skills depends on the project profile.

Understanding the complexity level of the project and the process for matching the execution approach with the project profile is a critical area of project knowledge development. This article highlighted some trends in project management but gave only standard “leadership is important” type solutions. Maybe a few well designed questions would have been more helpful.

* Donovan Burba works for Imagination and produces print and digital content for PMI and MSCI.