Friday, March 28, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Quote

This came from our church bulletin this weekend:

"When one door of happiness closes, another one opens;
but often we look so long at the closed door
that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."

- Helen Keller

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Buddhist Viewpoint

I came across this post in Marshall Goldsmith's blog. I have been a fan of Dr Goldsmith for some time. He has written a number of articles in Fast Company, one of my favorite magazines.

One quote I liked is "We cannot promise to do everything that people suggest we should do. We can promise to listen to our key stakeholders, think about their ideas, and do what we can. This is all that we can promise – and this is all that they expect."

A leadership guru I know says there is no bad feedback. Keep this in mind next time someone gives you advice and remember there's always room for improvement.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring is Here

It's officially Spring today, and it was even pretty warm here in Kansas, about 68F/20C. Spring is the time of new growth and new opportunities.

When was the last time you did something new? Are you stuck in a rut, running your projects the same old way. Maybe it's time for a new tool, or taking a risk and trying a new approach to things.

I'm on a project where some of my other team members don't want to try new things. I put together a wiki for part of the work, but no one else is participating. It also seems the project has been kind of stuck discussing possible approaches rather than selecting one approach and moving forward. I would rather move forward and if we are wrong, we find our mistake sooner and get on the right course rather than being stuck in analysis paralysis.

My new thing this week; I got my self a Apple MacBook. No, it's not the new super thin one, but it is a change from my long trail of Windows machines. I'm having to re-learn a little on how to use a computer, but that's what keeps us young.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Video of me from PMI

This video was shot at the PMI NA Congress in Atlanta last fall. Quality isn't great, but I think you'll get the point.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


There was an interesting article in this month's Wired about David Heinemeier Hanson, the creator of Ruby on Rails and Jason Fried, his co-founder at his current company, 37Signals. They have a philosophy that simple is better. Interesting enough, one of their current applications is a project management tool called Basecamp, which takes this approach to running projects.

Contrast this with a colleague of mine in the middle of a big Planview implementation project. This is a large IT organization with a lot of projects to track.

So how much tool do you need? The folks at 37Signals would say to much complexity is a bad thing, even to the point of being criticized for not growing their tools. On the other hand, some organizations need a big application like Planview to support a complex organization. However, I've also seen companies implementing complex tools in a hope that is will fix a weak, immature process (it won't).

So start simple, get your processes in shape, and then bring in the bigger tools when you need them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Future of the Project Manager

I was at the Kansas City PMI Chapter meeting last night. The speaker, Brett Hirsch from IBM, talked about the future of project managers. He didn't really have any earth shattering revelations, just some points to think about. Get a mentor early in your career, network, keep up on the latest tools, etc.

To me, a key piece of advice for anyone these days is to keep up on your skills. As the world continues to evolve, new tools are introduced, projects are sent overseas, those of us that are continually updating our skills are the ones that employers are going to find valuable. Brett mentioned agile project management and this is an area I am seeing growth in. The person sitting next to me said his company, a consulting company spun off from a Big-8 accounting firm, was starting to adopt Scrum. Others I talk to in the IT & Telecom SIG are also doing work in this direction and a bunch of us have gotten our Certified Scrum Master certification.

So what are you doing? Is it time for another certification? Time to take another position to gain some additional skills? Back to school for another degree?

Friday, March 07, 2008

On a Snowy Day

It's cold and snowy here in Kansas today. It seems like Spring will never get here. We had a couple nice days last weekend, but that was it.

I had a conversation yesterday with the CIO of a local Health System (bunch of hospitals). One of the challenges he sited was that the IT budget has to go against the other capital projects when funding decisions are made. So is it more beds or a new computer application? He also said the IT budget is typically cut back after plans are made, so projects originally planned for one year get pushed out to the next year.

In his organizations, the IT projects that get funding are being driven by business needs and the business needs are tied to the organization's strategy. It seems like such a basic concept, but how many organizations are really doing this? I know I've seen plenty of pet projects being done because some executive wants it, even though it isn't tied to the strategic goals. This is where a good portfolio management process is needed, to make sure the resources are only being allocated to the projects that really matter.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


The draft release of the PMBOK 4th edition is out at the PMI website for review. I spent some time going through it yesterday and there aren't any radical changes. If you want to provide your input, you have until March 22.

They have removed some of the management plans like scope, cost, and time. They got consistent in naming the processes, they're now all verb-object (e.g., Define Scope). They've also simplified some of the inputs and outputs to processes. There are now sections for gathering requirements and identifying stakeholders. The procurement area got the biggest overhaul, it's now down to 4 processes from the 6 there used to be.

There's still no mention of agile or lean or any related techniques. I have seen a trend of more of us traditional (i.e., PMP certified) project managers adapting agile techniques so I'm disappointed this wasn't included in the new PMBOK.

In general, it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I guess you can look at the updates to the PMBOK as a iterative approach, only the iterations are 4 years rather than 4 weeks like a Scrum project.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Climbing a Mountain

So I'm still making my way through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and I'm currently at a scene where the narrator and his son are climbing a mountain. The narrator is talking about another person that climbed the mountain, both in reality and in a figurative sense in a search for meaning.

So do you have mountains that are waiting to be climbed? Are you just sitting at the foot of the mountain listening to the stories of those few that were strong enough to go up? Your mountain may be taking that next step in your career or writing that book that you've always thought about.

A few years ago while in Japan I had the opportunity to climb Mt Fuji. It was a bit of a challenge, but I made it up, and it was worth the trip. Having made it to the top, my advice is to stop staring at your mountains and start climbing.