Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lean Project Management

I've been doing some work on Agile/Scrum lately and I started thinking about Lean Enterprise from my Six Sigma class. The origins of Lean to a large degree come from work by Toyota and focus on manufacturing, but there are some concepts that can be applied to project management.

One area that struck me was muda, which is typically translated as waste but can mean uselessness. Have you ever had to do something on a project that added no value? I know I've done things like create status reports in 3 different formats for different audiences, even though the content was the same. Then there's the task of trying to create a detailed project schedule during planning even though there are a lot of unknowns. You can make a lot of assumptions, but then you have to go back and change everything when your assumptions turn out wrong. Or putting a status report on a shared folder but also emailing it out to a distribution list.

An Agile project management approach will address some of this, but a lot of organizations don't want to leave their waterfall approach behind. You can still apply lean thinking to a traditional PM approach. The key is to look at the process and eliminate any activities that don't help add value to the final product, things like extra bureaucracy, un-needed features (goldplating), or poor communications. If you need some help, go find your resident Six Sigma Blackbelt.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Buddhist Quote

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

I came across this quote in a book I'm reading, though I've seen it before. It's an interesting concept, when we're ready to learn, we'll find the resources to help us learn.

I am being considered for a "teacher" assignment. I will be acting as a mentor for some project managers. However, even though I am there to teach, I am sure I will also learn. I'm looking forward to the opportunity.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Project Management Maturity

I wrote an article on project management maturity that was recently published in Projects@Work. It can be found here (free registration required).

Let me know what you think, or leave your comments after the article.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking next Monday (14 Jan) at the PMI Kansas City Mid-America chapter meeting. The topic is Project Management Maturity. More details can be found here.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Are you ready for the New Year?

I have always liked to take some time during the holidays to contemplate the coming year. Work is usually a little quieter, I'm not in the middle of some big project or anything so it makes it a good time to "sharpen the saw" as Stephen Covey would say. So hear are a couple of tools you might consider for the coming year:
  • Mission Statement - With all the books out there, my favorite is still “The 7 Habits of Highly Effevtive People” by Stephen Covey. His second habit is to “Begin with the end in mind.” In this chapter he talks about creating your personal mission statement. Things happen twice, first in our mind then in the physical world. Don’t we plan a project before we start execution? We need to do the same with our personal growth. Go here to start working on your mission statement.
  • Vision Board – This is a good tool to help visualize where you want to go. More on vision boards here.
  • Goal Post - This is an application in Facebook that will help you reach your goals by sharing them with your friends. (note - Goal Post no longer exists, but try this)
  • Journaling – I was introduced to journaling during a leadership program over 5 years ago. My journal has my personal and professional thoughts. It helps me reflect and think about what's going on in my life. You can find resources in journaling here.
I hope you like these. May the new year bring you everything you want.