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Date: Saturday, 11 Dec 2010 19:37
Glen over at Herding Cats posted an excellent response to my recent post Video: Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management on the Mike Cohn video going around the web.

Glen's post includes a slide show focused on the argument that "you don't need agile to avoid The Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management."

The arguments Glen makes ring absolutely true - no matter what development process or methodology you are using, you won't be effective if you aren't using good project management practices.

While I'm not a practicing Agilist, I do believe it has its benefits and can be used successfully alongside sound PM practices to achieve project success. I thought Cohn's video was a compelling case for an agile approach with an awareness of the seven deadly sins, and didn't see it as necessarily trying to sell Agile as "the only" way to manage projects and conquer the sins.

track back: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341ca4d953ef0148c69bea99970c

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Software and Web Development, Agile, Pro..."
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Date: Friday, 10 Dec 2010 02:07
If you're at all interested in agile methodologies, StickyMinds has a great video for you: "Mike Cohn's "Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management". At just over an hour, this video provides a great overview of agile methodologies and is a specific discussion on the "Seven Deadly Sins" of project management - Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Opaqueness, Pride, Wastefulness and Myopia from Mike Cohn. I found it quite interesting - not your standard agile-shmagile web video.

There are slides to accompany the talk, and I found a link to a 21 page PDF over at Mountain Goat Software from Mike Cohn that seems to include the same content. It's useful to refer to when Cohn's going back and forth during his talk, or for referencing when you want to make a blog post ;)

When talking about Sin #2 "Lust" in agile, Cohn references a great quote from Kent Beck - it's the image at right, titled Working at a sustainable pace. The context here is that the definition for the Project Management Sin of "Lust" is:

Intense or unrestrained craving for new features.
Cohn says lust is experienced by:

Trying to put too many features into a product during the time allowed

Treating all features as "critical"

Cohn also had graphs and real world stories to back the "overtime rule". It was interesting to hear him describe the different user experiences (and look at the graphs) based on Kent Beck's statement - Overtime is a symptom of a serious problem on the project. Sure, this is old news, but after watching this segment of the video, there is no doubt agile has the data to prove it.

Check out the complete video: Mike Cohn's "Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management.

Download the PDF with color slides: "Mike Cohn's "Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Agile, Project Management"
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Date: Thursday, 09 Dec 2010 02:21
Politics - just utter the word and I shudder. But as we all know, get more than one person in the room and "politics" will inevitably come into the equation.

Now business politics are affecting the PM arena so greatly that allPM.com has three articles out this month dicussing the issue, and each is worth taking a look at for it's own reasons. Take a look at the intro's:
Beat ‘em with a STICK: Winning the Political Game By Steven P. Blais, PMP

Politics has a bad rap. Do you play politics? Your answer is most likely “no”, or perhaps, “not often, and not well”. Typically we like to think that it is the other guy who plays politics. You know, the one who got that promotion ahead of everyone else, or who gets the plum assignments, or who takes longer lunch hours to “schmooze”. We believe that if you work hard and long and honestly you won’t need politics.

"Unitics” Over Politics: Mastering the Art of Cutting through Politics to Achieve Optimal Performance By George Pitagorsky, PMP

Does politics get in the way of optimal performance?
Politics is a reality. Chances are it won't disappear anytime soon. At best, it stimulates dialogue and promotes a synthesis of ideas into practical action. At worst, it leads to dysfunction. It promotes divisiveness. It results in poor performance because ideas are judged based on belief and rhetoric rather than fact and logic, because people fail to seek creative solutions and because compromises are reached that blend the worst of both sides and leave out the best. Politics are about polarities – each party is dancing around his pole and viewing the other pole as being less than or bad.

8 Traits to Develop Project Management Political Savvy By Charanya Girish, PMP

By definition, a project is a temporary endeavor with start and end date and a desired result implying that a project is different from business as usual. In addition projects are staffed by several individuals trying to exert their influence on how to execute the project. This invariably results in some kind of office politics; i.e. project politics. How? Politics is nothing but people interacting with each other and influencing one another to get tasks accomplished.
Another recent article at the site I'll mention is Positive Leadership In Project Management – The Leadership Journey, By Frank P. Saladis, PMP. I'm a firm believer in personal growth and professional development. Being a leader is a life long journey of discovery for finding new ways to bring out the best in you so you can enable others to do the same!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Leadership, Professional Development, Pr..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Nov 2010 18:39
I just read a post by Bruce McGraw where he asks Has Project Success Has Declined?. It's an interesting question and the post references the recent Project Resource Management Survey from Cognitive Technologies that reveals a lot about our business culture.

Here are some of the tidbits Bruce summarized:

The full report on the findings reveals another discrepancy between the two groups of respondents: executives are more likely to view project resource management-related challenges as being less severe than project managers view them.

The report goes on to reveal other insights into the challenges U.S. companies face when it comes to managing project resources, including:

  • Organizations with higher project success rates are more likely to have standardized resource management tools and are more likely to believe their tools provide sufficient and timely information.

  • Larger organizations are more likely to have more sophisticated tools and processes, but are also more likely to experience project resource management challenges.

  • Organizations with fewer people working on projects are better able to track and status projects at the task level and are more likely to use past project data when planning future projects.

  • Since 2009, large organizations are have decreased use of past project data when planning future projects and are now more likely to reallocate resources without permission from existing projects.

  • Organizations experiencing fewer resource management challenges are significantly more likely to employ standardized resource management tools and processes.

  • Organizations that report project managers “have a voice” when management wishes to move resources are more likely to report higher rates of project success.
Read the rest here: Has Project Success Declined?

As Bruce notes, this is the 2nd report from CT and this year it was compiled from 250 surveys -- an overwhelming response of business execs and folks from the project management field. It's full of interesting stuff - check it out here: http://www.cognitive-technologies.com/
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Management, Project Management"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Nov 2010 21:14
I've had trouble with my publishing and feed systems for m-o-n-t-h-s, which has caused delays in some posts getting published and it seems like most were getting caught it a redundant loop, never making it to the blog. I had to turn the newsletter off until I got this fixed, and I believe the issue has finally been stomped out, as I managed to get a few test posts out yesterday - w00t!

I will publish the rest of the posts over the next few days and then everything should be good. The newsletter is working now too, so if you're a subscriber, you should be receiving daily emails when there are new posts.

This glitch has been driving me batty and I spent more time tracking this issue down than I wanted to. Technology - Love it, or Kill it? That be my question most days..

Thanks for your patience and for continuing for visit my blog!

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Ravens Brain"
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Date: Sunday, 26 Sep 2010 18:50
I just read Passion – The key to engagement for IT? by Eric D. Brown, where he dicusses the importance of harnessing your employees passion to get them more excited, and thus more engaged, in their jobs.

What I found interesting was his thoughts on IT workers. If you work in Tech, you'll want to Motivational Poster - from tdistler.comcheck this out:

Most people that I know in IT absolutely love technology. They love tweaking computers. They love learning about new technology. But yet…the majority of IT workers that I know aren’t 100% engaged in their work. They do what needs to be done to make it through the day. They ‘get by’.

What the hell have we done to our IT employees that has driven the passion away from one thing they’ve been passionate about their entire lives?

Its a heck of a question, isn’t it?

Most IT workers are overloaded, overworked and under-appreciated. Most IT workers dont’ have an opportunity to do anything more than keep the servers and networks running.

Perhaps that’s what we’ve done to our IT employees (and perhaps all employees?)….maybe we’ve allowed our drive to lower costs, improve productivity and increase market share to blind us so that we’ve forgotten that our employees are why we are where we are today.

People at all levels of the tech industry know it's a love/hate relationship, and it does seem to be true that these types of jobs dev, tech, support, etc., - and even PM's - often fall into the "just get it done" category. So perhaps we have forgotten why our people are there and managements needs to develop better ways to engage our employees. No matter what level you are at, think about what you can do to find ways to spark your teams passion and get them reinvigorated. There's a reason emloyee engagement is becoming such a big focus for a lot of companies - because they're realizing just how important it is to the health of the company and it's people.

Read more on emploee engagement here: The Employee Engagement Network
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Software and Web Development, Leadership..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Sep 2010 17:18
Cheri over at The Enlightened Manager just released a great post every project leader should read When Executives Behave Badly: Reframing the Discussion. How many of you have ever been in a project meeting only to find out the main blocking issue was "management", according to the team? Perhaps this is their perspective, perhaps there is much truth to the issue, but leadership often seems to come under fire when things aren't going right, and as managers we all have to admit there are things we can do to change the way we our supporting our teams.

Cheri offers two ideas for approaching a situation when a team believes management is the cause of their pain:
From Fail Blog - Thanks for Pic@
1. We are each responsible for our actions, and we can make good choices even when our environment makes it difficult. Take personal responsibility.

2. Our leaders can make it easier or harder to "do the right thing." If we see a disconnect, let's talk about respectful ways to ask our leaders that they support us. Not "you are setting a bad example" but "When you do X, it makes it harder for us to Y. We'd like to ask that you support us by trying to to Z. That would help out the team."
An equally interesting clip from her post I loved was this, because it is so true, and stated so wonderfully:

1) No Villains: I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Leaders don't sit in their offices rubbing their hands together, cackling, and plotting dastardly ways to annoy their teams. Even when leaders make mistakes, we shouldn't reduce them to "bad guys." Like us, they do what they think is best. Let's not confuse the impact of their actions (negative) with their intentions (positive).

Even when leaders make a bad mistake, let's hope it was with the right intentions. Of course, if they are making the same kind of mistakes repeatedly, then you have a different problem, but for the most part, let's try to give our best to give leadership the benefit of the doubt, eh?

Read more here: When Executives Behave Badly: Reframing the Discussion
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Management, Leadership, Communication Es..."
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Date: Thursday, 19 Aug 2010 01:42
This is a guest post from Lisa Forsyth, guest voice inside Raven’s Brain.

I'm pleased to announce the Employee Engagement Network recently released the e-book The Top Ten's of Employee Engagement, with my article, "Ch-ch-changes! Ten Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged Durime Them," included! Special thanks to David Zinger, who doggedly managed this herculean effort from "cradle to grave." I'm including the article below for the convenience of the busy managers out there looking to expand your employee engagement horizons in what little time you can spare. And yeah, for the increased distrubution as well.

Ch-ch-changes! Ten Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged During Them

1. Plan Ahead
It’s not uncommon for those of us who manage from the middle to find that the planning, Fromt the Partner's In Excellence Blogexecution, and pace of communication around organizational change is outside the scope of our control. But we can still plan ahead. We can focus our planning efforts on the people we support--think about what the change means on an individual level, how you want each person to feel about the change, their differences in work and communication styles, and repare to pull each employee into the vision.

2. Know where you are going
There is nothing more grounding during times of change than knowing
where you are going, and nothing more reassuring than believing you can get
there. It is our job to articulate the purpose and advocate the change in a way
that is meaningful and actionable at the team and individual level.

3.Give them something to stand behind
Re-energize employees around the organization’s core mission--the WHY you exist. Remind everyone of how it has been a great source of success and security in the past, and show them how it remains the center around which everything else can change. Re-engage each one in the big picture, and show them where their contribution has been, and continues to be, meaningful.

4. Set the tone
Effective and enthusiastic communication is crucial to building a common purpose across an organization. During times of change, communicate early, communicate with intent, and communicate often. Influence attitudes and behavior by communicating
confidently and positively. Most importantly, be authentic. Tell them what you
don’t know. If you’re not sold on the change yourself, share your reservations
and set the example for moving toward acceptance.

5. Acknowledge the loss
Change involves loss--the loss of the way it was before—and we cannot
move people towards acceptance of change unless we understand and acknowledge
what it is they stand to lose. Make time to meet each person and ask them how
they feel about the change; discuss current experiences, pain points, and fears.
Understand the loss they feel, and acknowledge the loss without challenging it.

6. What’s in it for them
While acknowledging the loss is important to maintaining engagement, we can foster acceptance and build engagement by off-setting the loss with a gain. Champion the change by forging connections between the goals of the organization and the individual talents and aspirations of those on the team. If you don’t know what your people aspire to, ask them! Find out where they want to go, and identify opportunities that help them get there.

7. Think inclusion
While it’s true that people are more likely to support what they helped create, it’s not feasible to include everyone impacted by an organizational change in its planning. We can, however, take action to broaden the level of inclusion once the change is actionable at the team level. Engage employees in the process of adjusting their team’s vision, mission, and goals to align it with the organization’s strategy. Include them through open dialogue and give them an opportunity to be heard.

8. Favor Freedom
When employees perceive an organizational change as infringing on
the level of autonomy they established and enjoyed prior the change, they are
less likely to adapt gracefully. But if we stay focused on results and paint a
clear picture of the desired outcomes for individual and company success, we
provide employees with a broad, mission-focused, framework from which they can
define their own path to success--we create an environment where rules can be
kept at a minimum and employees are engaged in the success of the company.

9. Lean into the Dip
Teams have to grow and bond together over time, and there will inevitably be an in-between period when the old is gone and the new isn’t fully functioning. Move people toward acceptance of the change by celebrating small wins and rewarding the successes of the new team. Be proactive and mediate conflict in ways that embody the new team mindset, and use problem solving as an opportunity to foster collaboration.

10. Observe and Reassess
We are all motivated by unique impulses that inform how we react to
change, any change. Be observant and notice what is going on around you, build
feedback loops into the process wherever possible, create dialogue, encourage
team members to share information openly, and LISTEN. Tell them what you can do, and ALWAYS do what you say.

Lisa Forsyth is currently the Director of Application Engineering at msnbc.com. You can learn more about her at her site at the Employee Engagement Network.

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Management, Leadership, Guest Voices, Te..."
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Date: Wednesday, 04 Aug 2010 23:11
Glen of Herding Cat's was kind enough to upload his briefing which highlights the FIVE Stages of Team Development. Yes, it's commonly referred to as the "four stages", but at Glen's site you'll find the complete version:

Forming --> Storming --> Norming --> Performing --> Adjourning.

The fifth stage, Glen kindly notes, was later added by original developer Bruce Tuckman.

Check out more here: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Project Management"
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Date: Friday, 23 Jul 2010 17:18
Top Tens of Employee EngagementI'm excited to announce that my article 10 Tips for Engaging a Project Team has been published in the Employee Engagement Network's newly released e-book The Top Ten's of Employee Engagement.

This is the fifth e-book from the Employee Engagement Network and the second that I participated in. It was spearheaded by David Zinger and actually began back in January of 2009. It was another great collaborative project and it was fun tying project management into the subject of employee engagement.

I think you'll find a lot of familiar names included in this list of "Top Ten" articles which center around the common theme of employeee engagement. Several focus on project management and I'd argue all are clearly related to our field as keeping employees and our teams engaged is key to any successful project.

Here's the list of topics and contributors:
  • Top Ten Today At Work Cartoons ~ John Junson
  • Strategies to Impact Engagement Across an Organization ~ Jennifer Schulte
  • Ten Questions Designed To Engage ~ Steve Roesler
  • 10 Ways to Spot an Engaged Employee ~ Ian Buckingham
  • Top Ten Ways to Define and Refine Your Culture to Engage ~ Tim Wright
  • 10 Rules of Employee Engagement ~ Susan Stamm
  • 10 Ways to Build an Employee Engagement Improvement Strategy that Really Works! ~ Faye Schmidt
  • Ch-ch-changes! Ten Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged During Change ~ Lisa Forsyth
  • 10 Tips for Engaging a Project Team ~ Raven Young
  • Ten Engaging Conversations ~ Debbie Payne
  • 10 Ways to Engage Remote Teams ~ Wayne Turmel
  • Generational Engagement: 10 Ways to Engage Gen X & Gen Y Employees! ~ Scott Span
  • 10 Engagement Traps, Tips and Talking Points for Managers ~ Michael Aitken
  • 10 Steps to: Realizing Engagement through Global Strategic Recognition ~ Derek Irvine
  • 10 Ways to Build, Grow and Support your Offshore Outsourcing Team ~ Katherine M. Hingst
  • Employee engagement: How to be engaged when you work for someone who isn't. ~ Maureen Mack
  • 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Engage Employees Every Day ~ Sanna Wolstenholme
  • Engaging Leadership (and Leaders) ~ John Kmiec
  • 10 Skills to Engage in Your Work ~ Scot Herrick
  • Ten Tips for Managers ~ Jean Douglas
  • Top 10 Things Engaging Managers Do ~ Kelley Eskridg
  • Ten Ways for Leaders to Connect with Employees ~ Michael Lee Stallard
  • The Engaging Manager ~ Terrence H. Seamon
  • 10 Engagement-Building Behaviors for the Boss ~ Wally Bock
  • Engaging People from the Very Top - The CEOs Top 10 Engagement List ~ Dr Neal Knight-Turvey
  • 10 Ways to Create a Sense of Community When Leading A Remote Team ~ Alec Satin
  • Deep Constructive Conversations and Engagement ~ Mario Gastaldi
  • A Top Ten Tunes of Engagement ~ David Marklew
  • The Ten Green Engagement Commandments ~ Samantha Lizars and Peter Eyres
  • 10 Ways to Measure the Impact of Employee Engagement Interventions ~ Stephen J. Gill
  • 10 Principles of Employee Engagement ~ David Zinger

Click to read the Free e-book: The Top Ten's of Employee Engagement.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Teams, Ravens Brain, Book Reviews, Proje..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Jun 2010 03:30

I just got around to reading PM World Today's May e-Journal and there was once again a ton of great articles and papers for project managers. I like this online business mag and e-zine because their content is always well written by a wide array of global biz professionals and they offer a diverse range of topics and opinions about PM topics I care about.

A few I'll share here are:

Once you click on the link you get a page with a decent amount of intro text, enough to let you know what the article is about and whether you *want* to read more, and if you do - you click to read the entire paper in PDF format. Simple and Easy!

Check out their newsletter and see if it's something you might be interested in subscribing to. It only comes once a month and is packed full of PM goodness. You've got nothing to lose but the chance of learning something!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Project Management"
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Date: Sunday, 30 May 2010 16:32
Dan over at Great Leadership wrote another excellent post on the often dreaded performance review: 10 Opinions on Performance Reviews. He references two recent articles (here and here) that argue for tossing performance reviews out the window. Good stuff you need to read!

I love Dan's writing because he always puts alot of thought into what he has to say and he Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters - at Amazon.comprovides links to extra information and back articles so you can follow past conversations. What he has to say on performance reviews is insightful and grounded in real-world experience:
1. Most, if not all, managers hate writing them and hate delivering them. They hate them because it’s so hard to come up with new things to write about “communication” every year, they are time consuming and tedious, and delivering feedback about a performance issue is about as fun as getting a root canal.

2. Despite of that, a lot of managers, maybe even most, put a lot of work into the process, try to do a good job with them, and play by the rules that are handed to them. Despite the watter-cooler & blog horror stories, the majority of managers are not complete morons.

3. Employees love getting positive reviews. They actually do take them home and show their family and hang them on the refrigerator. However, very few people enjoy or respond well to “constructive feedback”. Basic human fight or flight mechanisms take over. It doesn’t matter if it’s delivered once a year or once a day, it still feels the same. So if it’s not outstanding, employees hate them too.

4. No one should be immune from being evaluated, judged, graded, or scored. I don’t buy those philosophic arguments about power, status, human rights, etc… That’s part of life and being accountable. I always find it interesting when tenured academics write about the evils of performance reviews. In general, teachers and professors don’t like being evaluated or held accountable to begin with, so of course they can come up with all kinds of passionate arguments why no one else should.
Reading these truncated opinions, you might be inclined to make a jump and form one of your own. I encourage you to read the rest here: 10 Opinions on Performance Reviews. There's a lot of great content you're missing and a lot of Dan's thoughts make perfect sense to me with the full context.

I don't think we'll ever see the end of performance reviews, but wouldn't it be great if we could get rid of the ridiculous systems we've succumbed to and get back to leading our teams, with minimized documentation? What Dan lists in number 10:
10. At the end of the day, we’d be better off getting rid of the complicated forms and mandated practices, and just practice good day-to-day management and leadership. Under performance should still be documented, great performance should be recognized and rewarded, employees should get feedback, we should be held accountable, goals should be established, career and development plans should be discussed, and merit pay should be based on performance.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Management, Leadership, Teams"
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Date: Saturday, 22 May 2010 16:20
I receive the Method123 Free Project Newsletter and am always surprised at the great free tips they consistently provide. These aren't the regular cheesey, one-liner's that tease you to the site for more info - the full set of tips are in the email and are great for new project managers or PMs looking for better ways of doing things. You don't need to use Method123's tools to make their tips work, but you might want to take a look at their site to see what they have to offer and be sure to check out their templates, lifecycle, and the Free Project Management Tools section - great ebook, templates & articles.

A recent newsletter was on How to reduce project risk, and the included tips were excellent, as always:
Managing Risk - University of Melbourne

1. Start out on the right foot

Too many projects get started without a solid definition of what must delivered. So always start out by writing a detailed Project Charter. This document states the project vision, objectives, scope and deliverables. Only then, do you know what has to be achieved and by when.

2. Make your team accountable

Why should you shoulder all of the responsibility for the project? Instead, pass on responsibility to each member of your team. Tell them which elements of the Project Charter they are responsible for delivering and make them accountable by holding review meetings each week to measure progress.

3. Identify risks upfront

Then hold a workshop to identify likely risks to your project. A risk is an unforeseen event that might negatively impact on the project in the future. Examples of risks are: "that our suppliers might deliver late", "that we might run out of materials" or "that we can't find extra resources when we need them". You need to document every risk and determine its likelihood and impact on the project.

4. Plan risks wisely

With all of the risks known upfront, you're ready to create a Risk Plan. This document will identify actions that you can take now to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring. So for instance, if your risk was "that we might run out of materials" then strike a deal with a supplier that requires them to make additional materials available when you need them. Or find another supplier as a backup.

5. Monitor risks carefully

As the project progresses, run bi-weekly or monthly risk meetings to review the risks you've identified. Ask these questions: Are the risks likely to occur? Are there any new risks that you face? Have the actions in your Risk Plan been completed? Is your level of risk reducing? Only by monitoring your risks carefully, can you control the overall level of risk on the project.

Managing project risk is critical to keeping your project on track and ensuring it will come in on time and within budget constraints. No matter what templates/processes you choose to use, it's always a good idea to do a risk analysis before the project even begins and integrate this data into your Project Risk Plan that is updated and communicated to the project team/sponsors regularly throughout the project lifecycle.

Remember, project risk will never go away, but with proper planning and attention along the way - you'll be better able to tackle issues that come up and fight those inevitable fires along the way. Get on the bus!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Planning, Project Management"
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Date: Thursday, 22 Apr 2010 22:19
If you've been in business long enough you've probably heard the quote "People leave managers, not companies" - a pretty spot-on quote from First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently that most of today's managers don't want to hear, and many don't want to believe to be true... but it is.
Bad Mood Buttons!
Unfortunately in this economy, a lot of folks find it hard to leave a job - for any reason - even if their manager was the devil incarnate, and some folks are dang close, people are tied to their jobs more than ever. In this finicky economy and with the job market thinner than ever, people are too over worked to even think about looking for a new job. Should you have to change jobs just because your boss happens to be a shmuck? I say NO!

Another unfortunate fact is that I can't change the mindset of every manager out there, sorry. What I can do is point out some common things found in bad managers so that 1). You can learn to avoid doing them if you are a manager and 2). You can identify these behaviors earlier and learn to work with these "difficult" people, rather than be consumed by the monster.
Bad managers will always be a part of the business world, but if we can do a better job of calling them out and working with these folks on their bad behaviors, I believe we can make a positive change, if only taming one beast at a time - maybe even yourself, because we've all been guilty at times ;)

I came across an article based on reader comments that lists out common things found in typical bad bosses. Now, keep in mind no list is definitive and this one is based off of the authors own reader's comments, but if you consider the content you will probably find a lot of the behaviors and habits you might expect to see in a bad mnager - and perhaps a few you hadn't thought of. Take a look below and see if you're guilty of any of these:

•Fail to communicate, and may not even have, expectations, timelines or goals. Bad bosses change their minds frequently leaving employees off-balance. Bad bosses change expectations and deadlines frequently.
•Will not accept constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement. The bad boss can't deal with disagreement from employees who have their own opinions about work related issues.
•Lacks integrity, breaks promises, and is dishonest.
•Does not have the courage to deal with a difficult situation despite knowing that it is the right thing to do.
•Causes dissention among staff members by his or her actions and comments.

Ahh.. How many of you have worked for someone guilty of one or more of these? And how many of you managers can say you haven't offended? Are you decisive and consistent or do you change your mind and seem to "manage by whim"? You might think you have integrity, but what would your peers and employees have to say about that - Do you have their trust?

I read a great quote that ties in here "A bad manager can take a good staff and destroy it, causing the best employees to flee and the remainder to lose all motivation." If you think you might be a bad manager - Fix it! If you're working for one, I would suggest rallying with your peers and trying to work at the problem from within. It is true that "People leave managers, not companies", but as the song says "Right Here, Right Now", it's not really an option for most folks.

Read the rest of the 12 bullets here: What Makes a Bad Boss - Bad?

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Management, Professional Development, Pr..."
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Date: Friday, 16 Apr 2010 20:03
I just read an insightful post discussing project failure by Anothony Mersino Why We Are Afraid to Tell the Truth about Project Failures. There has been a lot written about the importance of "failing forward", and we all know that a project plan is an organic document - a road map, really - so no matter how carefully you execute that carefully detailed plan, mistakes are bound to happen along the way. So why is that the project management culture is so ingrained to bury their mistakes?

Anthony provides some great information culled from Standish and their well recognized Chaos Studies to show that a lot of this lack of truth telling is based in fear and denial - for many reasons. He also references a LinkedIn discussion which includes many diverse opinions on this topic.

Here are the five lessons he provides for project managers to help you bring the truth to light:

1.The truth always comes out and so it is best for you to share it. You will be more favorably regarded by telling the truth rather than denying problems or reaching out for help. It may take a while, but the truth eventually comes out.

2.Reach out for help when you need it. Asking for help is not only responsible, it is also good and appropriate communications and expectations management. Besides, you stand a much better chance of heading off major problems before they grow if you are willing to admit you need help and seek it.

3.When hiring project managers, watch out for those with a spotless record. Be suspicious of those who say 'on time on budget' as if it were a mantra or a secret pass phrase. Ask people about their failures and see what they are willing to share.

4.Harvest every project for the lessons to be learned. A project post-mortem should be conducted for every project, especially those projects that are canceled mid-stream. Also, PMs should maintain a journal of every success, failure, and lesson learned through the execution of the project. Ideally this is something that is done using a few minutes each day or once a week.

5.Expect failure as a requirement for success. If you and the people around you are not failing with regularity, you are not trying hard enough or taking enough risks.

We all learn from our mistakes and by openly admitting them and dealing with the issue in the light we all have a chance for positive growth - to fail forward - and to show your team that you have integrity, that you can be trusted and you won't bury critical issues, thus actually earning their respect in the end.

Read the rest here: Why We Are Afraid to Tell the Truth about Project Failures
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Leadership, Failing Forward, Project Man..."
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010 22:24
I was browsing Scott Berkun's site and came across an interesting post from the summer of 2005 on How to learn from your mistakes. It's an essay, really, and takes a look at how the act of making a mistake is actually an opportunity for growth. If you are one to always play it safe and never takes a risk you might not be challenging yourself for fear of failing or some other reason holding you back. As you'll read in Berkun's essay, there are times to take chances - and not, and we've all made bone-headed decisions, but it's important to learn how to handle the types of mistakes you make and most of all, learn and grow from them so you don't keep repeating the same mistake over and over.

Here's the intro to entice you into reading the rest:

You can only learn from a mistake after you admit you’ve made it. As soon as you start blaming other people (or the universe itself) you distance yourself from any possible lesson. But if you courageously stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible” the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they do.

This advice runs counter to the cultural assumptions we have about mistakes and failure, namely that they are shameful things. We’re taught in school, in our families, or at work to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes. This sense of shame combined with the inevitability of setbacks when attempting difficult things explains why many people give up on their goals: they’re not prepared for the mistakes and failures they’ll face on their way to what they want. What’s missing in many people’s beliefs about success is the fact that the more challenging the goal, the more frequent and difficult setbacks will be. The larger your ambitions, the more dependent you will be on your ability to overcome and learn from your mistakes.

Read the full essay here http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/44-how-to-learn-from-your-mistakes/ and learn about the three things "learning from mistakes requires" and the four kinds of mistakes. Good stuff and definitely worth the read - enjoy

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Personal Growth, Failing Forward, Profes..."
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Jan 2010 17:37
I haven't been able to give to blog much lately - yes, posts have been lacking and I apologize. I did manage to write an article for David Zinger's wonderful Employee Engagement Network's latest project. I just heard that the e-book is on track to be released by this summer and am excited to participate in my second collaborative effort with the EEN. This will be the fifth e-book published by the EEN and it was fun to tie project management into employee engagement - my article is titled "10 Tips For Engaging A Project Team".

Once the e-book is released I will post a link to it and possibly seek to publish my article online elsewhere. If not, I will post it here. Either way - I will make sure the content is available.

Some of the other folks participating in the new book from the EEN are: Wayne Turmel, Steve Roesler, Wally Bock and more. Be sure to check it out when it's released!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Ravens Brain, Project Management, Articl..."
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Date: Thursday, 14 May 2009 18:33
We've been hearing/reading more and more about how multi-tasking actually reduces productivity. This is counter intuitive to what we've been told in the past as project managers, or general managers in business for that matter - the more you can get done, the more you can juggle at any given time, the better equipped you are to handle the job, right? Mmm.. wrong! At least according to a host of research (read here, here, and here for starters).

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying PMs shouldn't be able to walk and talk at the same time or do more than two things at once. I just think at some point we as a general society became intensely focused on doing SO much that we are no longer paying attention to the details and things are falling through the cracks in this multi-tasking focused society.

Check out the 2.09 minute video below from http://www.brainrules.net/. It's a humorous look at how too many tasks can overwork your brain into an unproductive state. Ok, so let's hope you're not as bad as the guy in the video, but it IS supposed to be funny!

Did you learn anything, dog? anyone going to buy the Dander500?

From an article titled "The Myth of Multitasking":
In one of the many letters he wrote to his son in the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield offered the following advice: “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” To Chesterfield, singular focus was not merely a practical way to structure one’s time; it was a mark of intelligence. “This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”

I do hurry, hustle and bustle - agitation is something I try very hard to avoid these days (thank ye maturity!) though if I'm in my vehicle... I'm still working on finding my patience

As always - Enjoy!

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Personal Growth, Communication Essential..."
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Date: Tuesday, 12 May 2009 16:02
As project managers we're all looking for ways to help increase efficiency on our next project. I'm constantly clicking links - looking for that special tiSuperwoman in business saves the day!p or trick that will will save me or my team time by shaving off minutes here or there, sreamlining that process, or perhaps helping the team communicate better..

I just finished an article by Elizabeth Bennett over at Baseline with eight great tips in one spot: 8 Ways To Save Your Next Project.

This piece is focused on tech projects and their trend of being delivered late and over budget. Bennett actually cites "49 percent of organizations have suffered from budget overruns on IT projects and 62 percent have experienced schedule delays". Sad numbers - and another interesting quote reads"47 percent of respondents have experienced higher-than-expected maintenance costs and 41 percent said IT projects failed to deliver the expected business value and ROI."

What does that say about IT projects? Well, if you read the next line in the article, you'll find they don't have a very high success rate:

"In short, IT projects are a chronic disappointment."

Fear not PMs! Bennett put together a helpful article with a few other industry experts, and that means you'll find eight solid ways to save your next IT project. Realistic tips, sound advice and a good start on keeping yout IT projects on track.

Note that items below are truncated. Go to the article for complete detail! Emphasis mine
1. Get your head out of the software
Most project managers spend too much time in their project-planning applications and not enough time doing the briefing and communicating for which they are solely responsible. You should be spending the bulk of your time talking to and corresponding with project constituents – your team, the stakeholders, vendors, consultants and key end-users. The "soft" skill of communication is integral to project success.

2. Plan and define as much as possible—but don't go overboard
A key component of project management is the thorough and meticulous planning of every aspect of a project, but a perfectionist could spend all his or her time in the planning stage. There's no way to anticipate every variable so at some point, you have to pull the trigger...

3. Manage scope creep—for real
Like a turkey on Thanksgiving, you can rely on the fact that the project you think you're heading for may bare only a passing resemblance to the one you end up with. With the increasing complexity of data centers and the Pandora's box of surprises once you get under the hood, it's advisable to game out and document the potential sources of scope creep...

4. Don't be lazy with risk management
If you need 200 servers delivered at the same time for a worldwide mail server upgrade, it's not enough to know what the risk is if the vendor doesn't deliver. It's time to manage the risk by deciding ahead of time that, as reliable as your vendor has been in the past, there's little margin for error...

5. Get a grip on expectations
Ask vendors and consultants for the best, most likely and worst-case scenarios and then use your own resources to calculate the aggregated risk so you can determine the probable outcome.

6. Govern with strength
Even with all the good work you did up front, problems and roadblocks will surely arise. Don't blow it when it comes to actually addressing the problems. To the degree you can, refer to the approaches you documented and discussed with your team. If planned properly, your team should be able to tackle the problems early on before they become major hindrances.

7. Prepare for intervention
If your approaches are better in theory than in practice, it might be time to intervene with the project plan. Create an intervention plan before the project starts and communicate the plan to everyone directly and indirectly involved. The plan may include steps to take when adding resources, for assessing project-management and even changing the project leader.

8. Drive behavior to use the technology
Whatever you do, don't rest on your laurels when the technical aspects of the project are completed. Creating a plan to ensure that people actually use the technology you just spent 18 months implementing will serve you well. If you and your organization want to see your expected return on investment, make sure you have a hand in educating and training users.
Read more here: http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Projects-Enterprise-Planning/8-Ways-To-Save-Your-Next-Project/

As far as tips for working on projects in the real world, these are some pretty good ones. Yes yes, you can always add more - please do in the comments section. I love hearing from you!

image courtesy: www.secretsofsuccess.com
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Software and Web Development, Technology..."
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Date: Friday, 08 May 2009 15:17
I read an interesting article from Michelle LaBrosse over at ComputerWorld titled Get ready, get set, go! Getting to the project finish line. It's a good piece outlinGet to the finish line!ing what you need to do to be prepared for the last stretch of your project. Here's the intro:

Every race to the finish line begins with similar instructions: “Get ready, get set, go!” Every race, that is, except the race to the deadline assigned at work. In business, the starting gun is sometimes shot without any heads up ("get ready" or any project planning ("get set"). People seem to run with it, but not successfully.
But if you take just an hour out of your schedule to "get ready" and "set," you'll get to the finish line faster and without stumbling. Before starting a project, you must first gather all of the information so you can assess what needs to take place.
LaBrosse even includes a nice timeline broken into a one-hour chunk that you can follow to help keep you on track during this planning process:

An hour of your time
30 minutes — Identify deliverables and acceptance criteria
10 minutes — identify processes
10 minutes — identify conflicts
10 minutes — tree diagram
20 minutes — milestone reviews
Read more here: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=Project+Management&articleId=9131617&taxonomyId=73&pageNumber=2

I liked this article because it talks about an often neglected area of project management - the end game. We focus on planning, kicking off the project and post mortems - how often we forget that final stretch of making it to the finish line. Get more prepared - check out the article!
If you liked what you read, you should check our Michelle's blog: http://www.everydaypm.com/ or follow her on twitter @michellecheetah.

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (Raven Young)" Tags: "Planning, Project Management"
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