17 October 2016

Why is a failing project like boiling a frog?

If a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is put in cold water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

Similarly, projects don’t go wrong overnight, but gradually and under the radar, until they are cooked to death.

The lesson here? You need to check your frogs….

two frogs

Watch out for the tell-tale signs:

  • Late working – one or two days is okay, but if sustained…
  • Re-planning – “every project is on time according to the last plan written”
  • Re-Scoping – features being removed – especially easy to hide in an Agile project
  • “It will do” mentality – perhaps accepting poor performance of some code rather than fixing it
  • “We will catch up” mentality – denial can waste valuable recovery time, don’t leave it too late to review and call for help
  • Surprises – we identify technical risks and deal with them up front or in a Proof of Concept project

Two or more of the above and your frog is cooked!

Each of the below should be considered as turning up the heat on your frog!

  • Increasing management involvement – can be overdone
  • Preoccupation with bug counts and burn down charts – Not all bugs are created equal
  • Requesting additional staff – pulling from other projects – Natural team size for work, adding cooks can actually slow things down…
  • Stakeholders missing meetings – lack of engagement/interest
  • “Don’t bring me bad news” culture
  • Presence of a “Project Monitor” rather than a “Project Manager

Two or more of the above and your frog is cooked!

Now – have a look around you – are there any frogs slowly cooking?? 

12 October 2016

Budget 2017 – an overview from The Project Foundry and Noone Casey

3 October 2016

Leading a Self-Organising Team

Mike Cohn on Team Leadership

At the Norwegian Developers Conference 2012 Mike Cohn presented another great talk, this time on how to lead a self-organising team. Important viewing for all project managers and team leaders!

28 September 2016

Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management

A talk on Agile by Mike Cohn

At the Better Software Conference in June 2008 Mike Cohn presented this talk on Agile entitled ‘Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Managing‘. It’s a great talk and still absolutely relevant, exposing the ‘sins’ that we are all guilty of often.

28 September 2016

Innovation in RegTech – Christopher Woolard speaks at London Fintech Week 2016

In this video Christopher Woolward, Board Member and Director of Strategy and Competition and the Financial Conduct Authority speaks at London Fintech Week 2016 on the subject of innovation in RegTech.


30 August 2016

Managing change in the workplace positively

change management

Bill Howat at the Globe and Mail has come up with this great mnemonic checklist to keep in mind during the process of change management:

C – Can’t continue the way things are. Something has occurred that has influenced leaders to make some type of change. The root cause is driven by a defined risk or opportunity that creates the motivation to take action. This defines what needs to change and why. The vision, benefits and urgency have been established.

H – How much change will be needed, by when, and how long the change will take from start to finish. The facts shaping the change are to be verified, along with the exact degree of change, how success will be defined and measured, the timeline and speed the change will need to happen. The expected outcomes need to be stress tested to ensure they are realistic. The purpose of this step is to remove assumptions and guessing and to create the conditions for how the change will be properly monitored and measured. This step frames the change and the desired outcomes.

A – Answering how the proposed change may impact employees, leadership, customers and, when necessary, shareholders is a best practice before making a final plan. Factors such as human capital, labour agreements, key stakeholders, policies, procedures, environment, resources, equipment and sensitivity are a few examples of the factors to be considered in the planning process. The degree of change (for example, minor, medium, major), as well as what industry and sector will shape what factors to consider. This is a diligence step to assess risk and factors that need to be considered before making a plan. This step anticipates the what-ifs.

N – New direction and a final game plan for how change will be done need to be defined. Every plan needs to consider specific needs such as communications strategy, training needs, staffing, resources, and measurements to lead the change. Once the plan is finalized and the launch date is defined, the next step is to initiate the change. The plan is to have a clear beginning, middle and end. The final game plan is written and the leaders who are accountable and responsible are clearly defined in the plan.

G – Go time is when the plan becomes live with the workforce and other key stakeholders. This is the implementation stage where the change initiatives go from a plan to reality. It’s common that once a plan goes live to get some degree of resistance. Not all employees will respond the same to minor, medium and major changes. This step is when the work begins to move a change plan from an idea to reality. There may be additional issues that need to be dealt with that were not planned for. Seldom is a change plan perfect, so there may be a need for some adaptation if feasible. This step requires attention to detail, monitoring and follow-through.

E – Evaluating the success of the change from its beginning, middle to end is an important step to ensure the change gets done as planned. It can provide important lessons as to how to best facilitate change in the culture. There will be a next time, and the more leaders learn, the better they will be at successfully leading change.

If you enjoyed that you should read his full column here, it’s part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series.


30 August 2016

10 Change Management Strategies Backed By Science

In this Forbes blogpost and video speech, Carol Kinsey Goman talks about 10 change management strategies backed by scientific evidence. Number one? Continually talk about change so that when it happens, it’s not a shock to the employee system.


Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

24 August 2016

Risk Management – Always bet on black

Risk management - always bet on black

It’s Vegas Baby!

In this article I’ll pose the question whether the problem is that people (or executives or both) don’t know what risk is or choose to ignore it. We will see what the implications of either and/or both are.

The streets at Edwards Air Force Base, where the majority of both the Air Force and NASA aeronautical flight testing and research takes place, are not named for generals. They’re named for pilots killed on test flights. It’s a reminder to all who work there that the junction between technology and nature can be a dangerous place.
(Lane Wallace, Why We’re So Bad at Managing Risk, 2010).

The streets at Edwards Air Force Base, where the majority of both the Air Force and NASA aeronautical flight testing and research takes place, are not named for generals. They’re named for pilots killed on test flights. It’s a reminder to all who work there that the junction between technology and nature can be a dangerous place.
(Lane Wallace, Why We’re So Bad at Managing Risk, 2010).

In the same article Lane goes on to talk about the catastrophic oil spill in the gulf. She points out that BP is not new to offshore operations or the risks inherent in drilling into the earth. Lane asks the question “how did the company misjudge the dangers, risk and consequences of an accident so badly?” Herein lies the crux of it. Financial return will trump any and every other concern.

Leaving the stark reality of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Challenger space shuttle accident and the emotive discussion on where the blame lies. Let’s have a conversation about the industry we all work in, an industry where technology and people co-exist and collaborate for commercial reasons.

Substituting risk management failures for NASA and BP disasters I want to know how we keep getting it so wrong… so often? My assertion is that Lane Wallace thinks the easy answer is, there’s a financial incentive for going forward, and a financial disincentive for holding back. Is that it? Does it all come down to money at the end of the day, no matter what the consequences? Or is it more nuanced?

Richard Leblanc wrote an article 25 Reasons for Risk Management Failure (2015). Having spoken to directors and officers about risk management he presented 25 reasons for risk management failure. The link to Richard’s article will be included at the end of this post. For now I want to include a subset from Richard’s list to see do they all, some or any of them resonate with you:

  1. Lack of enterprise risk management expertise on the board.
  2. Governance gaps over a material risk(s) within the board or across committees.
  3. Directors incapable of identifying and fully understanding the risks, or worse yet, don’t want to understand. Committees show no interest when they should be shocked.
  4. Internal oversight functions reporting to management instead of the board. A complacent board does not correct.
  5. Directors do not insist on a real-time line of sight over material risks and their mitigation/treatment.

I like that Richard lets the voice of those he interviewed do the talking for him instead of sermonising. Richard does conclude (in his introduction) that “based on my experience assisting boards, including boards that have failed and boards that cannot afford to fail… I have never encountered a risk management failure where the board was not at fault, based on what the board said or did, or failed to say or do.”

Lane Wallace points out that “risk is an elusive, and ultimately unconquerable, opponent.” That said Lane advises to “expect the unexpected. And plan accordingly.” Expect the unexpected. And plan accordingly. We don’t. Why? Richard Leblanc presents the reasons. “I have never encountered a risk management failure where the board was not at fault, based on what the board said or did, or failed to say or do.” The three wise monkeys strain of the C-ostrich, Do-ostrich disease has reached epidemic proportions. Is it, like risk, an ultimately unconquerable opponent?

I’ll leave you with this question? When is the next Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the Challenger space shuttle accident going to happen? Place your chips. Roll the dice. It’s Vegas baby!

Please read Richard’s article (http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/25-reasons-for-risk-management-failure/) to see the full list. It’s insightful and frighteningly familiar.

For an even more frightening example of risk management failing please read Lane’s article: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/06/why-were-so-bad-at-managing-risk/57522/

10 August 2016

Things you need to know about regtech

Over at Lexology.com I came across a good article by King & Wood Mallesons on the 10 things you need to know about regtech and the way it can transform compliance and client relationships. As well as breaking down regtech into these ten points they have provided downloadable BriefSheet in PDF.

So what should we know?

1. Regulatory technology or “regtech” is…

Technology that helps people comply with their regulatory obligations or facilitates regulators to execute their mandates. Regtech encompasses a range of technologies utilising algorithms, data analytics and machine learning, with an endless range of applications.

2. Regulation is costly to comply with — and to supervise.

Compliance costs have increased significantly in recent years. In 2013 one bank hired 4,000 additional compliance staff and in 2014 another bank spent an extra €1.3bn on compliance. Regulators are stretched to monitor compliance, with more regulation to supervise and more data to interpret and understand. Well-designed regtech can ease these burdens.

3. Regtech tools can detect reportable matters, predict problems…

Regtech enables the analysis of large volumes of data to extend to both real-time surveillance and the predictive detection of suspicious matters or significant breaches of financial services laws.

4. …and self-adjust over time.

Machine learning can help compliance algorithms become more powerful over time so that instead of relying on pre-programmed indicators of non-compliant behaviour, the algorithm uses statistical analysis to self-adjust, picking out the truest predictors of risk (rather than the most obvious ones). For example, the algorithm could find that loan repayments made by a third party are a truer indicator of money laundering than repayments of unusually high amounts.

Read the full article here.

27 July 2016

Project Management Quality – Where do you see it?

Serra Pelada (English: “Bald Mountain”) was a large gold mine in Brazil 270 miles south of the mouth of the Amazon River. The mine was made famous by the images taken by Sebastião Salgado showing an anthill of workers moving vast amounts of ore by hand. Because of the chaotic nature of the operation estimating the number of miners was difficult, but at least 100,000 people were thought to be present, making it one of the largest mines in the world. “I could hear the gold whispering in the souls of these men,” said Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.


project management 
When you look at this photograph what do you see? Do you see men buried in mud while they dig for gold? In the context of project management what do you see? Let me be more precise. In the context of quality what do you see? Look at the photograph again? Think in the abstract. Where do you see quality? Is it the gold or is it the people?

At The Project Foundry we don’t invest in gold. We invest in people.
Call us on +353 1 445 2218 or contact us here to find out what we can do for you.


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