19 October 2021

Selection Methods for Hiring Talent and Top tips!




Knowing what works best for your company and how to bring on the right talent is essential to gaining your competitive edge and staying ahead of the curve.

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1 March 2017

Time – A Most Valuable Resource But Always Fleeting




As project managers, we all know that there is never enough time – but are we right? Is it conceivable that there is usually enough time, but we just don’t manage it well?

 

“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

We also know that feeling – “I didn’t see the time going”, “I didn’t realise it had got so late”, and “I have so many things to finish before close of business”. At the same time, we all know effective people who get through their work within the normal working day, and still manage to lead a hectic social life as well.

It is time to take control of your own time.

To quote Drucker again: “Know where your time goes”.

Do you know where your time goes?

Do you even know what your time today was spent on?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you should! You owe it to yourself, and as a project manager you owe it to your profession.

 

clock

Exercise:

For the next 5 working days, keep a record of how you spend your time in 15 minute blocks, throughout your day. Keep it in your phone, or on your laptop, or in a notebook. At the end of the 5 days (and not until the 5 days have elapsed!), analyse your time under the following categories:

  1. Very productive
  2. Marginally productive
  3. Barely worth doing
  4. Waste of time

Having done this, if you find yourself mainly scoring 3s or 4s, then you have a time management issue. If this is so, continue this recording of your time into the future until you have sorted out the problem. If you apply yourself to this exercise, the problem will sort itself.

Do this privately. Don’t let anyone else see the results. That way you can be totally honest with yourself. It is only for your own benefit.

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill

As a result of applying this you will:

  • be far more productive
  • be a much more effective Project Manager
  • feel more in control of your life
  • have a better work/life balance
  • be less stressed, less worried
  • be better company socially
  • be a nicer person
  • be more likely to improve your promotion prospects

 

“Heck, by the time a man scratches his behind, clears his throat, and tells me how smart he is, we’ve already wasted fifteen minutes.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

 

Article by Peter F. Drucker

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?? 

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.

30 August 2016

Managing change in the workplace positively




change management

Managing change in the workplace positively

 

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.

11 July 2016

“Gone”: New Project Management Mobile App is Launched




Mediasans has launched an innovative iPhone app, “Gone.”

The new tool revolutionizes the way that creatives manage their project workflow on the go, and is available for free download from the iTunes store.

Los Angeles-based creative studio Mediasans has shared details of its freshly launched project management (PM) app, “Gone.” The free-to-download tool is a dedicated PM app for the unique demands and agile working environments of creatives, freelancers, consultants and small teams.

A key differentiating feature of “Gone” is that it was created and built specifically for mobile devices, thus avoiding the glitches that come from adapting and condensing a tool from a web experience to a mobile platform.

The mobile nature of the app gives creative and freelance users access to dynamic to-do lists, task sheets and project milestones to enhance their efficiency and simplify the successful execution of their day-to-day project duties.

“Gone” aims to fill the void in the market, by appealing directly to the needs of mobile users. This is in contrast to other PM tools (such as Jira, Asana and Trello), which focus primarily on the web or desktop user. “Gone” allows mobile users the flexibility to create their own working experiences; such as, creating singular projects for micro-tasks, or projects for multiple tasks according to specific subjects.

Will Taylor, founder and creator of “Gone,” gave the following statement to the press regarding the launch:

“We built Gone to be your personal pocket assistant; helping you to manage, track, collaborate and delegate tasks with your team or colleagues, from wherever you are in the world.”

He continued, “Many of us struggle to find time to sit at a desktop computer – so, it makes sense to use our mobile devices to manage our projects and prioritize our time each day. ‘Gone’ can help you do that in ways which you never thought a little app could!”

Regarding breakthrough features, “Gone” has wide functionality for optimum UX, enabling users to add content; mark tasks as being completed or in progress; assign priority to specific tasks with the ‘spotlight’ feature; and, assign tasks to team members.

By going beyond the capabilities of many other leading PM tools, “Gone” allows for the creation of special categories within each project. This notable feature is geared towards the power user who wants to closely manage the workflow of a project and input customizable settings. Furthermore, there are no limits to the number of projects that can be created.

“Gone” distinguishes itself further from other PM tools with its strong value-proposition. It is a completely free out-of-the-box comprehensive tool, built solely for a mobile experience. It has been designed to offer peak performance while retaining an interface that is intuitive, user-friendly and familiar.

Crucially, for high-volume users who wish to integrate “Gone” with cloud-based storage, there is no additional cost to add features for Dropbox and Google Drive compatibility.

Mediasans invites you to learn more about “Gone” by visiting their site and reading the case study.

You can get “Gone” at: http://www.getgone.io/.

11 July 2016

Eric Brechner, Agile Project Management with Kanban




Agile Project Management with Kaban

There’s a way to organize your work, stay focused, avoid mistakes, and be hyper-productive that you can learn in five minutes using sticky notes and markers. It’s been used by Toyota to make cars, by Xbox to build software, and by individuals to maintain sanity. It’s called Kanban, and Eric Brechner, an Xbox development manager, has been using it with multiple teams for the past four years.

Let us know what you think of this technique by joining the conversation on our LinkedIn page, or let us know on Twitter.

 

5 July 2016

Politics and Project Management. It’s only a game, right?




politics of project management

I guess the answer to that depends on whether you see the game through the prism of the agitator or the agitated.

Are there ways to win the game of politics and if so what are they? You can play fair. Will you win? To be honest I don’t like your odds. You can play dirty. Will you win? You might. Will you feel good about yourself afterwards? I suppose it depends how many times you have been to war. “God hardens the heart of several kings to they would make war” (Joshua 11:20)

 

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.” (Sun Tzu’s The Art of War).

 

Ok, so politics isn’t war or it shouldn’t have to be. War is exhausting not to mention destructive. Politics is not really a game either but it is something that we, as project managers, need to be aware of and manage.

Before we think about winning the game of politics I’d like to bring your attention to Eight Leadership Lessons From Bad Politicians (Thom S. Rainer). Using Thom’s words “Let’s be fair. Many politicians are good and strong leaders. They have a high ethical standard… but some politicians are bad. They put self first. They seek power first.” Thom asks: “can we learn anything from bad politicians?” Before you answer can I re-phrase Thom’s question slightly and ask can we, as project managers, learn anything from bad politicians? Forget, for a moment, about winning games? Can we learn anything to help us deliver success for our organisations and value for our customers? Really isn’t that the name of the game?

 

Let’s look at the eight lessons we can learn from bad politicians according to Thom S. Rainer:

  1. Tell the truth. True leaders tell the truth. No matter what. No matter the cost.
  2. Don’t deflect responsibility. Great leaders take responsibility for that which they can lead.
  3. Don’t lead by placing blame. Great leaders are more concerned about what they can do well than what someone else does poorly.
  4. Communicate clearly. They make certain that the truth is communicated in such a way that others understand it clearly.
  5. Be aware of the lure of power. Great leaders are servants. Their motive is first to serve others.
  6. Be willing to sacrifice yourself. Leaders who make a difference will put their careers… before the good of those they serve.
  7. Lead by conviction, not by popularity. Great leaders will do what they sense is right rather than trying to win… popularity.
  8. Don’t sacrifice the needs of the future for the convenience of the present. Great leaders will make courageous decisions today, even if they aren’t popular decisions.

Now “here’s your moment of Zen” (Jon Stewart). Do these traits remind you of people you work with or should work with? If these are the traits of the good politician then if you are like me you work with or have worked with this good politician’s evil (doppelganger) twin.

So how can you defeat the evil twin and win the war between good versus evil? For starters you have to recognise you are in a game of sorts and you need to learn how to play it.

Mindful of traits of individuals who practice bad politics (the opposite of those outlined above) you need to work within the system and play (the game) by the rules. Check out Corporate Politics for Project Managers 101 (Dale Myers’ blog) because I’m about to use his recommendations for beating that evil twin:

  • Learn the political landscape of your organisation.
  • Actively manage your reputation.
  • Keep your options open / don’t take sides.
  • Don’t badmouth others.
  • Focus on your circle of influence.
  • Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
  • Remember it’s not personal.
  • Think and look for “win-win” solutions.
  • Consult your core values.
  • Expect betrayal.

Dale calls corporate politics an “ugly game”. He’s right but it’s a game nonetheless that we, as project managers, have to play. It is just a question of how we play it.

Great people have great values and great ethics.” (Jeffrey Gitomer)

 

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