Posted by: kerrywills | August 19, 2016

The Summer Olympics Decathalon

I love watching the Summer Olympics – the athletes are amazing and the competition is fantastic. There are many athletes who excel in one sport but the decathlon is the ultimate event in which athletes need to excel in ten different sports. One projects there are also one-sport athletes such as Business Analysts, Architects and Testers who specialize in their areas. Project Managers are more like Decathlon athletes who need to excel in many areas. The PM Decathlon would consist of these 10 events…..

  1. Project Planning and Scheduling – the ability to aggregate all of the work and plan it out properly with dependencies and constraints
  2. Financial Management – the tracking and reporting of budget, actual costs, and variances and managing resources and cost drivers to stay within budget
  3. Facilitation – Negotiating conflicts, running meetings and ensuring that decsions get made
  4. Executive Presenting – making presentations which convey the right messages and influence/inform stakeholders
  5. Risk and Issue Management – identifying the managing anything risking the ability to deliver on project commitments
  6. Analysis – The ability to analyze risks, issues, decisions, plans and present information for decisions to be made
  7. Scope – Understanding the scope of the project and how it will be delivered
  8. Solution – Understanding the solution being delivered on the project
  9. Leadership – The ability to influence, motivate and negotiate across the many resources and stakeholders
  10. Communication – Communicating project information to various stakeholders using terms and context they understan


Project Managers must be able to perform in all events of the Decathlon and be proficient at all of them. They can not be an athlete who only focuses on a few of the areas or else the project falls apart. For example, not being able to plan or manage issues will mean failure for the project. Similarly, not knowing the scope or solution will not make the Pm effective at articulating progress or risks.

So, like the Decathlon athletes, we need to train all of our skills and be able to compete in all events if we want to be successful.

Posted by: kerrywills | August 12, 2016

Following the Rules

A few weeks ago I was vacationing in Myrtle Beach with my family. We got to the hotel around noon and were informed that check in was at 3:30. I have traveled a lot and usually the hotels check to see if a room is ready if you arrive early and let you go in early but not this one. They did not even look but rather told us to wait until 3:30. So we wound up waiting in the lobby with our luggage for two hours. Even at 3:25 they would not entertain me.

Since I had the time to contemplate, I was thinking about the use of rules like this. Rules are important and set boundaries and expectations for people but I am a big fan of the  “spirit” of the law as opposed to the “letter” of the law. I know that approach leaves things open to interpretation, but in this example, eve88u  n though check in is at 3:30 if there was a room available then that would have been exceptional customer service.


In our own jobs we should understand the rules but then look to see how we can interpret them best to meet (or even exceed) the needs of our customers. A few possible instances include…

  • Support organizations focusing on gathering information from existing sources instead of pushing out different forms and mandating them
  • If a meeting agenda is determined but a more important conversation arises, changing the topic as appropriate
  • Extending deadlines where a better quality outcome can arise from a small delay

So the point is to be flexible and focus on the outcomes and quality and not always the “rules.” Ummm I think I just defined another rule with that sentence….well there goes the credibility of this argument.

Posted by: kerrywills | August 5, 2016

Literary Styles

Summer time means summer reading for my children, who are both in Middle School. I was helping my daughter with her book report which was looking for insights on the author’s writing style. This got me thinking of the way that people “narrate” their views in meetings and in their interactions with other people. There are a few types of styles….

  • First Person  – Uses “I” in their interactions. “My plan says XYZ” or “I own ABC.”
  • Second Person – Uses “You” to explain their views. “You gave me the direction to do this” or “Your plan said..”
  • Third Person – Uses “he” or “she”. “He said to do ABC”


The problem with first person is that it makes everything about the person speaking and they do not come across as a team player. Second and Third person seem to push the accountability to someone else. Therefore, I propose using “We” in interactions for many reasons…

  • It suggests being on the same team
  • It suggests accountability
  • It does not alienate someone

So please think about this in your narrations…or your story may not end the way you were hoping it would.


Posted by: kerrywills | July 29, 2016

Bringing transparency

As Program Managers and Project Managers we are held accountable for the delivery of our programs but we don’t always have the authority to make decisions. Usually there are senior leaders or sponsors who make decisions on scope, timelines or cost. So that means we can do our jobs well and still fail because of decisions that are out of our control. That is why the principle of “transparency” is so important to success. Note this is principle number three in my book on Guiding Principles.


Transparency means providing insights into information that allows these leaders to get a sense of risks, open decisions and implications so that proper action can be taken. This could be financial reporting, schedule reporting, risks and issues. While we may not be the ones making decisions it is absolutely our accountability to make sure that the sponsors and leaders have the best information available that they need to make the best decisions possible.


Posted by: kerrywills | July 22, 2016

Pokemon Go

Well with the craze of this new game I just had to make a posting here. I do admit that I have been playing the game with my kids and nothing says family bonding like walking around a cemetery trying load up on “Pokeballs.” In this game, there are Pokemon everywhere and you need to capture and secure them. Relating this to our work we can think of Pokemon as risks, issues and actions that pop up all around the program and it is our responsibility to gather them all up and inventory them.

Better contain that issue...

Better contain that issue…

If we do not contain these risks, issues and actions there are consequences which could mean lost time, missed commitments, additional cost or impacts to quality. So it is in our best interest to perfect our approach of looking for them, identifying them and capturing them so that they do not cause us more problems. Oh, and make sure to look up so you dont walk into the street or fall off of a cliff!

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