Posted by: kerrywills | February 17, 2017

Getting the “root” cause

Recently I have having tooth pain. I went to see the dentist and it has turned into quite an ordeal. This was underneath a double crown (on two teeth) which I have had for twenty years. Here are the visits I have had to investigate and solve the problem..

  1. Visit to check out the tooth. Initial thought is that it was infected and so they cleaned it well and had me come back later
  2. Checked out tooth and by now the pain had reduced but suggested I see a specialist anyway (endodontist)
  3. Endodontist visit did a 3D x-ray (which was really cool) and noticed some irritation but hard to tell. We agreed that since this crown had been on for twenty years and it was hard to clean between the teeth that I should remove it
  4. Dentist visit to remove double crown. It looked like it had decay and we suspected it would need a root canal. Put on a temporary crown
  5. Visit to endodontist who confirmed I needed a root canal (but could not do it that day)
  6. Temporary crown came off during a 1 on 1 meeting with an employee (that is always fun) so went to dentist to put it back on
  7. Endodontist visit for root canal – took 90 minutes and didn’t finish because it required manual filing due to the tooth being curved
  8. Temorary crown came off again
  9. Final root canal visit
  10. Put on permanent crowns


Needless to say, this has been quite the ordeal with 9 visits to investigate and solve the problem. So I suppose the lesson in all of this is to identify the “root” cause (see what I did there?) and then seek to resolve them as quickly as possible so they do not fester.

Posted by: kerrywills | February 10, 2017

Positive attitude

Since I live in New England, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Super Bowl this last weekend. The Patriots were down by 25 points and no team had ever come back from more than 10 points down. Most mortals would have given up and not continued to play to their fullest potential. I coach my son’s basketball team and I see this during games when they are losing by 10 or 15 points they all just stop playing hard. Instead the Patriots stepped up their game (offensively and defensively and staged the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history).


This is something that we can all be inspired by. On projects or at work, when situations seem difficult and morale is low is the time that we need to inspire our teams the most and maintain a positive attitude. We may not have the Super Bowl rings or supermodel wife, but we can be like Tom Brady and lead our teams to victory. Just don’t “deflate” their morale.

Posted by: kerrywills | February 3, 2017

What makes a successful project manager?

The question of “what makes a successful project manager” is asked often. My thinking is that because of the current complexity of product, technology solutions and organizations it is essential for a project manager not just to have the fundamental skills but also to have “consultative” skills. These include facilitation, negotiation, influencing, motivating and communications. I have been working on a n evolved project management competency model for a few years and am planning to document it fully in the next book I just started writing.


In order to gather information I created a survey for practitioners to take to understand their views on complexity and competencies. If you are reading this and have not yet taken it, please do so here as I am trying to get several hundred responses. The early findings do support the hypothesis. One of the questions was if people thought that the environment is more complex than it was 5 years ago. Here are the responses for the following areas (based on results so far)…

  • 76% said yes for product complexity
  • 89% said yes for technology complexity
  • 73% said yes for organizational complexity
  • 70% said yes for business product complexity

And then when asked what skills were most used in today’s environment, the results were…

  • 11% said communication skills
  • 16% said project management fundamentals
  • 19% said leadership skills
  • 54% said soft or consultative skills

So it is interesting that the far majority people believe that the environment is becoming more complex and that they need to use consultative skills the most and yet most organizations and materials in the marketplace focus on PM fundamentals. Time for a new competency model….and thus my new book.

Posted by: kerrywills | January 27, 2017

PM Survey

I am starting to work on book number five and the topic is on an evolved competency model for project managers. This time, instead of finding industry research, I wanted to create my own survey to collect information from practitioners. I am asking you to please takeĀ  the 5 minute survey as well as pass it along to other practitioners.


Thank you for your support in this activity

Posted by: kerrywills | January 27, 2017

Guiding Principles in Agile

In 2013, I published my second book on a set of Guiding Principles which should be used to manage projects and programs. In recent years Agile and Scaled Agile frameworks have become very popular with many companies and programs adopting their techniques. This approach appears to rely less on project management as it really focuses on delivery teams. However, as I think about it, I still believe that it is the competencies of the people which make any approach successful and therefore still believe that these principles apply.


Here are some examples of how each of the 8 principles apply in an agile world..

  1. Diligence – Updating epic and feature progress information as well as backlogs require being diligent as the model is based on these being accurate with updated information
  2. Attention to Detail – Per #1 keeping epic and feature information accurate including proper dependencies
  3. Simplicity – Keeping the requests and solution simple as to prioritize the “must have” and most valuable information first
  4. Transparency – The entire model is based on transparency given how work is broken down; this includes aggregating progress, dependencies and velocity
  5. Single Sources of Truth – Scope, milestones and schedule need to be in one location (e.g. a tool or backlog) so the teams are working from the same page
  6. Fact Based – Dependencies, epic progress and velocity are all used for planning, prioritization and decision making
  7. The “Ships” – Ownership of scope is essential to the model as is governance and prioritization
  8. Customer Approach – There are many hand-offs and “customers” of information

These are just simple examples but they demonstrate that the principles are very much applicable in this model (or any model) and why they are so important. Good thing, since I did not want to have to rewrite that entire book!

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