Posted by: kerrywills | June 16, 2017

I don’t want Darth Maul on my team…

Recently, I took my kids to a local Comic Convention (BTW isn’t one of the reasons to have kids is that you can go to these things and not be the weird old guy?). My son is a huge Star Wars fan and the actor who played Darth Maul was going to be there for autographs. We made sure to get there when it opened and went straight to his line and then waited about 20 minutes before someone said that he is usually late. So we walked around the entire convention and came back an hour and a half later. We then waited another half an hour to find out he had finally arrived but was speaking on a panel. So we went for lunch and came back another two hours later and waited on line for another 30 minutes. Everyone was frustrated, tired and disappointed since we had planned to be home by now relaxing in our poo.l Finally he showed up and we got to meet him. He was very nice and chatted with us for a while.

In business and on projects (and in life), a commitment needs to mean something. So if someone is expected to complete a task or show up at a certain meeting, then that should be taken seriously. While we did get the autograph, it feels like he did not take the commitment seriously. This is not someone that I would want on my team…even though the signature is fantastic!

Posted by: kerrywills | June 9, 2017

Running my pool

Summer is here and that means time to start and and run my pool. Running my pool is like a project with its own lifecycle…

  1. Planning and setup – I have to get the pool opened which means putting all of the pieces together, assembling the pump, cleaning out the entire pool and getting the chemicals right. This yea, my “issue” was having mice in the heater which ate some of the wires which needed to be repaired.
  2. Running – Once set up I have to maintain the pool. This includes checking and adjusting the chemicals, ensuring the right water level, cleaning it and making sure that the systems are up and running when appropriate. And don’t forget maintaining all inflatable animals and chairs.
  3. Closing – Once the summer is over we have to drain the pool and take the equipment apart for storage. I also do a “lessons learned” to make sure that I have a successful project next year.

So the kids get a summer of fun with their friends and I get another project to manage. But at least I have my floating chair…

Posted by: kerrywills | June 2, 2017

Optimizing structure

I often hear leaders say that “there are too many project managers” when referencing the structure of Portfolios today and I do think that they are right. However, I deeply believe that project and program structures are a byproduct of organizational boundaries, despite being considered virtual teams that should span organizations. There are several examples of how an organizational structure can affect a project structure…

  • Having an IT PM and a Business PM manage the same project
  • Having one PM per asset/team aligned to each project
  • Having a PM manage one piece of a broader solution

The result is a lot of overlap, inefficiencies and sometimes confusion of roles. As much as possible, projects and organizations should look to have a project manager own delivery of an end-to-end solution. This will allow for clear ownership and accountability and significantly reduce the amount of management required to deliver on scope. Note that there may still be cultural or territorial challenges that will require senior leadership to be involved.

Posted by: kerrywills | May 26, 2017

The evolution of basketball

I am a big fan of basketball and have been watching for many years. When I first became a fan in the 1980s, players were known as “position players” which meant they had a specific role on the team. For example…

  • Dennis Rodman was a Power Forward and all he did was rebound the ball (he had nearly 12,000 of them)
  • Dikembe Mutombo was a Center who was known for blocking shots (over 3,000 of them)
  • John Stockton was a Point Guard who was known for making assists (15,800)

Basketball has evolved to the point where there are no longer position players, so much as players who can play any position. For example, Russell Westbrook this year averaged over ten points, ten rebounds and ten assists over the entire season. Also Lebron James is a Forward who is usually a top ten player in the league for assists.

This same evolution is happening in project delivery especially in the world of “agile.” It is no longer sufficient for a Project Manager to just manage a project plan. They need to be able to understand the business and technology of the project. They also need to negotiate, influence and facilitate action and stakeholders.  We need to recognize this evolution so, like Russell Westbrook, we can excel in every statistical category (quality of delivery, cost, and schedule).

Posted by: kerrywills | May 19, 2017

Springtime means project work!

After months of cold and snow, we are finally seeing signs of Spring. Since I am a project manager and a planner by nature, that means it is time to organize my project plan around the work…

  • Clean up leaves
  • Mulch the landscaping
  • Dethatch the yard
  • Put out the patio furniture
  • Fertilize the grass
  • Turn on the sprinklers
  • Clean out the mud and salt from the garage

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Beyond just having a plan I am also tracking new risks and issues…

  • New cracks in the driveway that need repair
  • Trees that are leaning over
  • Animals tearing up yard in winter
  • Our roof was leaking water and needed to be replaced
  • The front steps shifted and need to be re-done

Oh and don’t forget my project budget of seed, mulch, lawn mower repair, and other assorted products.

Well as you can tell, Spring is a full project for me with plenty of actions, risks and issues already. I am planning on taking an “agile” approach to my project by prioritizing the work and iterating a little each weekend.

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