Posted by: kerrywills | February 27, 2015

Is it possible to focus?

I spend my entire day in meetings. Every time, though, there are multiple concurrent distractions…

  • Instant messaging about the meeting from people in it (e.g. the play by play, making fun of people, reacting to commentary, planning next steps, etc)
  • Instant messaging on other topics
  • Text messages on my phone
  • eMails
  • People stopping by my office to talk

Focus-Logo Final

In most meetings I have all five happening at the same time so I find it difficult to listen/participate and do these things. I find it even harder to NOT do these things since there really is no “work” time when I am not in meetings. So I force myself to take notes in OneNote during the meeting which helps me to organize the content and listen for key points. It also helps me to have documented information for later (since my memory is worse than my inability to focus).

Unfortunately, I think this is just the reality of the workplace today and we have to learn how to deal with it because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do them at different times and not concurrently. What do other people do to focus? Hey look a squirrel…

Posted by: kerrywills | February 20, 2015

50 Shades of Yellow

Ok I had to jump on the recent media blitz around the 50 Shades of Grey movie. I have found that on projects there are multiple shades of yellow…while maybe not 50 there are many shades. Generally, yellow means a project is at risk but, as noted, there are multiple “shades” of yellow…

  • Orange - The project is at significant risk and requires management to do something about it
  • Moderate Yellow - The project has significant risks which have mitigationsĀ and management needs to be aware but doesn’t need to take additional action
  • Yellow-Ish – The project has some noted risks but is still tracking to its milestones
  • Yellow/Green – The project is going well and there are a few ‘watch items’ but nothing major



I think the lesson here is that we need to be clear in our communications when there is a yellow status and manage expectations around what that means and what action is needed since not every yellow status is the same.

So I am sorry if you thought, from the title of this posting, that the article would be more ‘stimulating’ but this is a Project Management blog after all. But if it makes you feel better, consider thatĀ I am writing this while blindfolded and handcuffed to my office chair….

Posted by: kerrywills | February 13, 2015

Supply and Demand

It seems that everywhere I turn colleagues are reaching out to me to see if I know any Project Managers who are available because there are needs to fill. With the economy turning around and business being as competitive as ever, companies are making more investments and require people to manage that work. With over one million certified PMPs and probably many more with the title Project Manager it is amazing that the demand seems to outweigh the supply right now. That is purely from a numbers perspective, let along finding GOOD project managers and not just people with the title on their resume.


So, the good news is, that our profession seems to be in high demand which should afford us more opportunities and pay (macro-economics suggests that when demand exceeds supply that price, or in our case pay, goes up). This means we need to keep growing our skills and adding to our profession since there is a real need in the marketplace today.

Posted by: kerrywills | February 6, 2015

Assessing troubled projects

Well since my last book came out two years ago, I thought it was time to start writing my next (and third) book. It is a natural evolution of my books so far.

  1. Improving the skills of PMs – My first book, Essential Project Management Skills, focused on the key skills required for PMs to be successful in today’s business landscape. It makes the case for a consultative approach and then explains what those skills require.
  2. Improve the effectiveness of how to run programs – Building on having the right skills the next book, Applying Guiding Principles of Effective Program Delivery, focuses on eight guiding principles of how to run programs using a consultative approach.
  3. Assessing projects. The first two books focused on having the right skills and then managing programs properly, so the next logical evolution would be to focus on assessing projects and programs.


This third book will outline the approach for how to assess a project, what areas to look for, and key considerations to contemplate when performing the project review. This book is written from the perspective of a practitioner with specific focus areas and not just an audit that has a checklist of things to cross off. I am currently working with a few publishers and expect it to come out at some point in 2015.

Posted by: kerrywills | January 30, 2015

Extreme Organizing

I recently watched a weekend marathon of “Extreme Hoarding” which is a series that documents people who cannot throw anything away and therefore have collected years worth of items. The entire time I watch in amazement at the piles that have built up and how these people have to climb over mountains of garbage to get anywhere. The most fascinating part is when they find mummified cats that have been missing for years under piles of garbage.

These people are polar opposites of many Project Managers, who I would categorize as “Extreme Organizers.” Because we are the focal point for all information and plans on our projects we have to be very organized. We need to know where the project is at all times and have metrics and lists to give us that transparency.

My worst nightmare

I am definitely an Extreme Organizer with my OneNote files divided into sections and pages sorted by category and date, my plans which are grouped into categories, my action item logs to not forget a single item, and even my clothes sorted by season and color (ROYGBIV…obviously). Plus, I am aware of where my cats are at any given point.

I think both categories are obsessive – hoarders obsess over keeping “things” and PMs obsess over organizing and planning. Amazing how the same condition can make some people immobile and some people motivated. Oh well, back to organizing (and the Extreme Hoarding marathon).

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