Posted by: kerrywills | October 9, 2015

Be yourself

I have been in a leadership training course all week. We have had speakers come in, discussed what it means to be a leader and looked at surveys sent to the team. I truly believe that one’s leadership style has to be their own and based on “who they are.” So I think training can help “round out the edges” but generally people are who they are.  To this end I feel that when people try to be someone that they are not, the team picks up on that as people can generally tell when someone is not being genuine and then they tend to lose credibility.


So then, in my view, the key is for people to be a “conscious” leader which means to pay attention to their style, their interactions and the impact of those things on people around them and then tailor their approach accordingly. This is the whole concept of Emotional Intelligence that Daniel Goleman writes about.

So the keys to being a great leader then would be (1) Figure out who you are (2) Be who you are and (3) Be conscious of this and others as you look to lead them

Posted by: kerrywills | October 2, 2015

Building legos

The other night before going to bed, I was explaining to my son what I do for work. I was trying to think about how a ten your old could understand Project Management so I told him a project is like building a big Lego set (he loves to do this). I told him that we had millions of pieces and needed to put the set together in a certain timeframe.

  • We have a team of people who figure out what colors to use
  • Some people work on designing the final set
  • Some people build the set
  • Some people make sure that the set is built correctly



He seemed to understand what I was saying so I suppose the metaphor works. Now I am just waiting for him to ask me why a company would spend $200 Million on a big lego set.


Posted by: kerrywills | September 25, 2015

The Practical Manifesto

I have been working on IT Programs for over twenty years now and have worked in multiple Software Delivery Lifecycles (SDLCs). I have also had roles where I owned these processes as the CMMI Lead for a Fortune 100 company and as a process owner at other companies. There are many different deployment models for these methodologies which include standards, templates, process documents, coaches, training, etc.

Several years back the Agile delivery experts defined the “Agile Manifesto” around key principles for delivering in that method. Along these lines I have drafted what I am calling the “Practical Manifesto” which are the principles for which (I believe) companies should consider when implementing any methodology.

  • Focus on Intent as opposed to the Prescription – companies, cultures, organizations and people are different and so taking a generic prescriptive approach is not optimal; rather companies should focus on the intent or ‘spirit’ of the practice and look to align to those within their own cultures and standards
  • Consider Constraints of organization – Companies have many constraints including tools, processes, organizational boundaries, funding models, business prioritization, etc. which MUST be considered when deploying any new model. These can not be deployed in a vacuum without considering these constraints, or they will fail
  • Goal is Meeting Commitments vs compliance – These methdologies all promise better delivery and that needs to be the focus. Many process organizations focus on compliance to the process and assume this means better delivery. Instead of inferring better delivery, that should be forefront as the goal. If a project is 100% compliant to a framework but doesn’t deliver, I don’t believe we can call it successful
  • Develop Approach and Roadmap for organization – Process maturity needs to be recognized as a journey which requires a deliberate roadmap which allows an organization make steps recognizing maturity and constraints. “Big bang” approaches cause confusion, inefficiency and generally don’t succeed


So my point is that we need to take a practical approach to deploying changes which focus on the intention and goals of delivery while considering the constraints of the organization and align to a larger roadmap. I am sure there are a lot of process zealots who will read this and disagree with some of the points so please post comments and let me know what you think.

Posted by: kerrywills | September 18, 2015

Watermellon reporting

Status reporting with colors is a staple of Project Management and yet there is always so much attention an angst placed on what colors to report on. When is something yellow? What does yellow even mean? No one wants to show red. I believe that there is as much psychology involved in the color choice as there is fact – people are afraid of management yelling at them or being perceived as not having things under control (and therefore failing).

This fear of reporting bad news leads to a phenomenon known as “watermelon reporting” where a project is all red on inside but green on outside. Meaning a PM may report green when every metric shows (and the entire team believes) that it is in really bad shape.




For me, what matters is the ability to meet commitments and therefore the color shouldn’t matter – red doesn’t mean to blame or “get” anyone so much as an item that requires management attention to resolve. So in order to get to the truth and a culture of transparency, leaders need to not punish people for being red and PMs need to have the courage to report red when there are, indeed, problems.

Posted by: kerrywills | September 11, 2015

Bruce Banner

The Avengers is one of my favorite movies. During one of the battle scenes Captain America says “Doctor Banner, now might be a good time for you to get angry.” Bruce Banner then says “That’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry!” I can relate to this statement as I am always anxious.


Being a Program Manager means you should always be worried.

  • Worried about scope
  • Worried about financials
  • Worried about meeting milestones
  • Worried that risks will be realized
  • Worried that issues will prevent key activities
  • Worried that action items do not get followed up on

So, in a similar way that Bruce Banner is always angry we need to be always anxious so that we can continue to save the world as many times as the Avengers have.


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