Posted by: kerrywills | September 23, 2016

Organizational Short Term Memory Loss

gyhIn my career I have worked for three companies for more than six years each and what I have found is that strategies and initiatives tend to be cyclical. By this I mean that organizations may have a strategy (centralize a function, deploy a new process, change an organization) and then a few years later change it and then even more years later bring back something that looks like the original thing. I call this “organizational short term memory loss” in that organizations forget their history and then repeat it.


I think somehow there is a belief that changing something is always “better” than what is currently in place. This may be true, but we need to understand the causes of problems and seek to address those as opposed to just making changes. We also need to understand the history and why something may not have been successful.

We should always be seeking to ‘evolve’ and not just change but we need remember. Maybe organizations should hand out strings to tie around people’s fingers.


Posted by: kerrywills | September 16, 2016

Don’t Worry Be Happy

I recently attended a seminar on The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor who has spent years researching the science of being happy. Not only was he a great and entertaining presenter, but his information on the benefits of being happy were very insightful.  In short, people who are happy are more successful, live longer, and perform better than people with higher IQs. This seems very reasonable to me as I have always believed that people “create their own world” in that we generate what we believe. If we believe the world to be a horrible and bad place, then it will be that for us.


This is important in the workplace where we interact with other people for so many hours in a day. We have all worked with people (or many of them) who are absolutely miserable and they find a problem with everything. As project managers and leaders we need to set the tone and motivate people for success, which means we need a positive outlook on things. Being positive does not mean hiding bad news or not confronting it, but it does mean that the team members look to us to drive the culture of the projects and there is a way to be positive and honest even when there is bad news.

In the 1980s  Bobby McFerrin had a song called “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” As project managers we do spend a lot of time worrying which is a good thing for our projects but we should figure out a way to both worry AND be happy. Our health, projects and teams will be better for it.

Posted by: kerrywills | September 9, 2016

Status in the Context of Milestones

Projects and status reports go hand-in-hand. Every project stakeholder wants to know how their status is doing and every project I have ever seen or worked on has a different format for presenting status. Some are bullets in an e-mail, some are Word documents and some are PowerPoint reports. For the most part, they all describe what the team is working on, what work is upcoming and where there may be risks and issues.  They also usually have an array of colors representing various health metrics.


I am a passionate believer that it is not enough to just post a status on where the work is but that all status needs to be in the context of milestones. Saying that an activity is done or something is at risk without the context of what milestone or commitment is being impacted does not provide the right context. The audience of the status wants to understand what it means to their expected delivery dates and not necessarily all of the details in between.

Therefore, I believe that EVERY risk, issue, color, and bullet needs to be aligned to and organized with the associated milestone. So all of the status reports that I create show the key commitments and then color code them with the associated risks.

Posted by: kerrywills | September 2, 2016

Radar O’Reilly

Growing up during the 1970s my family and I watched the show “MASH” on TV which was about a medical unit based in Korea. One of the main characters was “Radar” O’Reilly who was given the nickname “Radar” because of his ability to predict helicopters arriving with patients.


On our projects, we need to have similar foresight as “Radar” in our ability to predict issues, risks, upcoming activities, and requests. This requires diligence in the tracking and managing of project information (financials, schedule milestones, etc) which allows us to see trends and get ahead of them. It also comes from experience and having the right ‘gut’ feelings.

Having this radar ability allows us to get ahead of issues and asks before they happen which allows us time to prepare for them accordingly.

Posted by: kerrywills | August 26, 2016

Constant Improvement

I am a big believer in constant improvement which means continually re-assessing my work, team structure, processes and organization. For programs I run this means considering how we operate, meeting organization, the team structure and other ways of improving the effectiveness of the team. This also means soliciting feedback from team members, stakeholders and customers to understand their views. Program landscapes evolve over time so it is important to assess the operating model and look for ways to improve it to optimize the effectiveness.


Programs and organizations need to evolve so they must constantly be looking for ways to improve and add value to their customers. Almost daily I receive requests for information, forms or meetings from teams or organizations who clearly do not think this way which only adds more burden on the programs and team members trying to deliver on work.  Not one of them has asked for my feedback (as a customer and stakeholder) of how to improve their processes or meet their needs while reducing the impact to the teams.

So, in the spirit of this posting, please send me feedback on the blog and if it meets your needs.

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