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.

Posted by: kerrywills | May 12, 2017

One Thing at a Time

Programs are really complex and, at times, can be overwhelming with so many things going on at the same time..

  • Planning and estimating new work
  • Tracking hundreds of activities and milestones
  • Loads of action items, issues and risks
  • Resource challenges
  • Administrative updates for the limitless organizations that have forms, processes, reports and tools required (why are there so many?)

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Trying to manage all of these things can lead anyone to a nervous breakdown (espcially when combined with family obligations, child activities, home problemts, etc). So really the only thing we can do (beside rocking in the corner in fetal position sucking our thumb for comfort) is to make lists of the items and then attack them one at a time.

Making a list is the first step because it captures all of the items requiring attention and allows for us to see them all and prioritize between them. Then we can take them on ourselves or by assigning other people to them.

So whenever you start feeling overwhelmed just remember that simple advise to take things “one at a time.”

Posted by: kerrywills | May 5, 2017

A little less conversation and a little more action

In one of his classic songs, Elvis Presley once said “a little less conversation and a little more action please.” Of course, he wasn’t speaking about project work but he could have been (since I interpret everything in the context of project work). Oftentimes, we get stuck in hours of meetings which is nothing but people talking. I do believe that discussion is important to involve people and to understand risks, implications and options for challenges but there should be a culture that leans towards action.

Elvis has relevant project wisdom

A culture of action could mean driving towards specific activities required to close out risks or progress work forward. These actions should include names and target dates associated with them. They should be documented in a shared log and then followed up on regularly to ensure closure.Without this level of diligence and focus, the conversations may just keep going and going like Elvis’ hips did back in the day!

Posted by: kerrywills | April 28, 2017

Meteor Showers

In the early days of the Universe, the Earth was constantly bombarded with meteors. This caused lots of craters on the Earth and The Moon, many of which are still visible on the surface of The Moon. Like the early Universe, projects get constantly bombarded with meteors of all different sizes. Some examples include…

  • Requests from outside organizations for templates, forms, reports or meetings
  • Management “fire drills”
  • Unexpected issues in delivery that require immediate attention

Like The Earth, we can not really control the number or the size of the meteors that are coming our way but we can prepare for them to minimize the impact. This could include diligent tracking of work or having full transparency of progress. This way, when a request for information comes in, the team is prepared to share it without making it a several day fire drill of collecting information. Being prepared also results in the identification of risks earlier (e.g. telescopes to see them coming) so that there is ample time to course correct or mitigate the risk before it impacts (collides) with our projects.

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