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.┬áLike 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.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 21, 2017

You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do

On the classic television show “I Love Lucy”, Ricky is known for a famous line where he told Lucy that she had some “‘splainin to do.” In the world of projects, project managers always have some ‘splainin to do. This means that they are accountable for the entire project and therefore must be able to articulate (“splain”) the many aspects of their project….

  • The status of work
  • Key risks and mitigations
  • Financial progress and risks
  • Any schedule slippage

So in order to “splain” properly, project managers need to understand all of the moving parts and manage with diligence and transparency in a way that allows them to be able to articulate where things are and what the risks are. The last thing we want to do is to be in a meeting with senior people where we can not “splain” what is going on…or we will likely be cancelled like the I Love Lucy show.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 14, 2017

Chore Charts

One of my friends had posted a picture on Facebook of the “chore chart” that they had made for their little kids. And of course this made me think of it a project management technique. Chore charts are used to assign specific chores to children, such as taking out the garbage or cleaning the table after a meal. When chores get completed, the children are rewarded with stickers, money or points they can use towards things.

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In the case of project management, this could be an effective technique. Think about it….

  • It identifies the activities
  • It delegates the activities to resources
  • It manages expectations of resources
  • It rewards successful completion of activities

 

So maybe I should consider a chore chart for my project, but it may be hard to add all 5,000 line items from my plan and all 1,000 people…and I would run out of stickers very quickly.

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