Posted by: kerrywills | March 16, 2018

Agile and Project Management Competencies

In my last book I focused on “consultative competencies” and whenever I give this presentation I get asked about what this means as companies move towards agile and, specifically, scaled agile models since these do not have “project management” roles. While there may not be roles with the PM title in them, there are many roles that, in order to be successful, require the same consultative competencies. Here are several examples using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as a reference…

  • Scrum Masters need to be able to facilitate work, ensure obstacles are removed as escalate risks and issues as they arise
  • Release Train engineers need to work across many different teams and with many different stakeholders so they need to able to communicate, negotiate, influence and manage many moving parts
  • Solution Train Engineers need to be able to manage large initiatives with many interdependencies and also influence multiple stakeholder

So I still believe that we need to focus on improving our competencies and especially the softer or “consultative” ones so that we can evolve our profession with the new model.

Posted by: kerrywills | March 9, 2018

It can’t just be the glory

Both of my children play sports and both of them have someone on their team who plays in the same way; focused on the glory. On my son’s basketball team there is a player who mostly shoots three pointers but does not like to run or play defense. Similarly, there is a player on my daughter’s soccer team who only wants to shoot on goal and does not chase down the ball or play defense. Both seem to only want to score and get the glory but not do the other things necessary to win the game or help their teammates.

I see people like this in the workplace also; they  just want to present to senior management or push out their ideas but not help the team to do the work required to be successful. As with sports, project work is a team activity which may require doing things that is not glorious or exciting but that is required. We need to be just as focused on helping out team with these activities as we are with getting the glory. Doing that will help the team to be successful and will earn you the respect of your teams members (which is the real glory).

Posted by: kerrywills | March 2, 2018

Team players

It is basketball season so I will continue with my insights based on coaching my son’s team. There are ten players on his team and therefore I have them set up into two lineups. One lineup has my son at Point Guard and the other lineup has another kid (let’s call him Player 2 for purposes of this post) at Point Guard. Player 2 is a very good ball handler and shooter but the problem is that he does not pass the ball to the other players and takes most of the shots. In the first game of the season he scored around 14 points and I overheard him asking my son how many he had, which was only 4 points.

As I thought about this some more I realized that while my son only had 4 points, he had 6 assists and forced almost ten turnovers which led to even more points. So while he didn’t personally score as many points, he contributed to almost twice as many as Player 2 and involved his team more which made them play better as well. This is an important concept for our teams at work as well – we should not just strive to find the best individual contributor but rather to find those people who make the entire team better. I call these people “multipliers” because they provide a multiplier effect to the productivity of the other people around them.

So, when forming our teams we definitely want some good players but we should also lookto find those people who maximize the overall effectiveness of the team as well.

Posted by: kerrywills | February 23, 2018

Types of people in meetings

I spend most of my work days in meetings. I have noticed that there are people who seem to have the same type of interaction in meetings. Here are some of my observed roles.

  • The Repeater – Does not really have their own opinion but rather repeats what other people say. May or may not change the wording, but it is pretty much the same content
  • The Face-Maker – Tends to make facial gestures which suggest disagreement, frustration and laughter when others are talking
  • The Preacher – Will speak at every opportunity and turn it into their own personal sermon
  • The Jokester – Finds humor in topics that may not be funny
  • The Behind-The-Scenes Talker – May not participate in the meeting actively but is sending instant messages to everyone else commenting on the topics
  • The Clarifier – They need to understand everything and interrupt often with “let me understand XYZ” even if their role does not require understanding
  • The Interrupter – Jumps in whenever they need to say something
  • The “Aint-No-Stopping-Me-Now” Talker  – The arch-nemesis to the interrupter and generally uses the phrase “let me finish” to keep going

I have seen these roles play out many times and, in some cases, several roles are played by the same person. We should all consider the type of roles that we play during meetings…or if not just sit back and enjoy the show.

Posted by: kerrywills | February 16, 2018

I think in PowerPoint and organize in Excel

I am obsessed with Microsoft Office products to the point where I use them as a way of functioning at work. I see many coworkers who have meetings, discuss items, draw pictures and then translate them into a document format. I tend to use online tools as a way of working. Here are some examples of how I do this…

  • When I am thinking through a concept, picture or story I start working it Microsoft PowerPoint. Because it is online I am able to move around slides, format objects or draw the pictures real-time
  • Whenever I have information to organize, I do in in Microsoft Excel. This could be making lists, comparing different options or running financial calculations
  • I capture key meeting information in a structured format within Microsoft OneNote
  • I have a running Word document open where I capture key activities or prepare agendas or questions for meetings

I believe that these are called “productivity tools” for a reason and find that using them while I work is incredibly efficient (so that I am not rewriting content) and helps me to better organize my thinking and be prepared. Now, the downside is that I am always staring at my laptop. I am curious how others use these tools for productivity.


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