Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guiding Principles 6: Proactivity

Take a proactive approach to identifying and resolving project challenges.

By ‘proactive’ I suppose they mean ‘active’ (I just quibble with words here, but ‘pro-active’ is such junk English).

The project team has to actively identify and resolve project challenges. That’s their job. Now, what could distract them from their job?

It is the C-suite that has the answers to this: remove obstructions from the team’s work in doing this, and get rid of the fake ‘challenges’ that could impair the project.

Fake challenges? I mean intentional under-resourcing, creating problems at the interfaces, applying corporate rules to procurement that might not serve the project’s interests, creating an environment that punishes honest reporting of progress or lack there of. Then failing to take advice on solutions that the project team can see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Using word like a typewriter.

Part of using Word to communicate is to give a document clarity of layout. Some of the message is thus sent by design.

I had a document from one of my team leaders that needed some content edits, and it was quicker for me to get into it and do them myself. Nothing dramatic, so no real coaching opportunity in it.

The document opened I couldn't quite see how it was constructed so I turned on markings--and what a mess!

Instead of using Word's tools like tabs, tables and cell positioning, paragraph layout, my colleage had used the spacebar...for everything. Move one piece of text and the whole line is thrown out, move another and the vertical order is wreaked.

A real step back in efficiency.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Check the e-mail

How many times have you received an e-mail, read it, then acted, only to find that the real message was in the 'trail' of e-mails below the one you read; below the 'fold' in web design parlance.

I usually browse through the trail to see if there's anything there for me, but last week, I didn't. The request seemed to be self-explanatory and self-contained. The trail below it also seemed to be giving various positions, so the author I read had assumed that a reader would work out from the complex trail what they were asked to do.

Not so, too many choices, too many assumptions would have to be made.

To convert this melange to communication, if you must send an e-mail trail, copy, paste and edit to make sure you send the message you want action on. Projects are too complex to think that a reader can work out what you mean from a long trail of e-mails from different authors full of discussion, fact, and inquiry.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Governance is a special case of leadership or management.

Just like leadership it runs on information; but this time it features reporting and decision making structures that cover all aspects of a project or organisation, and not restricted to core delivery.

What do I mean?

Project governance is centrally to do with decision making that affects the delivery of the project and its relationship to corporate (owner or sponsor) priorities and mission.

The basic question of project governance is "is this project going to deliver the value that will advance the corporate mission, compared to other current or forthcoming opportunities.

In the answer to this question the risk of throwing good money after bad has to be confronted boldly. Be prepared to end a project that will not produce what an alternative use of $ will.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fresh new role for the PMO

A project management office is usually looked to to provide a consistent project infrastructure within an organisation. It also connects the organisation's executive to project performance information in a reporting system.

It can, should, indeed, must be more: to build project capability and bring benefits from projects.

My project managers have meetings with our version of a PMO each month, where they dutifully talk about activity completed and delayed, and risks that have emerged. No work is done to connect our projects to any other projects in an organisation full of interrelated action to achieve a grand mission. There are no forums it sponsors to bring people together, no practice development discussions to share approaches or ideas. Nothing except a regressive check on what's happened.

I think you can get the picture. If a PMO is not building capability, bringing people together to develop expertise and find project relationships, then its not contributing to the value mission of the organisation. Change it, or get rid of it.