Project management and knowledge management are about getting things done. I attended and spoke at the Center for Business Information (CBI) 6th Annual Forum on Knowledge Management this week in Philadelphia. Rather than talk about knowledge management directly, I opted to speak about managing projects - whether they are KM or other types. If you are curious, here is the mind map that I used to structure my talk (full map for the very curious).
I spent most of the time speaking about the challenges people have in project management and some of the underlying causes. I reflected back on the vicious cycle of how organizations operate (one version here) that almost guarantees projects will be late. And then, of course, talked about some options on changing the way we operate. Those are:
- Encourage focus (no multitasking)
- limit how much work is active
- full kit - don't start the work without having everything you need to do the work
- Discourage local rules
- keeping people busy makes for too much multitasking
- finishing tasks "on time" doesn't ensure project success
- Create a mechanism for priority
Of course, Critical Chain Project Management is a great solution, and I have had great successes with this approach. CCPM does this by ensuring the planned project doesn't reinforce the idea of multitasking (critical chain = the longest chain of resource dependent activities). And CCPM pulls safety out of individual tasks and puts it where it belongs: the project, where it can be monitored and used to help determine priority and attention required of the project.
But what if you don't have the authority to change project management in your company? There are some great ideas out there for personal effectiveness and "time management" that strive for the same goals about multitasking and getting stuff done. I mentioned the idea of Kanban boards and related mechanism. The key behind them is that they help small groups and individuals separate the "things I should do" from the "things I'm doing now." Separate the great ideas from what you have decided to do. And keep the number of active items to a minimum, so that they get to DONE quickly.
For reference, here are some starting points on what to read next. On the CCPM side of things:
- Billion Dollar Solution, Rob Newbold (my review)
- Simplifying Innovation, Michael Dalton (my review)
- Be Fast or Be Gone, Andreas Scherer (my review)
- Lean Project Leadership, Lawrence Leach (my review)
And on the Kanban / Personal Effectiveness side of things:
- Kanban, David Anderson (my review)
- Personal Kanban, Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry
- Getting Things Done, David Allen
The conference was intimate. And the interactions superb, as usual. Thanks to CBI for inviting me. (And to Kate Pugh for the suggestion.)