All in project management
I recently read a pair of books that talk about project management shifting into product management - both of which seem to blame the woes of organizations on project management. One is Mik Kersten’s Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework, and the other is more of a work-in-process book (and free) #noprojects: A Culture of Continuous Value by Evan Leybourn and Shane Hastie.
Overall, these books present some interesting ideas on how to think of delivering value - whether it is in a project environment or not. And they present a few frustrations for me in that I don’t think the core problem is due to “projects.” I think it is deeper embedded into organizations that are so fractured that the flow of value has been lost. Lets get that righted, and project management AND product management work much better.
HBR this month has a great article on Too Many Projects by Rose Hollister and Michael D. Watkins. The essence of the article is that organizations have far too many projects, initiatives, efforts underway. And that they struggle to STOP that work - or not start it to begin with.
The latest DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) wrapped up last week in Las Vegas. Amongst the videos and tweets and blog posts that have come out of the event was a quick interview with Gene Kim on the Agile Amped podcast with Greg Bledsoe of SolutionsIQ.
This is a great list of the Internet-era ways of working from Tom Loosemore and public digital on what they mean by work in the era of the internet. I love coda to this list - “break any of these rules sooner than do anything barbaric.” There are also a number of items in here that make me step back and pause to check about my own assumptions.
My long-time blogging friend, Jim McGee, will be teaching a course on project management and has some thoughts on how to enhance the course this time around. His main question in Design projects before worrying about managing them is "We would do a better job at managing projects if we spent more time designing them first"?
Sanjeev Gupta of Realization gave the opening keynote on the second day of TOCICO. The talk was billed as "The Rising Importance of TOC" but ended up becoming "Solving the Projects Problem: It's not about buffers or behaviors" based on his experience with years and years of CCPM software and implementations.
Too high work-in-process (WIP) is dangerous for all sorts of reasons in almost any organization. It slows everything down like the molasses in winter. But simply saying “cut WIP” without understanding why it remains so high is a recipe for disaster. Let’s think about this a little.
It seems so easy to start with the tools before we think about why and what we are doing. The Agile Manifesto for Software Development provides a suggestion: People and Interactions over Processes and Tools.
I came across "Guest Blog: Finding Science and Success with Lean Principles in R&D" by Norbert Majerus of Goodyear on the Factory Physics website, and it describes the Factory Physics ideas as applied in new product development, and I thought it was a pretty good summary. This is also a lot of what we do with Theory of Constraints concepts applied in product development (and project management) arenas too.
Unlocking Innovation Productivity (Proven Strategies that Have Transformed Organizations for Profitable and Predictable New Product Growth Worldwide) by Mike Dalton is a guide to the challenges of product innovation and how to overcome them. He provides seven cumulative strategies to improve innovation, all based on Critical Chain Project Management and the underlying Theory of Constraints.
Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization by Domenico Lepore, Angela Montgomery and Giovanni Siepe. It's a good read for people interested in management and creating ever-flourishing organizations.
A video about multitasking told from the perspective of a design engineer who was lost in the world of multitasking - it took him four weeks to do a 2-4 day design task.
"The rule of five" is a new-to-me idea for managing multitasking at the individual level. It's a combination of the task board and the idea of dropping things to the floor. Have an explicit list and keep it in control. Interesting.
Breakthrough Project Management from Ian Heptinstall and Robert Bolton is a brief guide to getting significantly improved project performance through combining two management approaches: One is Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) and the other is collaborative contracting. For me the material on CCPM is a confirmation of what I have been doing for many years. And the material on Project Alliancing is new, and yet it rings bells for ensuring successful projects of any type.
The project management community like to point to examples of really bad project management. Every once in awhile, there are examples of extremely good project management as well. These are all videos, but they get the story across
Ajai Kapoor has a nice piece on LinkedIn Pulse where he says, "Please STOP planning ... Really." He recounts the familiar challenge of plan / don't plan. Plan because we want to direct our efforts into the right places to achieve some goal. But don't plan because plans never survive contact with the enemy.
Mike Dalton has a nice series of articles on project management in Industry Week (and copied to LinkedIn Pulse). "Are Your Plans Realistic & Robust?" entry is on planning and using the CCPM approach to construct a plan.
Dee Jacob (author of Velocity) provided a workshop of a game she has been developing over many years of practice in critical chain project management. I have looked around for games or simulations to help highlight the critical pieces of critical chain, and this is the best I've seen.
Another talk on Strategy & Tactics Trees at the conference came from Michael Hannan. In this presentation he suggested updating the current "projects" S&T Tree to be more universal to any project-delivery organization.