Tag Archives: Project

The Importance of Writing Well

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

For years I’ve used an introductory dialogue for classroom Communication topics. It involves a tee-up, “Based on research done by the US Navy years ago, different people have different preferences in the way they receive information.” And then I write on a flipchart the following, while saying most of these words:

  • 45% Readers
  • 45% Listeners
  • 5% Both
  • 5% Fool

The key is this: While I’d write Fool, I’d say Neither. Typical of American humor.

In a room of 20-25 people, around half would laugh, the others would wonder why they are laughing. It is because some were listening, and others were reading.

Improving Communication Effectiveness
But this little vignette brings up a very important point: Statistically, about half of all people prefer to listen to get their information, and about half prefer to read it. Which are you? While the cited statistics say that about 5% do both equally well, the majority of all participants usually think they are part of that 5%. And the majority think their husband/wife/manager/co-worker/customer (pick one) is the last on the list above.

Great communicators seem to intuitively understand the preferences of their audiences. Meanwhile, I resort to using simple models and observation to approximate a similar result. At least, I do when I focus on Conscious Communication, rather than just using my own preferences, and expect that everyone else understands perfectly. Is this Reader/Listener preference why many of us only communicate effectively with half our audiences? And then we wonder what’s wrong with them? Perhaps we can all benefit from a bit more Conscious Communication. Continue reading

The Wonders of Emperor Qin’s Project Portfolio

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

This article continues impressions from our recent trip to China, to honor PMRC, the Project Management Research Committee, and to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. And while we earlier mentioned the TerraCotta Warriors, a must-see adventure for any visitor to this part of China, there is much more to know about the founder of Xi’an, the heart of China’s governance for 2000 years.

We did our research before our visit, not wanting to be ignorant about this important part of China. Books in English about the area are not as common as those covering Beijing, Shanghai, and other parts of this fascinating nation. Among the books we read, we found a very useful book, Xi’an, Shaanxi and the Terracotta Army, by Mooney, Maudsley and Hatherly, published by Odyssey Books and Guides, 2009. We liked this book because of its great blend of geology, geography, art, history, politics, intrigue, and its description of the culture, tourist attractions, foods, and other facets unique to the area.

But the most interesting part was the story of Ying Zheng’s ascendance to his father’s throne as King Qin Shi Huangdi (Qin is pronounced Chin) in the year 246 BCE, and creation of a portfolio of projects that set the stage for unifying China as a nation. He began this at the age of 13—he would not yet even qualify for IPMA Young Crew. Over the next 25 years, he brought together (in battle) the Seven Warring States, and became China’s first Emperor.

Before proceeding, let’s clear up a bit about Emperor Qin’s name. Ling was his family name. Qin was the name of the state. Huang came from legends of three saintly sovereigns; Di came from legends of five saintly emperors. Shi? That means, the first. Such branding! Emperor Qin’s lasting impact was only partly based on his strong military power—his Dynasty was relatively short in duration—it expired quickly after he did. It is his wondrous portfolio of project results that has endured–such that still today, over 2000 years later, China benefits from his peoples’ achievements. Continue reading

Chilean Mining Rescue Miracle—A Program Success

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

“Viva Chile!” Our World watched with awe, soaring hearts, and huge appreciation for the rescuers when the first two miners emerged from their Phoenix rescue capsule. We held off posting or celebrating project success until all the miners—and their rescuers—were safely above ground. And now, in addition to the backstories about the after-effects of 69 days underground, we can reflect on the magnificent Project Management performances of each participant in this most-watched rescue.

Just look at the many heroes, talented team members, inspiring leaders and willing families and pride-full citizens, all focused on one objective: Get our miners out safely. And it appears our entire World is the stakeholder group, as reports surface that this is one of the most-watched web events in history. This is such a lesson about not just passing an exam, but leaders and team members working in synch to successfully manage one of the most-important projects in recent history. With IPMA’s recent activities to certify competent Project Managers and Senior Project Managers in Chile, here is a great opportunity to identify clearly competent and performing end-to-end project managers; most might qualify for Senior Project Manager certification, demonstrating mastery in complex projects.

But was this a project? Two answers: Yes, of course it was, because any time mankind changes the path of fate, inertia, and the status quo, that is what the practice of competent project management brings to society. And no, not just a project, it was an entire complex program, consisting of many projects, some relatively simple (such as providing sufficient electrical power at this remote site), and some very complex, and all working together to achieve the objective: Get our miners out safely.

Repeatedly, the media has mentioned the flawless planning, the contingency actions, the attention to crucial details, the exquisite performance of the plan, and the individual heroics that accentuate success. Note that both the success and the tributes note the combination of technical aspects of project and program management with the contextual and behavioral aspects. This program of related projects will serve case studies for years after our starring miners have recovered from their ordeal. And what shall be the highlights of those case studies? Continue reading

The Work To the Left of Proposal, part 1

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

What is the work to the left of Proposal? The answer depends on your role, your program or project, and your perspective. For example, although many programs involve proposals, many projects do not. In engagements that involve proposals, the majority of success often depends on the work that occurs before the Proposal is ever signed. What is that work, who performs it, and why is it so essential to both Proposal and engagement success? Let us begin by clarifying the actions that occur early in a successful engagements that do not involve contracts, then expand to the more-complex engagements that do involve contracts. Note that this complexity of multiple organizations in contracts is a key distinction between two Advanced Performance-Competence-based certifications, certified Project Manager (IPMA-USA’s IPMA-C) and certified Senior Project Manager (IPMA-USA’s IPMA-B).

Engagements Not Involving Contracts
Many engagements are intended for internal implementation, and do not significantly rely on proposals and contracts. In these projects, the actions that take place in the window of opportunity between inspiration and the beginning of Requirements elicitation are primary factors of success. For example, we’ve shown for years that the first 10% of any project or program’s effort is responsible for 90% of its success. Continue reading

A Rainbow of Different Purposes for Your PMO

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

In the previous post about PMOs, Program or Project Management Offices, we discussed the different flavors of PMOs, and made an assertion that everyone has one, but some are informal, rather than formal. And, the informal ones can be at least as effective as the formal ones. In this post, we discuss the different purposes of your PMO. Once again, as a reminder: what brings this topic to our blog was the IPMA-USA-supported November 8-10 PMO Symposium, in Atlanta Georgia. We hope you attended!

PMO Purposes
This summary list of purposes, functions and services for your Program or Project Management Office (PMO) is from ProjectExperts’ Modular Project Management® series. I usually offer it as a coaching session for organizations that wish to establish or extend the effectiveness of their PMO. Continue reading

What Is a PMO, and What Flavor Is Yours?

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

What is a PMO?
A Project Management Office, or Program Management Office, is a formal or informal group that accepts responsibility for one or more Program/Project governance, support and/or mentoring functions, with the explicit purpose (in the best cases) of improving PM Performance.

What brings this topic to our blog at this time is IPMA-USA’s sponsorship and support for the PMO Symposium 2009, held November 8-10 in Atlanta, GA. Presented by the PMI® PMO SIG (Program Management Office Specific Interest Group), this event was one of your best opportunities this year to tap into the burgeoning world of effective PMOs. See: PMO Symposium site. Continue reading

The Elephant in the Room

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff.

In the World of Project Management, any discussion about PM Societies must consider what we call  The Other Organization (the elephant in the room). Many IPMA-USA members are also members of the other organzation. In fact, a handful of our members can take credit for helping make it the success it is today.

If it is a great, successful organization, why does the USA need IPMA-USA? We are often asked that when we staff booths at major Conferences. There are several answers. First, any discipline that is dominated by just one strong provider is a discipline that is in decline. Part of the reason we started IPMA-USA was to increase the rate of advancements in Program and Project Management that slowed during the 1990’s.

Second, we saw the need for Advanced PM certifications, that actually assess and certify Project and Program Performance. This initiative has taken our volunteers three years to deliver. The good news, by the end of 2009, the entire suite of Advanced, Performance-Competence-based certifications of Project Manager, Senior Project Manager and Program Manager will be available. There are more reasons why the USA needed IPMA-USA. But they will be the subject for some later posting. Continue reading