Project Management

Lean in Food Processing 0

Jerry Rosenthal started on his process improvement journey where he entered the world of medical device and worked with such companies like Cardinal Health. Jerry RosenthalJerry’s expertise is primarily in regulated environments such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical production and packaging. Jerry has been successful at taking principles and tools from manufacturing and applying them to a commercial business practice, and he does that at Lean Six Sigma Expert.

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Project Managing Flash-Mobs 0

The Optimization Triangle: leadership, project management, and individual learning is how Lou Russell  views the type of  work she does at Russell Martin & Associates.  I enjoy her project management books (I own 3 of them) and her Accelerated Learning Workbook (yes, I have that one) and recommend them. She recently sent me a leadership book that I have in my to read pile. I am really intrigued to read the final leg of the stool.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Leadership, Projects, Learning

In our recent podcast, I asked Lou about her project management books.

Lou Russell: Let me do the disclaimer – we are PMI education providers, so we are completely and fully aligned to the project management body of knowledge – OK, there we go, that’s done – but it’s too much. I used to teach IT project management when dinosaurs roamed up 69, but mostly for IT people, and we kind of got in this space of teaching project management in the last five years to people who never meant to be project managers, and they don’t know what happened. Like, how did they end up being project managers, and everyone is doing projects now, because we’re all multi-tasking so much.

That’s kind of interesting – we describe projects nowadays as flash-mobs. The flash-mob people come together through some kind of virtual communication for a very specific purpose. They arrive, they converge in, they do a thing, and then they fade out divergent to the crowd. This is exactly how we’re running projects in large companies and all companies right now. You converge for a one-hour meeting, you pick up and you go to your next one-hour meeting. It’s very frustrating, and nobody is getting anything done. What if we step back from that and say, “Hey, if we were creating a project management process, Lean, let’s say, for flash-mobs what it would look like. I like that metaphor to help, now we’re talking about simplifying minimal. We have been in that space – that’s worked out really well for us. “Bad news early is good news,” is one of our mantras. You seek to communicate, because that’s the only thing that will save you. Don’t seek to control or you’re dead. There’s no control. There’s no ego, or your project is dead.

Last week, I was speaking at Project World in Seattle, and I was doing a project scheduling lab – and people were supposed to be bringing in their project and normal stuff – and all of a sudden, in come these eight people, and they’re all from Boeing, and they’re all PMPs, and they’re all in IT, and they’re all building some innovative aircraft, you know what I mean? I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do – I’m going to sit down and you’re going to teach me scheduling.” I was completely intimidated, I was like – you guys are you kidding me – and they go, “No. We need to hear this. We need to simplify.”

We have new traction in IT of all places, where the most complex is complex, and nothing is getting done. So, there’s interest there. The other big push in project management right now is – how do we train executives to sponsor well? What an excellent question that is. Right?

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Focused Performance 0

Jump start your 2015 business planning. Russell Martin & Associates has created The Focused Performance Bundle. The package includes everything you need to facilitate the planning sessions with your team. lou russell

Once you know where you want to go and where you don’t want to go in 2015, start brainstorming initiatives that will take you there.  It’s likely that each of these initiatives will generate multiple projects.  How do you pick which projects to do?  How do you prioritize the work over all four quarters of 2015 without adding so much project work that it’s impossible to focus on any of it?  Prioritization allows you to pick the projects you can charter utilizing a project sponsor and project manager who drive a project schedule for accountability.

Type Biz901 in the Promo Code at Checkout
See What You Get (Ltd Time Offer).

Lou Russell is the CEO of Russell Martin & Associates and L+earn, an executive consultant, speaker, and author whose passion is to create growth in companies by guiding the growth of their people. In her speaking, training, and writing, Lou draws on 30 years of experience helping organizations achieve their full potential. She is committed to inspiring improvement in all three sides of what she has dubbed the Optimization Triangle: leadership, project management, and individual learning.

Lou was a great guest and I am sure you will enjoy the podcast.

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Forming a Quality Group 0

This is the last in series of interviews that I had with Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting. We have covered subjects from Trystoming to Value Stream Mapping.

A complete list:

One of the things Bob is most proud of and enjoys the most is the group of quality people that he collaborates with in his place of residence, Charlotte, NC. He discusses the start of this group and a few of the struggles they went through during the formation.

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What knowledge are you supposed to capture? 0

Do you capture everything?

Is everything a lesson learned?

How do you decide what you need to capture for the closeout?

I asked Mel Bost a Principal Consultant in BOT International’s PMO Practice who specializes in PMO best practices, project lessons learned, and program management those questions in a past podcast, Related Podcast and Transcription:  Learning in Project Management.

Mel:                 That’s a good question. I’m writing this book which is going to be out shortly. In my blog, I talk about this process in capturing and documenting lessons learned. Really, what I’m defining there is what I call significant events. A significant event is something where you may have a major deviation between expected result and actual result. That would probably be easy for a project manager to sit down with his project team and list 50 things that ought to be improved. I say take the top 5 or 10 where you’ve had a significant deviation between expected and actual result. Focus on those 5 or 10, if you’re able to do that, you’ve got the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the value to be gained is probably in the first five or six lessons learned significant events that you identify. The rest of them trail off very quickly, but there can be a lot of things.

If an organization has a robust risk management plan in place, they are 90 percent of the way toward having a lessons learned process. They’ve already defined some potential risks. If those risks get triggered in a project and they have a mitigation plan, they’ve already identified some significant events. The definition of risk and carrying that out for a project, having that risk identified, and if it’s triggered, if it’s significant and you’ve got a mitigation plan, that ought to go right at the top of the list of lessons learned. When you say how do you know, what do you need to capture all the knowledge? I’d say pick the top 5 or 10 lessons learned, something where you had a major deviation between expected and actual result.

Joe:                  My next question is how do you share that knowledge? How is that shared so that knowledge is made explicit to other people?

Mel:                 Different organizations have handled that in different ways. Certainly some of the larger organizations, we have, especially the large oil companies have put knowledge management systems into place. Even companies like Schlumberger, which is an oilfield service organization, they were one of the first companies to put together a knowledge management system where they actually go in and put it into a database. Depending on how sophisticated the organization is, I’ve even seen a couple instances in NASA where organizations have developed what they call a knowledge-based risk. In other words, they’re using their knowledge database to inform their risk managers of previous project problems before the initiate a new project. I think it’s up to, once again, the individual organization.

In the case of ConocoPhillips, when I worked there, one of the first things we tried to do was to have a breakfast forum among our project managers and invite some of the project managers who were just completing projects to talk about lessons learned. We videotaped those, and we put them into a SharePoint system, so anybody goes out and look at those. We promoted that to all our project managers, especially those who were going to initiate a new project that was similar to one that had just been completed. Today, we have a project server system out there from Microsoft project that incorporates a lot of that and allows capture of lessons learned.

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A Project Charter, You Gotta Be Kidding Me 0

I was thrilled to have Lou Russell  of RMA Associates as my guest next week on the podcast.  She is a project management guru who cut her teeth in Accelerated Learning. In fact, she wrote the book,The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook: Making the Instructional Process Fast, Flexible, and Fun. Tune in to find the connection.

An excerpt from the podcast on her thoughts about Project Charters:

Lou Russell: One of the other things I think is just mystifying to me is that everybody, when left to their own devices, will skip project charter, skip it completely, and just do a schedule, because we have software for that. But we really don’t have the software for project charters – I guess we have templates, but it’s not cool enough – it doesn’t have, like, software. So, that means it mustn’t matter. Well, the project charter defines why you’re spending money on this project instead of something else. It gives you the whole reason for being of the project, and you skip it and build a schedule that’s supposed to actually be right? How can it be right? You don’t even know what you’re doing. That makes me crazy. That’s one of my little blasphemous pet-peeves, sorry.

Joe: I think you hit a very good point, because when you read any project management book, though they are discussing scope and charter, you are sitting there just waiting to get started.

Lou: Let’s go. Let’s build stuff.

Joe: That’s the feeling you get. What I like about your Project Manager for Trainers, OK – I mean, I love that book, because it’s very much, “Do it!” You know, here’s a charter, but do it.

Lou: Given that you’ve had the proper conversations, so let’s put that on the table – given that you’ve managed to capture long enough to get the need – basically, the project charter should take less than 45 minutes – it’s a draft. It’s always a draft. There’s no way you can build a final project charter before you’ve started the project. You don’t know what’s going on. It’s going to evolve. It’s an organic, evolving thing, as is the plan, and if neither of those are evolving – I know someone right now is having cardiac arrest about this – “You’re supposed to control a project!” No, you can’t. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the business. Anyway, if it isn’t changing, then no one needs that project – you should be cancelling it right now.

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What Type of Individual Manages A Project Better 0

I asked MICHAEL SINGER DOBSON, a marketing executive, project management consultant and nationally-known speaker; “In all your experiences, is there a certain type of individual that manages a project better? To me there always seem that if you get the right guy heading the project, it gets done.”

Michel has been a staff member of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, award-winning game designer, and career counselor in his varied career. My favorite book of Michael’s, out of twenty or so he wrote, is Creative Project Management.

An excerpt from the Podcast and Transcription: Impossible Projects

Michael:   Yes, absolutely. But the right guy does vary project to project. There are projects in which say construction, nice classical project. The discipline, I am there’s a lot to be discipline. I don’t mean to trivialize it in any way, shape or form. It’s understood as a discipline. If you want to master it, you can master it. The mind-set is highly organized, forceful and detail oriented. You get somebody running R&D projects in the game business, since I’m familiar with that, what you need is somebody who’s out of the box thinker. The number of tasks and the complexity of tasks are normally not great. All of the brain’s sweat, all of the effort is on that creative side and frankly Microsoft Project does relatively small amounts of good in the environment like that. It’s a very different sort of situation. It is certainly the case that you want the confident right person.

Projects vary so much that the correct answer is different. Who do you need? I mean notice somebody like Steven Spielberg still has a team of staff producers. Kathleen Kennedy, people like that, who can run all the logistics to free him up to do the things that only he can do. If I’m a project management professional in here, yes I can lead the project in the areas in which I am confident but a lot of times the help I can give you is I can help somebody else set up the organizational component for you to get that off your back. It all varies; political skills, forcefulness, persuasive ability, negotiation. I tell people all the time that the best followup for basic class and project management is a class in negotiation. I mean, project managers are basically all blanche du bois; we rely on the kindness of strangers.

By the definition of a project, it’s something outside the normal routine. So, it’s mostly the case that a large part of your team are not people who report to you in some formal standard supervisory sense because the project is of limited duration, it will end and those resources would have to be released to somebody else. In most cases it’s true, if you’ve got a job to do, it’s almost always the case that you cannot possibly get it done without the willing and essentially voluntary cooperation of people over whom you have no direct official power or control and I know you’ve been there to, I’m sure.

Joe:          Oh, I’ve always been very convinced. It’s not about having the best idea. It’s about what can get implemented. Not the best idea always can be implemented.

Michael:   Absolutely. Politics is very simple. I have a test if you have office politics in the organization. It’s very simply. You do a head count, number exceeds 3; you’ve got it because people do not check their humanity, self-interests of goals at the door when they punched in to go to work. It never has been the case, never will be the case. If you can’t work with that, your effectiveness as project manager is going to be incredibly limited.

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