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The Three ‘Ins’ That Are Putting Our Projects behind Schedule

It was the short week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and I had time to think while stuck in traffic between Seattle and Portland. Somewhere around Centralia, (Yes, that’s really what it’s called, and it really is about halfway.) it occurred to me that I’ve been seeing some common themes lately. Call them the three “ins”: indecision, inactivity, and indifference. Each takes a toll on one or more tasks, adding delays and uncertainty, forcing …

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How to Be More Forward-Thinking in Your Project Decisions

Projects involve a constant stream of decisions. Some decisions are quick and easy. Others are difficult, take lots of time, and have significant impact. Let’s look at three decision models that can help you be more forward-thinking in your project decisions. Few project managers think deeply enough about how their project decisions will be made. Using the wrong decision models results in weak decisions that often change later, in turn resulting in adverse impacts to …

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Problem Management Is Like Watering Plants

I can remember the first place I lived in on my own without roommates. A friend dropped off a potted palm tree as a housewarming gift. They said, “It will make your place look better, more lived in.” I shrugged and placed it in a spot where it would get loads of light. In the first few months I took good care of the plant, watering it and providing regular doses of fertilizer and so …

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Managing Globally Distributed Project Teams

I started managing projects that included team members or customers outside the US in the mid-‘90s. In the beginning, it was one other country. Then two, and so on. These days, working with globally distributed project teams is my norm. A typical project will include people spread across five to 30 countries, three to five continents, and from three to seven time zones. As you would expect, it’s very different from managing a few folks …

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Feedback Loop: If They Don’t Think You Care, They Won’t Care Either

We have all been there before at some point or another: In an effort to understand the business, we solicit information from them in a “how are we doing” button or survey. The trouble that may present itself is that, while we are working to improve things from a delivery perspective, we may not have fully built out a strategy to manage the lifecycle of the feedback. Here are a few points to consider, but …

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Practical Advice for Project Managers

I’ve been managing projects for about 30 years or so, far longer than I’ve been writing about it. Along the way, I’ve collected a few useful thoughts that never made it into an article or blog post or book. At first, I was just jotting notes on paper. Then I took to creating short text files, saved to a folder. The last few years, I’ve been using OneNote to capture those fleeting thoughts. Here are …

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Our Favorite Method to Watch Our Projects Fail

All want to succeed The reality of projects is that some projects do fail. That is unfortunate. Of course, projects can fail for multiple reasons. Each project is unique and has its own context. Whole books can be written on the topic. It is an interesting topic. Failures can be the best mentor in life. Organizations do sincerely want to complete their projects successfully. After all, they are the one approving these projects. They invest …

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How You Can Improve Business Support

While on a support call recently, I had the misfortune of suffering through long hold times, dreary music, and being transferred from person to person with no end in sight. While I waited I had plenty of time to think about what could be done better not just for this experience, but also from my own perspective to improve interactions with my own business. Listen More, Speak Less First, start by listening to your business—really …

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Risk Response Strategies: Transfer or Avoid the Danger

As I’ve noted in other articles, a risk is an uncertainty that matters. Some event has a significant probability of occurring, and there will be a significant consequence if it does. A risk represents a threat, and a wise project team endeavors to identify project threats and analyze them for effective strategies, so that the probability of occurrence can be reduced or the consequences reduced. Or both. Of Mice and Risk Management Consider the following …

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How to Identify Risks with a SWOT Analysis

Project managers can use several tools to identify project risks, including interviews, brainstorming, checklists, assumption analysis, cause-and-effect diagrams, the nominal group technique, and affinity diagrams. One of my favorite techniques is the SWOT analysis, where you and your team can identify and prioritize strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you’ve completed the SWOT analysis, you will have identified opportunities (positive risks) and threats (negative risks), inputs for your risk register. The information can help you …

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