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Overcoming Firefighting Mode in Your Organization

Research has documented the value of project management at various levels and in a variety of organizations. In the research study Researching the Value of Project Management by Janice Thomas, Ph.D. and Mark Mullaly, PMP, the researchers found that in both public and private organizations there were measurable improvements in productivity and business outcomes. Well-executed project management, which fits within the culture of the organization, creates repeatable processes that can lead to sustainable innovation through ever-improving efficiency. …

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Project Governance Sounds Important—But What Does It Actually Look Like?

Governance is a buzzword that naturally sounds like something pretty relevant, maybe because it reminds us of government or of the verb to govern. However, many people would find it difficult to explain what governance is in practical terms. On an organisational level, most of us may see governance as a board of directors making difficult and strategic decisions aiming to make the business successful. That is not wrong, but governance also involves processes and …

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The Power of Questions: Is Your Question an Invitation, Request, or Weapon?

The power of questions—your questions—can either make or break your career. Questions have the power to create teams in a collaborative way… or crumble them. They are, in part, a good reason why you may be able to recover from a hostage situation. Questions can even help you win over a sticky situation at home. Why are some of us not skilled in the art of asking questions, much less asking the right questions? Do you remember when you …

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Control Your Project Using the OODA Loop

Have you heard of a tool called the OODA loop? While the tool itself was created based on military fighter pilot observations and is now often used to train law enforcement, it has applications for use in business and personal life as well. Here we will discuss the applications of the OODA loop in business, and more specifically, in managing projects. First of all, OODA stands for this: Observe Orient Decide Act The concept of …

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How Can I Realize Benefits If I Don’t Manage Change?

Whenever we talk about benefits realization, we start from the idea that (we) project managers are always managing part of an organizational change. Such changes are expected to enable our organization to achieve at least a business objective that generates value. This whole process of getting from the current situation to the future improved or optimized situation is what we call a benefits realization lifecycle. However, now and then people come to me in events …

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Case Study: Portfolio Scoring Model—Western European Pharma

Company assets were in dozens of billions of dollars in 2012 whereas its income was measured in billions of dollars. Despite an overall strong position of the organization, the executives of the company were somewhat concerned with a slow growth in revenues (4-8% per year) and net income (1-3% per year). Consequently, they felt that the company was falling behind the competition and, in the long term, in danger of losing the leading position in …

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No More Limits! Why WIP Targets Are Better for Improving Team Performance

For decades now, the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering communities—and especially Lean and Theory of Constraints (TOC) practitioners—have preached the importance of limiting “work in progress,” or WIP, in order to improve flow in a process or system. The conceptual foundation for such WIP limits is known as “Little’s Law,” named after John Little for having provided the first proof of the theorem back in 1961. In order to boost the throughput of a system, Little’s Law asserts …

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Over 30 Years of Hacking—and No Improvements on the Horizon

It is 31 years ago that Cliff Stoll discovered a hacker tunneling into US government networks by passing through his computers at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Stoll was asked to clear up a billing discrepancy, discovered the German hacker who was working for the KGB, and alerted the US government managers of the networks that the hacker was targeting. He later wrote about it in The Cuckoo’s Egg, which remains an excellent read. Unfortunately, Stoll did better …

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Measuring and Managing Customer Profitability

The only value a company will ever create for its shareholders and owners is the value that comes from its customers—current ones and new ones acquired in the future. To remain competitive, companies must determine how to keep customers longer, grow them into bigger customers, make them more profitable, serve them more efficiently, and acquire more profitable customers. But there’s a problem with pursuing these ideals. Customers increasingly view suppliers’ products and standard service lines …

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The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO – How to Run a Successful PMO

Despite what you might read in the news, or hear at the water cooler, there’s a growing demand for information on building a PMO (project management office). Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to share my perspectives on this topic based on my book The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO. It has been a fantastic opportunity; people have enjoyed the presentation and have told me they now have some “amazing takeaways” …

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