Zen Project Management

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Are You Experimenting?

Zen Project Management

I came across another interesting idea in Change By Design. It was presented as Toyota's ideas around training and had 4 principles: There is no substitute for direct observation Proposed changes should always be structured as experiments Workers and managers should experiment as frequently as possible Managers should coach, not fix This idea of experimenting caught my attention. So often as I'm designing a solution for a customer, they want to try to get the perfect solution first time out of the box. When they don't know what perfect is, they struggle to make decisions. No direct observation.

2016 80
2016 80

Divergence and Convergence

Zen Project Management

There's another idea from Tim Brown's Change by Design I thought was worth writing about. It's the idea of divergence and convergence. Early in a design project (or any project), we want to collect lots of ideas. This is divergence.creating lots of possible choices. Linus Pauling , winner of 2 Nobel prizes, stated "To have a good ide, you must first have lots of ideas." If you're writing user stories, don't try to limit story creation. Just because a story is written doesn't mean it will be delivered but if it's never written it definitely won't be delivered. This sounds like a spike to me.

Design the Poster

Zen Project Management

Anyone that's been around Agile for a while has probably heard of the Design the Box exercise. The idea is to help the team define and understand the product vision. I'm getting near the end of a project. We've had some challenges in terms of making the right decisions on scope. This has manifested itself in completing user stories only to have the business team say "I know that's what I asked for, but I don't think it's right." We didn't do a Design the Box at the start of the project. These posters are 2x3 feet, have a logo and the tool name on the top, and more information below.

Tom Peters and Soft Skills

Zen Project Management

I recently had the opportunity to hear Tom Peters speak and I have to say that even at the age of 71, he still has a lot of energy and passion. He began the talk with his experience coming out of college with an engineering degree. He found the math and science classes did little to prepare him for the real world, the people part of the equation, or the “all important last 99%” of being successful. It’s the soft skills that are hard, the people and relationship skills but that’s not what is the focus of education. From here, he shared some other pieces of wisdom Politics is life, relish it.

2014 63

Managing The Project Budget - Developing Your Project Management Skills

This eBook describes the process of managing the project budget and its associated costs.

How to Measure Value

Zen Project Management

Agile is about delivering value, so it is important to understand the value you are delivering within an iteration or release. However, I seen many teams that focus on how many story points they deliver but not really thinking about the value of those story points. So are there ways to measure value? The answer is, of course there is. One way would be to use the Planning Poker approach, but instead of estimating the effort for each story you can estimate the value of the story. Then you would go through and assign values to each of the remaining features or user stories relative to that one.

Trying New Things

Zen Project Management

Over the past weekend I went ice climbing with my son. He is a pretty serious climber and I've picked it up because of him, but neither of us have ever ice climbed before. We went to a place near Cedar Falls Iowa that ices down a grain silo. It's really different from the sport climbing we've done, but it was fun and by the end of the climbing day, I was able to make it to the top of the silo.

2014 48

Time for a Demo?

Zen Project Management

When I first learned Scrum , the idea was to have 30-day (4 week) iterations with a demo at the end of each iteration. Today I see teams that have iterations from 1 to 4 weeks, or in the case of Kanban, no iterations at all. So the question is, how often should there be a demo? I’m a believer of getting sign off on a user story once it's done. This usually comes from the person who wrote it, who may be a proxy to the product owner. So the questions is, If it’s a short iteration, does it make sense to have a more formal demo of the stories? I think in some cases the answer is “no.” Kanban scru

2015 37

Design, Agile, and Gall's Law

Zen Project Management

The topic of design has been crossing my path lately. I see a lot of overlap with Agile principles. One of the principles I came across is called Gall’s law. It states that "all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked.” It was introduced by John Gall in his book Systematics in 1975. This is very similar to the Agile principle of simplicity. It can be seen in the practice of Test Driven Development. You write your test case and only code until it passes the test and then you stop. No gold-plating here. agile Gall's Law Lean Startup MVP

2015 31

Top 5 Project Management Report Templates

These FREE most popular templates will help you perform your role more efficiently.

PMI Global Congress Wrap-up

Zen Project Management

I'm at the Orlando airport, departing from this year's PMI North America Global Congress. I've attended at least part of every North America congress since 1999, and even a few of the ones in Europe. While I did enjoy it, this year's was definitely not among my favorites. I missed the first day's activities due to a personal commitment. I heard mixed/negative reviews of the opening keynote, Drew and Jonathan Scott, HGTV's Property Brothers. When past keynotes have included Malcolm Gladwell or Colin Powell, I can see how this year might be a bit of a letdown.

2015 31

Agile2014 - Soft Skill Presentations

Zen Project Management

Three of my favorite presentations at Agile2014 were on soft skills; Diana Larsen’s Best Job Ever , Lyssa Adkin’s Facilitating Intense Conversations , and Jean Tabaka/Em Campbell-Pretty’s Creating Agile Tribes Diana Larsen was the keynote presenter on Wednesday. After a bit of dancing, she got to the presentation. Hard work can be rewarding, but there has to be a purpose behind it.

2014 39

Ready Ready

Zen Project Management

I heard the term "Ready Ready" being used at work last week. I've heard of "Done Done" but this was a new one on me. I remember the first time I heard the concept of done done. When a developer finishes coding, the story is done but not done done. There are a number of other steps that have to be completed before it is really done, that is done done. The team should come up with the definition of done at the start of a project. Typically it's things like coding is finished, unit testing was completed successfully, and the story was accepted by the author. Do you have a definition?

2016 24

Personal Design Thinking

Zen Project Management

I'm currently reading the book Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel. The book takes a look at Design Thinking and applying it to your own life. It is based on the success that the author has had as a product designer. The book takes you through a four-step process; Deconstruction, Point of View, Reconstruction, and Expression. It's really just a mind map that you're trying to create.

Minimal Viable Product

Zen Project Management

I have a customer with a challenge. We've been working on an application and finished our first release. The business folks looked at it and came up with a list of "must-have's" they want before going live. The IT folks are pushing back, trying to keep additional work to a minimum before going to production. They even threw out the phrase "minimal viable product" or MVP as a way say what's the least that can be done. However, MVP isn't about doing the least amount of work and calling it done. When taken in context of Lean Startup , it's part of a process. Are you ready for your next step?

2015 24

7 project management tips

How to manage projects within a fragmented workforce

10/10/10

Zen Project Management

There's an interesting decision making technique that I came across in the book Decisive. It's called 10/10/10. The technique was developed by Suzy Welch. She has a book by the same name. The idea is to think about how you will feel about a decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. The idea being discussed in Decisive is how to avoid short-term emotion when making a decision. Bad decisions, they say, are made while having strong emotions such as anger or greed. For example, I recently bought a new car, what a lot of people would agree can be an emotional event. decision making Decisive

2015 24
2015 24

What's Keeping me Busy

Zen Project Management

I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of things that keep me busy when I’m not doing my day job. Podcasts Note to Self - I recently started listening to this one and find it very engaging. The topics are around how technology fits into our lives. I find Manoush Zomorodi entertaining and informative. Design Matters - This one isn’t really about design as much as it’s about how people got to where they are. Debbie Millman has been doing this podcast for over 10 years and each episode is an interview with someone somehow related to design. Clockwise fits the bill.

2016 17
2016 17

Agile 2014 - Final Thoughts

Zen Project Management

A number of themes surfaced during Agile2014. One of the big themes was scaling agile. There were a number of presentations on the SAFe model , Discipled Agile (DAD) and the new framework by Jeff Sutherland. There was also a lot of discussion on how Spotify scaled agile (be sure to download the paper). I appreciated the opportunity to hear about DAD from the creators, Scott Ambler and Mark Lines. Mark gave a presentation on how this framework was implemented at Panera Bread. The next day, Scott provided more details on their framework. There are no best practices. Experiment. Fail fast.

2014 24
2014 Agile 24

Eliminate Death Marches

Zen Project Management

This is part 2 of a 12 part series on the Principles of Agile Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. Another challenge for people new to agile is this idea about welcoming change late in the project. It's not that they don't expect changes, it's the approach taken to deal with it. Usually there is a Byzantine approach that involves change review boards, change request forms and impact assessments. But there's more than this. It comes down to education on backlog management and time boxing.

2014 24

Project Management Processes - Developing Your Project Management Skills

This free eBook will help you to identify the appropriate project management process to apply at any point in your own project.

Empathy and the Sponsored User

Zen Project Management

Empathy is an important attribute in Design Thinking. In order to solve our customer's problems, we really need to understand them. We need to walk in their shoes. But there's a limit to how far we can take this. We can spend hours talking to an astronaut, but we will never truly understand what it's like to walk in space. Agile has this idea of the Product Owner, but you don't see much written in agile about empathy. One approach that can help you get past the empathy hurdle mentioned above is to find a key user (or users) to be part of your team. design thinking empathy MVP

Agile 15
Agile 2016 15

Tools

Zen Project Management

When I was young, I had a riding lawn mower. We had a big yard out in the suburbs and the riding mower made the job quicker. Today I live closer to downtown in a house with a smaller yard. I’m currently using an old fashion reel mower…no motor, just foot power to make it work. For the yard I have, it’s all I need. With all the technology around us, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest thing.

2015 19

The System Shall.

Zen Project Management

I’m currently working with a client that is adopting agile, which really means there are people around that have done agile, but it’s not widespread nor is anyone on my particular project experienced with agile. As is common in these situations, I’ve gone through at different points to try to help them develop their agile mindset. My developers are well-versed in agile, but the client is acting as the product owner, so their understanding of agile is important to project success. Before my team started development, the client started working on a “requirements document.”

2015 17

Lean Climbing

Zen Project Management

I’m on my way to Colorado for a weekend of outdoor adventures, climbing and mountain biking. As I was looking over the route for the climb (Kelso’s Ridge up Torrey’s Peak and a possible double with Gray’s Peak) I remembered an article I recently read on applying the principles of lean climbing to business ( here ). I’ve done a couple 14ers before, so this will be my third and maybe fourth, all with my son. We plan on being lean on this climb. Enough water and food, but not much more. Our timebox is getting down the mountain before the afternoon thunderstorms.

Lean 17

Project Manager's Guide to Getting Things Done

9 tips on how to manage your team’s workload.

Morning Routines

Zen Project Management

I’ve come across a number of articles lately that have talked about the importance of a good morning routine (like this one ), so I have been trying to practice some of these techniques. One practice is to start the day with meditation, not checking any electronic devices. I'll admit, sometimes when I'm working from home I'll turn on the TV while making my morning coffee before heading up to the office, but I don't start responding to email first thing in the morning. Another recommendation is to journal. Journaling can help you figure out where to start your day.

2015 17
2015 17

Empathy Mapping

Zen Project Management

I ran an exercise at the beginning of a new project last week; Empathy Mapping. This is part of an overall approach of using Design Thinking along with agile development. The idea to empathy mapping is to get to understand your users. You would do this mapping for your main users for your product or the problem you're trying to solve. For each role, give them a name to personify it more.

Agile2014 - Day 1

Zen Project Management

Yesterday was the first full day of Agile2014. In general it was a pretty good day. The original keynote speaker, Aneesh Chopra, apparently had to cancel. His replacement, Sam Guckenheimer, provided an overview of Microsoft's journey to agile. It was an ok case study with some interesting information, but it wasn't a motivational keynote to get us all charged up. Talking to some of the organizers later, I found out they made a conscious decision not to pay for a headliner keynote speaker. Everything from is TDD dead? (it it isn't) to budgeting around technical debt. agile agile2014

2014 17

Agile Principles - Working Together

Zen Project Management

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. One of the challenges I often face when I start working with a new client that has not been following agile is the amount of time expected from their business people. Their approach has always been that the business people meet with business analyst (BA), tell them what they want, and come back 9 months later to see what got built. I have to explain that agile doesn’t work this way and that in order to be successful, we want to have access to the business throughout the project. There’s another factor at work here.

2014 17
2014 Agile 17

Secrets of an Elite Project Manager

Fast track your way to the top by learning the secrets of the trade from three top project management experts.

Principles of Agile, Part 1

Zen Project Management

This is part 1 of a 12 part series on the Principles of agile I've been working on a big project and as the project has grown, I've been thinking about how Agile is supposed to work and how my project is following (or in some cases not following) the principles that are part of agile. For this first article, I'm going to talk about Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. One thing I notice when I first start working with clients that are new to agile is their Big Bang mindset. This is always more than a single conversation.

2014 17

Balance

Zen Project Management

I haven't had much of a chance to write any posts lately. I've been on a project that has left me little time for other things, but on this Sunday I decided to take a step back. There was a learning in Daniel Pink's The Adventures of Johnny Bunko ; "persistence triumphs talent." I had a boss that taught me this early in my consulting career, that putting in your 40 hours of billable time wasn't enough. It's the consultant that goes back to their hotel room at night and keeps working that is the one to get ahead. But where's the balance? Is there such a thing? So if you're at work, work hard.

2014 17

Design Thinking and Constraints

Zen Project Management

I've been reading the book Change by Design by Tim Brown. It's part of my overall interest in design in general. I have found a number of interesting ideas in the book so far, and I'm not even half way through it. One concept had to do with constraints. Anyone that has worked much on projects know that constraints are a big part of it. He talks about three aspects of constraint; feasibility, desirability, and viability. Feasibility is looking at whether or not something can be done in the near future. Viability is looking at whether or not it's sustainable from a business model perspective.

Better Decision Making

Zen Project Management

I started reading the book Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath. They have a couple other books I've read, including Switch and Made to Stick , so I thought I'd give this a try. I'm only about a quarter through the book, but so far, I am enjoying it. It's easy to read and has some good examples to support the ideas. The book is about how to make better decisions. For example, they talk about the "whether or not" type decision. One example was Quaker Oats buying Snapple in 1994. Quaker Oats did buy Snapple and it turned out to be a mistake. The acquisition failed.

Agile Adoption: Decreasing Time to Market

This Refcard is focused on helping you evaluate and choose the practices for your team or organization when getting to market faster is of prime importance.

Boosting PMO's with Lean Thinking

LeadingAnswers

Lean Thinking, described and popularized in the book “Lean Thinking” by James Womack and Daniel Jones, is summarized as: “focusing on delivering the most value from a customer perspective, while reducing waste and fully utilizing the skills and knowledge of those doing the work”.   Lean Thinking embodies a wide range of principles and techniques. It’s about people first. O verproduction.

Lean 119

The Business Analyst and the Product Owner

LeadingAnswers

In my last article we talked about the role of the BA on agile projects , reviewing what stays the same and what changes from traditional approaches. In this article, we will review the contentious topic of how the role of the BA varies and overlaps with the Product Owner (PO).   The Product Owner (PO). First, let’s make sure we understand the role of the Product Owner (PO).

2017 128

Can Project Management Transform Our World?

IPMA

In September 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. Each target has a set of indicators to follow up on achievement. The UN Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) number one ambition is to end poverty.

2017 76

7 Essential Project Management Skills for 2017

The Digital Project Manager

If you’ve started the year and committed to upping your project management skills to be a better project manager, what project management skills are the. The post 7 Essential Project Management Skills for 2017 appeared first on The Digital Project Manager. Features General

2017 119
2017 119

The Third Wave of Agile

The third wave of Agile is here!