Zen Project Management

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.

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.

2016 65

Trending Sources

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.

2016 52

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.

2014 63

Task Management For Project Managers

How can project planning that stretches over months or years remain relevant and account for new ad-hoc activities that arrive every day?

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.

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.

2014 50

The Canvas Strategy

Zen Project Management

I’m making my way through the Tim Ferris' book Tools of Titans. It’s well over 600 pages but it has a lot of useful, interesting advice, though I'll admit some of it is a bit out there. He breaks the book up into three areas; Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. The book is really just a summary of podcasts done over the years with some other advice added in. One piece of advice I appreciated is what he called the canvas strategy. The idea really came from Ryan Holiday.

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.

2015 38

Managing The Project Budget - Developing Your Project Management Skills

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

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.

2015 32

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.

2014 40

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.

2015 32

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.

2016 25

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.

Agile 25

Top 5 Project Management Report Templates

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

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.

2015 25

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.

2015 25

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.

2014 25

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.

2016 18

Mixing Qualitative & Quantitative Data with Storyboarding

Speaker: Tristan Kromer, Lean Agile Coach, Kromatic

Qualitative vs. Quantitative is a silly argument. Qualitative data from UXers should not compete against the quantitative data product owners need for their business model. Both are necessary to have a complete understanding of where the desirability of the product meets the viability of the business.

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.

2014 25

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.

2015 21

The Bullet Journal

Zen Project Management

I started something new in February, a bullet journal. I've played with different tools to help me keep organized and remember stuff, and this is my latest.

2017 11

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.

2015 18

Creating the "Right" Product Roadmap With Data

Speaker: Sunil Parekh, Head of Product Management, SimplyInsured

Data can be qualitative or quantitative, and comes from multiple sources: customer interviews, product usage & funnel analytics, company financial performance, and internal stakeholders. How do you use that data to create a product roadmap that is aligned with your organization’s business needs?

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.

Lean 18

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.

2015 18

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.

2014 18

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.

2014 18

7 project management tips

How to manage projects within a fragmented workforce

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.

2014 18

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.

2014 18

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.

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.

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.

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.

PMI Conference observations

Zen Project Management

The PMI Conference was held this past weekend in Chicago. They've changed the format a bit and even changed the name to reflect the changes. When I first started attending almost 20 years ago, it was the PMI Symposium, then Global Congress and now the PMI Conference. They had 3 different keynote speakers (though I only saw 2 of them), one each day.

Red Teaming

Zen Project Management

One of the things we talk about at work is eliminating group think and an approach to do this is using red teaming. For those not familiar with the term, red team comes from the military and originally stood for a team that represented the opposition. It has since expanded to include any team that might challenge the status quo.aka, group think. So how does this apply to the agile world? Even agile teams can get stuck in group think. A great example is during story estimating.

Debriefs

Zen Project Management

I’m working on a new assignment as part of an agile coaching team leading a transformation at a large organization. One of my fellow coaches is also a former Navy officer. We’ve had a number of conversations about how many of the techniques developed by the military can be applied to make any team a high-performing one. One particular tool is debriefing. I’ll admit, I didn’t do a lot of this in my military career, but the idea is to take time after any activity to review how it went.

Project Manager's Guide to Getting Things Done

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