Zen Project Management

Illusions

Zen Project Management

I am still reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow , and I came across an interesting quote People can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. He used the example of stock traders, who think they are successful in picking stocks even though evidence points otherwise. Two out of three mutual funds underperform the overall market in any given year.

2005 90

Henry Ford and Design Thinking

Zen Project Management

By LibertyGroup25 (Own work) Henry Ford pioneered many of the ideas that are now commonplace in business, including ideas used in Design Thinking. He has been quoted as saying "If you ask people what they want, it would be a faster horse." This hits on the design thinking principle of divergence.

2016 185

Priming

Zen Project Management

I'm working on the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics. As you might guess, the book is about how the brain works, based on years of research. He talks about the mind as two systems, the first being fast and intuitive and the second being more deliberate. One of the ideas he discussing is that of Priming. Priming happens when something such as a set of words impact our thought and actions.

2018 90

Team of Teams

Zen Project Management

I recently completed the book Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal , a retired Army General and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force, operating in Iraq. It's the story of how he transformed that command in order to more effectively execute their mission. The book explores the ideas of complicated and complex. I kept thinking about the Cynefin framework , though McChrystal does not specifically mention it in the book.

2018 90

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.

2016 132

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.

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 117

Nemawashi

Zen Project Management

I am speaking this week at the Projects to the Point (P2P) conference in Cairo, Egypt. The focus of the conference is the book "How Successful Organizations Implement Change" and the speakers (myself included) each wrote one of the chapters of the book by the same title. We have an interesting approach for implementing change where I'm working, a technique call Nemawashi. It's a Japanese term that literally translates to "digging around the roots" but the meaning is much more than that.

2017 90

Managing The Project Budget - Developing Your Project Management Skills

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

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.

PMI 90

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.

2017 90

Estimating

Zen Project Management

I was flying home from a client visit last week at the airport getting ready to board the plane when the gate agent announced that the flight was gonna be delayed by ten minutes due to some unspecified mechanical issue. Ten minutes later they announcement another ten minute delay. They did this two more times. So what was going on? Did the airlines not want to admit upfront that they had a 40 minute delay so they fed the delays to us ten minutes at a time?

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.

2016 117

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.

Top 5 Project Management Report Templates

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

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 114

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 117

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 114

Stories and Maps

Zen Project Management

I conducted a user story mapping session with my client last week and it proved to be a very effective way to help them see the big picture. The idea came from Jeff Patton. You can find more about it here.

2015 117

The Business Opportunity of Embedded Analytics: New Findings from 500+ Application Teams

Speaker: Josh Martin, Director of Product Marketing, Logi Analytics

Embedded analytics has evolved from an afterthought to a necessity. But most companies don’t realize that the features they embed and how they develop have a lasting impact on revenue, customer churn, and competitive differentiation. The state of embedded analytics in 2018 is in flux. Learn from the experiences of 500+ application teams embedding analytics—including which features actually move the needle, how analytics benefits their companies, and what development approach yields the best results.

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 117

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 98

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.

2016 90

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 104

A Guide to Designing Delightful Dashboards

Speaker: Daniel O'Sullivan, Product Designer, nCino and Jeff Hudock, Senior Product Manager, nCino

We’ve all seen the increasing industry trend of artificial intelligence and big data analytics. In a world of information overload, it's more important than ever to have a dashboard that provides data that's not only interesting but actually relevant and timely. Dashboards assist decision makers facilitate new ideas and business opportunities, increase customer approval rates, and analyze current business process. All of these activities play a vital role in providing the superior experience your customers demand.

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 90

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 117

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 90

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 109

Turning Metrics into Dollars: How to Turn Your Analytics Data into a Real Financial Model for your Startup

Speaker: Tristan Kromer, Lean Agile Coach, Kromatic

Some teams struggle to constantly optimize conversion rates without understanding the financial impact of those conversion rates. Sometimes that 0.1% increase isn't worth the engineering time we're spending! Early stage startups in particular may not need a four year business plan, but they need to start building out a model which will show how they can someday be profitable. At the very least, they need to be able to see the impact of a change in retention rates to their user growth.

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.

2016 90

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 104

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 90

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 117

How Agile Approaches Change Project, Program, and Product Measures

Speaker: Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant, Rothman Consulting Group

Before agile approaches took the world by storm, we used Gantt charts and defects to measure project and program progress. We had trouble measuring product progress until just before release—often too late to change anything. Join Johanna as she discusses how agile approaches change what we measure, and possible measures you might use in projects, programs, and to assess the product as the team(s) build it.

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 109

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 90

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 90

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 90

Selling Data and Decisions to your Team

Speaker: Cait Porte, SVP Product and Customer Experience, Zmags

Gathering support for a product feature or enhancement is a critical skill for Product Managers. Talking to customers, working with key stakeholders in the business and convincing development that a feature is necessary can be a daunting task. Join Product Management expert Cait Porte as she covers how to sell your ideas internally by leveraging data to drive decision making.