Tag Archives: pmo

Rethinking Project Management and Chaos (The Butterfly Effect)


Greetings Leaders!

The Standish Institute has been publishing the Chaos Report for years which basically says that project outcomes fall short despite our best efforts to manage it. Proponents of PMI and Prince2 will debate their conclusions, and there are others out there who say that Agile is the answer to better project outcomes. While I’m a advocate of project management methodologies, perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place and the answer lies somewhere else.

When you think about life, one of the life’s truisms is that “stuff” happens. That whatever you plan for will likely not come out exactly the way you want it to. For those of you not familiar with the Butterfly Effect, it was developed by Edward Lorenz who is a big proponent of the Chaos Theory. The term comes from the suggestion that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in South America could affect the weather somewhere else in the world. Basically it is a term used to describe how small changes to a seemingly insignificant thing can affect large, complex systems. When we think about projects, there are so many things that could impact the success of a project that fall outside the general framework of project management. Perhaps successful project outcomes don’t depend upon your methodology, but on how you react to what happens?

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Evaluating Your Organization’s Project Management Effectiveness (PME)

Greetings Leaders!

As a project management expert, I often get to see first hand how an organization measures their effectiveness in project management. I find it intriguing that so many of them, don’t really understand what they are trying to measure. They just look at their list of projects and if they all get done, then they are successful. If they don’t they are not successful. Many don’t measure it at all. Measuring project management effectiveness (PME) is important, but overlooked by many. What about your organization?

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The Cloud and Project Management

The Cloud

Greetings Leaders!

The Cloud has become a hot topic in business. What is The Cloud you ask? It has its origins, I think, in the network diagrams that techies have drawn for years. You know, that weird diagram that often gets drawn on a whiteboard that depicts some computers and a server, connected to a cloud or bunch of clouds. I think that is techie talk for magic… or… trust me, there is some cool stuff in there. So what is The Cloud and how will it impact Project Management in the future?

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What Good Project Managers Do…

Greetings Leaders!

In an effort to stay relevant and useful to my clients, I often ask myself “what value am I adding to the projects I manage?” There are many different ways a project manager can be engaged on a project and these include:

  1. High level or strategic project managers who focus on aligning projects with business objectives and strategy.
  2. Process oriented project managers who facilitate or manage the project management processes that drive an organization’s projects. These processes include managing things like Risk, Change, Issues, Communications, the project schedule and the Project Management Office.
  3. Technical or “hands on” project managers who work with the project team to develop new designs and solutions.
  4. Senior Project Managers who ensure all the above get done on a large project.

While these rolls define “what” a project manager does to a certain extent, they don’t readily or easily illustrate “how” a project manager should go about accomplishing the task at hand. Currently, I have an awesome team of softare developers creating a new application for my client. They are obviously very technical, and not being a computer programmer myself, I sometimes think that they could get the job without me.

Invariably though, something happens which reminds me what good project managers do, and why they are a vital part of the success of any project. A good project manager asks questions. Lots of them. In today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal (A Question of Management), Carol Bartz (Yahoo’s new CEO) said the following:

We have very, very smart people. And frankly—and all of you guys out there that have a little age on you will appreciate this—all you have to do is ask questions. You just have to keep asking questions. You ask questions and guess what, they go, Oh, I never thought of that. Because it unleashes so much power in people by just asking. Why do I have to be the know-it-all? My God, I’m not that smart. But I’m smart enough to just keep asking questions and say, Is that the best you can do? Does that excite you? Will that excite the customer? Does this really have to work this way?

A good project manager asks questions. All the time. While teaching a project management class for the California Highway Patrol, I asked the question “How do you know something is true?” One of the students said that we should “Trust and Verify.” What ensued was a lively discussion that revolved around the question of the need to verify something, if the source was someone you trusted. After all, if you really trusted someone, why would you need to verify what they said? While an interesting discussion, the bottom line is that the project manager is responsible for asking enough questions, so that the project team is focused on the right things, with the right information, to arrive at the right solution.

Good project managers ask questions.

Lead With Honor,

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