My experience in project management has been in the domain of academic and research libraries and institutions. On September 27, I had the privilege of attending an Association of Research Libraries/Coalition for Networked Information forum, "Innovation in Research Libraries." It was a chance to meet with colleagues whom I've worked with in my years in academic libraries, including graduate school at LSU; my NLM stint in the late 90s; and with colleagues from the Pacific Northwest.
The kickoff speaker, Bernard Banks, referenced this Ronald Jantz article in his remarks. From Jantz's article on the need for management-led innovation: "The library focus on service quality and adherence to rules and processes is part of the culture that can limit the ability to innovate." And continuing, the author describes attributes of many academic libraries: "Resistance to a new way of doing things and perpetuating established practices. This cultural inertia typically results in incremental innovations and only minor improvements to existing services."
In the project management context, the use of agile or adaptive approaches offers promise in terms of making service development more externally-focused. The Agile Practice Guide is a good starting point for thinking through the opportunities offered by agile approaches.
I have a couple of takeaways from this meeting.
An intro speaker suggested reading this foundational article: "The project manager," written by Paul O. Gaddis, in the Harvard Business Review in 1959.
Morning keynote, Gina Schreck, on being exceptional:
Leaders need to be out front. They can't be average, mediocre (me: Lyndon Johnson on a colleague: "he's a good, mediocre senator..."). (Also, me: I hope that this isn't me.) She shared four keys:
Avoiding common pitfalls in risk management
Jan Mahar Sturdevant, PMP
Okay, this (risk management) is one of my areas of interest. We all have optimism bias (me: one takeaway).... Importance of keeping a strong knowledge base of risks to counter.
Good risk management goes unnoticed (the register and follow-up mitigation steps).
Sturdevant focused on the limits of the triple constraint, with the need for additional focus on risk, resources, and quality - with the latter being key. She also noted the need for focus on positive risk; a real-time activity that participants did in the session resulted in only negative risks being surfaced.
PMs job is to create the comfort level, which encourages team member participation, which then draws out their expertise.
ISO 31000 addresses risk effects.
Focusing on these planning processes during this session:
RBS with categories: Sturdevant recommends use of Knowledge Areas for categories, as opposed to broad areas (technical, management...).
Risk Register: Again, suggested attributes: Rank, Category from RBS, Owner (from team), Mitigation Plan, Contingency Plan.
Top 10: Attributes include Risk item; current rank; position last month; number of months; and, risk resolution progress.
I then joined a fantastic leadership session led by Kevin Ciccotti.
Scrumban for client success
Hayli Hay, PMP
Hay summarized two use cases of Scrumban, following the implementation of Scrum and the subsequent need to improve the feedback loop, as team members focused on achieving sprint goals.
Agile terms used by Hay, in context:
Agile: A methodology
Scrum: A framework
Kanban: A process
Scrumban: A methodology
"Getting to finish" was one of the work problems (leading to the shift to Agile approaches) in the use cases reported by Hay. The value of a Kanban board was demonstrated here - instead of a large number of efforts close to, but waiting for, finish, finished stories/projects are highlighted to customers and team members.
One point that Hay made at the end of the session, she termed Scrumban as "industry agnostic," though its use would need to be shaped and formed for the business setting.
Move "IT" forward with 360 degree thinking
Jimmy Godard, PMP
I started this session with eight high-fives around the room. (Assignment by speaker of all attendees.)
Godard is a specialist in technological change (in Bank of America organization for more than 20 years). It boils down to:
For 360 degree thinking:
Spencer Horn led the closing keynote, "Ownership factor: Achieve your goals, enjoy your results!"
One of the challenges in this space is the fact that many of the resources that I reference are part of PMI's access-required projectmanagement.com service. In this case, I can't avoid it. I'm intrigued by Mark Mullaley's late August article and presentation on project management education. If you're really interested in project management, I urge you to join PMI (if you're not a member already) so that you can access resources like Mark's presentation and article on critical needs in PM education.
What he asserts makes sense: The market leads Registered Education Providers (REPs) to support two primary needs: PM 101-style courses and certification preparation courses. Where is the advanced project management training, including the contextual application of project management best practices in an organization? They are not well supported today. That's the challenge that Mark Mullaley identifies. Based on my limited experience with REPs and project management resources (including participation in an advanced courses service for one year), I agree with his assessment.
But more than that, Mark's work is making me think about how I can lead project management instruction in my own organization. I took a lead role in organizing PM training at my previous employer and it was essentially focused on PM 101-level instruction. This is valuable, when you consider growth in the use of Agile approaches in higher education and the move away from command-and-control PM approaches. But still, where's the applied PM educational opportunities for practicing PMs?
I made a comment in the thread to Mark's article suggesting that PMI take the lead in improving educational technologies for applied project management learning - which is more conversation than one-way presentation (with follow-up quiz assessment). Also, PMs who work in higher education settings, particularly with distance learning technologies, could help take the lead here in communicating on effective distance learning technologies with the PM community. Granted, it's only one piece in improving advanced PM education, but employing better collaborative learning technologies is important. It's something I'm interested in doing, but it will take some time for me to become more engaged with distance learning technologies.
PM & Tech Blog
"Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.”