Blogs and Commentary

About Our Blogs and Commentaries

This section assists IPMA and Member Association leaders in sharing their insights. The postings are the opinions of those who offer them and do not necessarily represent IPMA’s views on the subjects.

The comments reflect the depth of experience of the commentators, in IPMA-related work, in their career, and in their contributions to society. We encourage the comments of all in The IPMA Family.

More Than Project Take-off and Landing

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PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, asapm President, IPMA VP.
In our previous post, Let’s Start at the Start, and Finish at the Finish, we left a teaser at the end. It’s the paragraph about the parts of an airplane flight that requires the most pilot skill. We were “piloting” our parallel concepts for a paper we were writing for the August 2014 UTD PM Symposium. This event, hosted by University of Texas at Dallas, the PMI Dallas Chapter, and PM World Journal, is always one of the USA’s best regional PM events of the year. asapm and IPMA have participated in this event since it began eight years ago, and they are always outstanding. Now I offer the rest of the parallel concept.

Five Crucial Value-add Timings and Results
Managing a project is much like piloting an aircraft. There are several crucial timings where deft leadership, talent, quick reactions and redirection are essential for success. There are other timings when we can run on “cruise control” and perhaps, even take part in completing project work packages or other actions.

take-offAnd just when are those crucial timings?

Clearly, as illustrated in the photo at right, take-off (and landing) are among the crucial timings. And how does our piloting analogy relate to projects? Project take-off must begin with an effective Kick-off meeting—the first get-together of the team. And the landing? (more…)

Let’s Start at the Start, and Finish at the Finish!

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PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, asapm President, IPMA VP.
One of the greatest challenges in managing projects is engaging the full project life cycle. We too-often see practitioners who believe that the “real project” starts at execution of a preconceived solution. These folks seem to believe that the business case, stakeholder engagement, clear and measurable requirements, solution delivery staging, alternative solutions and approaches, and other essential-to-success actions are a gift from above.

Similarly, many project teams escape to other projects late in the project, before success is even evident. Crucial actions remain, such as defect correction, warranty period adjustments, follow-on change orders (chargeable, of course), that increase the return on investment of successful projects, and proof that you met the business need, and supported your sponsor’s strategy.

middleGiven this syndrome, these sadly misinformed project managers and teams should more accurately chart their projects’ precedence diagrams more like the one at left; after all, they are starting and ending their part of the project in the middle! (more…)

Efficiency & Effectiveness in Project Management

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PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, IPMA VP Marketing & Events, asapm President.
This article is inspired by the theme of the Project Management Research Committee (PMRC, IPMA-China) Congress held August 24-25 2013, in Wuhan China. The theme was Efficiency and Effectiveness in Project Management, and both Mladen Radujkovik, IPMA President, and presented keynotes. This article expands on the first half of my topic, Balance Efficiency and Effectiveness With Actionable Project Information.

Efficiency Awareness
The 1960s were the era of the Efficiency Expert. These were people with training or skills in process optimization, who then moved into productivity improvement, which became a buzzphrase of the 1970s. This set of skills was merged with improved interpersonal skills to become a foundation of the systems analyst or business analyst of the 1980s. Look how far we’ve come: Today we have certifications for people who demonstrate many of these skills—and more. Efficiency became part of an entire gamut of systems engineering disciplines. Efficiency is clearly important.

But it was not consistently applied. In fact, a big part of the “re-engineering of the organization” that was done in the late 1980s and early 1990s was not RE-engineering at all. It was the first-ever true engineering of poorly-designed processes which were randomly piled on top of other processes during the ’70s and ’80s. The efficiency focus benefited projects, because many project managers brought the business concepts of efficiency and productivity into their projects. How do I know? I learned from some of the best during that time.

One problem with this emphasis on efficiency was shown by many organizations’ initiatives over the last 50 years. We can go overboard—sometimes focusing so much on efficiency that we forget about effectiveness. Part of this is because it is easier to look at efficiency; easy to identify it; to measure it. You see, efficiency by itself can be dangerous: If you look up Efficiency Expert on Wikipedia, one section notes: see also Layoffs. (more…)

Navigating the S’s in Our Projects

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I recall from my days of Sports Car racing in the 1970s the importance of aggressively, yet smoothly, navigating “the Esses.” These were the sections of the racetrack with a series of somewhat gentle left and right turns–such that, if you looked at them from above, looked like several repeated capital letter S’s, laid down. The other competences of racing included preparation, apexing correctly, mastering the braking and acceleration points, all while maintaining steely focus and concentration, and strategic competitiveness. But even with all that, one’s performances through the Esses often made the difference between winning and losing. The reason: This is where the most-competent drivers gain the most speed.

The analogy is similar in projects. In projects, the Esses, or S’s, as shown in the title, include: Stakeholders, Sponsors, Sustainability and Success. And just as in racing, these appear to be gentle curves that the project throws at you—but competent and performing project managers know they are far more than that. They are the places where you can achieve the most project momentum. (more…)

Project Management: Delivering The Promise

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This article is inspired by the theme of IPMA’s 25th World Congress, Brisbane, Australia, October 10-12 2011. We originally developed the content for The PM Podcast’s 200th celebratory podcast, then adapted it for as part of IPMA President Roberto Mori’s Welcome and Introduction speech at the Congress. Finally, we are using the theme (with AIPM’s permission) for an asapm Symposium March 5, 2012.

First, thank you to IPMA member association AIPM (Australian Institute of Project Management) for a great 2011 IPMA World Congress, and for the inspired theme of the Congress: Project Management—Delivering the Promise. The promise of project and program management is efficient, effective and beneficial change. We as a profession make that promise to four types of audiences: (more…)

Exposing the Myth of “Doing More With Less”

We first heard it in the early 00s–Executives and Managers saying, “We’ll just have to do more with less.” Well-intentioned at first, for some it soon became a poor alternative to managing effectively. While in specific situations the statement can be temporarily true, in most cases, we believe that those who proclaim and perpetuate the myth that this is an appropriate way to manage a workgroup, department or enterprise, are demonstrating their failure to manage. (more…)

Recycling The Six W’s For Managers In The Middle

We’ve used the Journalist’s Six W’s for over 25 years during portfolio prioritization or later, in project kick-off, to help explore business case analysis and bring all the stakeholders onto the same page. And recently, working with a stellar group of Managers in the Middle, those people who manage project managers and their teams, we came up with a new (for us) use of the Six W’s: What, Why, Who, Where, When, and How. (more…)

Who Really Manages Your Projects?

In many organizations today, competent and experienced Project Managers, Senior Project Managers and Program Managers (PM or PMs) have the responsibility and authority to deliver organizational change. The resulting benefits are expected by Senior Managers, Executives, and internal and external customers. Those PMs are a credit to their organizations, their Managers and Executives are incredibly effective, and their organizations (Government, Enterprises) thrive as a result. We shall call this phenomenon Exhibit A. (more…)

Most of What Got You Here is Wrong for Performing Here!

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This article is for those who have “moved up” in their project-oriented organization, and for those who wish to. Not that everyone must do so; in fact, some of the most-competent, highest-performing contributors are those who are so good at what they do (and receive the recognition needed to sustain it) that they have no desire to do anything different. For the rest of us, however, there can be both excitement and danger in “moving on up”. We explore some of those factors here. (more…)