Project Management Operational Problem Solving Implementation & Change Management Strategy & Alignment

Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Friday Fun: Along the New Jersey Shore -- From Road Trip USA...
"A series of local roads collectively known as Ocean Drive runs along the south Jersey coast, passing through a number of family-oriented beach resorts, starting at Ocean City, 'The Greatest Family Resort for a Vacation, or a Lifetime,' 10 miles south of Atlantic City. Ocean City (pop. 15,500) was founded as a religious retreat in the late 1870s, and feels oddly suburban away from the beachfront boardwalk area, where the wonderful Wonderland at 6th Street has over 30 rides, including a giant Ferris wheel, a 1920s carousel, and much more. A block south, you can cool off on a hot summer’s day at Gillian’s Water Wonderland."
This weekend, we get our Ocean City shore house back from the summer rental season. Nothing like a relatively deserted shore town in the fall, winter, and spring for real decompression, even if it starts with a weekend of cleaning only 2 1/2 blocks from the beach. (By the way, drop me a comment if you're interested in a Jersey Shore rental for summer of 2005. Oh, and don't let the population number above fool you, the town has over 20,000 housing units that are filled with families from late June through August, swelling the population by a factor of 6, at least.)

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ten Rules for Project Managers -- Long time blog buddy Hal Macomber celebrates two years of blogging with this excellent top-ten list.

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Do Less --
"Marketing guru and agent of change Seth Godin writes that for your company to do more, sometimes you need to do less! Stop trying to be all things to all people (or customers), and focus (in your life and in your work) on your core strengths. Your business (and probably your sanity) are likely to improve." (PDF)
Sounds familiar.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Friday Fun: Excerpts from Essays In Idleness -- Something a little different for a weblog about getting stuff done.
"In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth."
Writings of 14th century Japanese Buddist Zen priest Yoshida Kenko. (via MetaFilter)

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You Get What You Measure -- Another recent thread of conversation in the agileprojectmanagement discussion group is about measuring the productivity of programmers. Folks who have been in the productivity biz for a while really get it, as shown in this IndustryWeek article...
"There's no right or wrong way to measure productivity," says Roger Schroeder, professor of operations management at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. It's a favorite factory-level metric because it's perceived to be within management's control. If sales drop, output will go down; but if inputs are reduced, productivity can still be high.  
 
As a real indicator of performance though, productivity alone is not enough. Schroeder notes that many productivity calculations presume quality is constant. Output is output. Better quality, which is certainly better from the customer's point of view, won't show up in a standard productivity measure. Product complexity changes also are difficult to account for.  
 
"Productivity doesn't consider whether you deliver on time or not. It doesn't consider flexibility. It doesn't consider lead time. It's more of cost measure," says Schroeder.
And when one tries to apply metrics like productivity to individuals when the real value comes from the synergies of a team working together, plus the actual usability of the resulting system, one is bound to get distortions related to trying to make the numbers look good.

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Neither Learned nor Creative -- I recently came across FLSA: What Was Changed in the "White Collar" Exemptions?, a piece on US Department of Labor rules about overtime for categories of white collar work. These three categories caught my attention...
3. Learned Professional -- Primarily performs work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, defined as work predominantly intellectual in character and requiring consistent exercise of discretion and judgment; Acquired the advanced knowledge through a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction

4. Creative Professional -- Primarily performs work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor

5. Computer Employee -- Is compensated either on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week ($23,660 per year) OR $27.63 per hour if on an hourly basis; Is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field; Primarily applies systems analysis techniques and procedures
They caught my attention because there are also currently several threads of what sometimes seems like never-ending discussion about the nature of software work in places like the agileprojectmanagement discussion group. Is it craft? Engineering? Artistic?

Apparently the Feds have figured out that a "Computer Employee" fits in neither the learned category nor the creative.

Perhaps because it's both? (How's that for last minute flame retardent?)

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Project Tolerance -- From Tony Rizzo of the Product Development Institute...
Tolerance is a technical term. In the world of engineering, tolerances are integral components of the designs of our products. To eliminate the tolerances from a product's drawings would be to destroy valuable information regarding the design of that product. Such a boneheaded move would expose a company to the loss of tens of millions of dollars.

Similarly, tolerances are integral components of the designs of our projects. To eliminate the tolerances from a project's model is to destroy valuable information regarding the design of the project. This boneheaded move regularly does expose companies to the loss of tens of millions of dollars. It must stop.

We must be the ones to stop it. Rather than allowing ourselves to be browbeaten into using erroneous, deterministic models of projects, we must accept our own fiduciary responsibility. We must do first and foremost that which is right.
A buffer by any other name...

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Friday Fun: PhotoStamps -- A bit expensive, but an idea for special occasions or special statements.

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Rhetoric --
"Logic is required to find truth, but rhetoric is necessary to communicate truth."
(No. 1926 in Engines of Our Ingenuity)

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Let's Hear it for the Overworked Brain Surgeon -- From Anita Sharpe at Worthwhile, who asks...
"...why do many companies entrust their creative and strategic thinking to people who not only must be very, very tired -- but also have no time to travel for new perspectives, or to read a book or magazine that introduces fresh ideas, or to think about much of anything but the piles of work before them?"
Not only creativity, but also the ability (and bandwidth) to address future needs as well as immediate crises, requires the presence of Slack in an organization, or, for that matter, in a life.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Jersey Blog Meetup! -- If you happen to be in the Garden State, home of the best August corn and tomatoes anywhere...
The folks at NJ.com, together with blogger/teacher Will Richardson and other good people are holding a blogger MeetUp this Thursday, August 12 at 7 p.m. at MediaTech, upstairs at 118 Main Street in Flemington, NJ. All bloggers, would-be bloggers, and the merely curious are invited to please, please come on by.
(From BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis) Be there or be square.

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TOC Analysis of Software Development -- This looks interesting, although I hope the participants can go into it without a pre-conceived notion of "traditional" methods of software development and without an agenda. A real TOC Thinking Process analysis has most value when it's done without a pre-determined agenda.

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Planning Is Practice --
Planning is practice for the main event. Let's practice with the people who will perform.
From Hal Macomber.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

Friday Fun: A One-Minute Vacation -- In case you can't manage 2 1/2 weeks, the quiet american: one-minute vacation might help...
Surely you can spare a minute to clean your ears? Take a one-minute vacation from the life you are living. One-minute vacations are unedited recordings of somewhere, somewhen. Sixty seconds of something else. Sixty seconds to be someone else.
Stick your earbuds into the audio out on your internet reading machine and try out this mp3...
may 24, 2004 - 800 KB -- The recording was made in the back garden of my house in Manchester, UK, on the first of June, 2003, at around 9:30 p.m., when it was still light. This is one of those rare, fortuitous moments which will probably never happen again, at least to me. I had just switched on the MD and gone out of the back door to record the birdsong, when just at that very moment it started to rain. So I stood underneath our oaktree and kept recording. You can hear, amongst other things, blackbird, swifts, starlings, blue tits, and of course the rain on the leaves, gradually getting heavier. The equipment used: a Sony MD Walkman MZ-R700 and a Sony ECM-MS907 stereo mic. You must believe in spring indeed.
Chill out in these dog days of summer.

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Advice from Bezos --
Hire very carefully -- you're creating an enduring culture.
Be stubborn and flexible.
Obsess about customers, not colleagues.
Know when to throw away the org chart.
Get good advice -- and ignore it.
Don't chase the quick buck.
Communication is terrible.
Take leaps of faith.
Be simpleminded.
Add up lots of little advantages.
(via the Creative Generalist.)

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Work, Stress, and Vacation -- A couple weeks ago, my Saturday morning radio listening was jostled by a change in schedule at WHYY. Instead of waking up to On the Media, the psychology-oriented show Voices in the Family was on instead. Almost turning over for a few more z's until Studio 360 came on (Am I an NPR geek or what? Don't get me started about my Sunday morning listening.), the Voices show grabbed me. The synopsis...
"It's vacation time - but are you taking any time off ? Maybe a long weekend, a day here and there? 80 percent of American workers feel stress on the job, and the American Institute of Stress estimates that 1 million workers are absent daily due to stress. Dan Gottlieb and his guests will discuss work stress, vacation and how much time we need to really recharge our batteries!"
It was a pretty good show (RealMedia stream) about American workaholism and reminded me why Lois and I are so looking forward to our too-long delayed, upcoming 2 1/2-week vacation this fall. Any Hong Kong or Shanghai bloggers or readers out there?

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On Generalities and Details --
"We think in generalities, but we live in detail."
    -- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)
Tell me about it. (Via Quotes of the Day - The Quotations Page.)

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Backblog -- A grab bag of stuff that caught my attention.
Under-sell to Over-deliver
De-captivating Markets
Reinvent Your Company
Transparency - A Window on the Data Aquarium
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
The Compensation Game
Project Lifecycle Methodology
Information Radiator
Trust me. You might get lucky.

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Testing Meme Propagation In Blogspace: Add Your Blog!. --

This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2004/08/a_sonar_ping_of.html) – results and commentary will appear there in the future.

Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate — the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)

INSTRUCTIONS

To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

* (1) I found this experiment at URL: http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/2004/08/03.html#a4325
* (2) I found it via “Newsreader Software” or “Browsing the Web” or “Searching the Web” or “An E-Mail Message": Newsreader Software
* (3) I posted this experiment at URL: http://www.focusedperformance.com/blogger.html
* (4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 03/08/04
* (5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 22:16:00
* (6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA

OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

* (7) My blog is hosted by: netcarrier.com
* (8) My age is: 53
* (9) My gender is: Male
* (10) My occupation is: Project Management
* (11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: NetNewswire
* (12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Blogger
* (13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 27/12/00
* (14) My web browser is: Safari
* (15) My operating system is: Mac OS X

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Adams on Murphy --
"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."
    -- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001), Mostly Harmless
(From Quotes of the Day - The Quotations Page.)

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