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.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Good Question -- Why isn't it done yet?

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Linkapalooza - More Project Management -- Continuing the catch-up and clean-out...

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Linkapalooza - Project Management -- A collection of catch-up...
More to come.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Making Parkinson's Law Work for You -- More from the book I mentioned yesterday, The 4-Hour Workweek...
If I give you a week to complete the same task, it's six days of making a mountain out of a molehill. If I give you two months, God forbid, it becomes a mental monster. The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.

This presents a very curious phenomenon. There are two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity that are inversions of one another:

1.) Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time. (80/20)
2.) Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important. (Parkinson's Law).

The best solution is to use both together: Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.
Of course this assumes you are capable of fooling yourself into honoring self-imposed short deadlines - kind of like setting your clocks fast to avoid being late.

On the other hand, this is totally consistent with the concept of "aggressive but possible" estimates in Critical Chain project plans.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Old News: Multi-tasking is Dead --
"Multi-tasking is dead. It never worked and it never will. Intelligent people love to sing its praises because it gives them permission to avoid the much more challenging alternative: focusing on one thing." –- Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Of course you already knew that.

Also, related, from Michael S. Hyatt...
"Most of us don't spend enough time thinking. We are so busy doing that we have, I fear, almost forgotten how to think. Yet it is our thinking, more than any other single activity, that influences our outcomes.

"The problems we face will not likely be solved by working harder. New gadgets won't really help either. In fact, I sometimes fear that our many gadgets have only added unnecessary clutter to our lives. What we need is better, more profound thinking.

But how can we find more time?"
He goes on to offer a few answer about finding more "head time."

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Agile Task/Process Mgmt vs Project Management -- Long time blog correspondent Glen Alleman has recently acknowledged an understanding of agile software development that's "dawning on him"...
"In a recent exchange on Agile Project Management, it has finally dawned on me that when the agile software development advocates speak of project management they are not actually speaking of project management. They are speaking of managing software development..."[Be sure to read the rest...]
Yup. Pretty much a similar conclusion I came to back in 2003, when I had time and energy to ponder such things (as well as a vested interest in promoting Critical Chain Project Management and its potential as a PM overlay for agile efforts).

From January
of that year...
"While on the subject, I've been recently trying to wrap my head around the various flavors of agile software development, and what they describe as "agile Project Management" (which has more of a sound of "task" or "process management" to my ears). There's been an excellent discussion of this in the Newgrange PM discussion list, which starts in the YahooGroups archive here."
And from March...
"One of the things I think I'm seeing in Davids' book is a distinction between "agile" work methodologies and practices and project management that can wrap around them to make promises...a distinction that I've come to myself. The things that fall into the agile approach are about work/task management for a certain type of work, and don't really meaningfully address the promise-making and promise-keeping aspects inherent to project management."
Of course this assumes agreement that a major function of project management is about making promises, and understanding the health of and/or modification to those promises in an attempt to keep them.

"Agile Software Development" is a set of processes governing how software development tasks are organized and performed. But software development is only part of a project, even if it is a software development project.

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Facebook Hot, LinkedIn Not? -- I've never been much of a networker, so maybe I haven't worked my LinkedIn presence as well as others, but I have been playing around with a Facebook profile recently. Maybe it's just the Web 2.0 version of ADD setting in.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Fun: Miscellaneous Stuff -- A little something for everyone.
  • Interior Design for the busy workplace

  • The epic version of a classic from the 80's. The song you know and love starts about 2:15 in, after a weird intro. Apologies if you can't get it out of your head over the weekend.

  • Google as an in-the-field instructional tool...On one hand, they seem to fit the "dumb criminals" stereotype, but then again, they haven't been caught yet. Maybe they also used Google Maps to make a quick getaway.

  • Did you turn 29 years old in April of this year? Did your parents live in the New York City area before you were born? hmmmm…

  • An ad for the internet from Digital Equipment Corp (DEC), 1994...Ah, the good old days of uncluttered, functional design.

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More on Chinese Manufacturing -- A great series of blogs from Bunnie Huang on a visit to Shenzhen. I can't summarize them better than Boing Boing: Bunnie Huang's blog-series on Chinese manufacturing.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Not Only for Wartime -- It just hit me that a recent Unfocused post is not only good advice for wartime; it's good advice for project management as well.

Keep calm and carry on.

Along these lines, sometimes the source of calm is knowing that "strategic quitting", like that discussed in The Dip, from Seth Godin. Being able to discern the difference between a "dip" and a "dead end", and act appropriately, can be a source of calm.

For example, from my project of preparing for a comfortable retirement, the stock market this year has been kind to those that have "bought the dips" on the way up, although, on the other hand, "bailing out" with profits in hand can be not only prudent, but profitable as well.

It's all relative.

As Douglas Adams suggests...

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Web 2.0 Marketing -- Heard a real good podcast recently – The New Community – from Radio Open Source. It features, during the first half, Larry Weber, author of a new book, Marketing to the Social Web, along with the Daphne Kwan, CEO of Expo TV, a video product review community site. Good discussion on getting companies to "let go of control" to build a brand/conversation.

Weber's book apparently goes into "how companies like GlaxoSmithKline have formed expressive affinity groups around dieting pills; how Stonyfield Yogurt has cultivated environmentalists on its site and added a page called "Ask Our Nutritionist"; how Jones Soda in Seattle has built a community conversation that's much more valuable than any use of mass media."

Sounds interesting. (I guess after 3 years at DigitalGrit, this old operations dog is learning new tricks and turning into a marketer.)

(The podcast is also available on iTunes for a quick grab into your iPod – it's the next to last full show before a summer break for the Open Source series.)

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Friday Fun: The Reality of Resource Management --
...from Savage Chickens.

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Scrutiny of Statistics -- More "scrutiny".

A recent Wired/AP News article on Live Earth targeting China for greenhouse gases falls prey to the use of a number in one dimensions - total amount of emissions. It points out that China surpassed the US as largest source of emissions in 2006 with 6.2 billion metric tons of CO2 vs 5.8 from the US.

However, if the same numbers were given one more dimension and given a per capita perspective, we 300,000,000 in the US would be shown to be putting out about four times as much as our 1,300,000,000 Chinese brethren.

Yes, the total is what matters, but..........



Here's Hans Rosling showing us how to look at such statistics.
These Ted presentations are required watching.



(And Seth Godin makes an "other side of the same coin" point in his post about "times a million math" yesterday. It's not worth it for me to give up my 98 Corvette - average 22 mpg - to go to a 4-banger or hybrid to save a few hundred dollars a year, but..."multiply that by a million.")

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Do they have any more feet to shoot? -- Universal does not renew iTunes contract. The music industry just eludes me. What are they thinking - that some thrashing around like a punch-drunk heavyweight in the 15th round might connect? I doubt it.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On Scrutiny of Information -- A bit of a theme this week, on givens, assumptions, beliefs and instincts...
"If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way." -- Bertrand Russell, British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

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Four-Letter Words -- Related to Monday's post about givens and assumptions, ashok at 37signals points out that certain rour-letter words...
  • Need
  • Must
  • Can’t
  • Easy
  • Just
  • Only
  • Fast
...are also worthy targets for some skepticism and clarification. (I'd also include a 5-letter and a 6 - Never and Always - in this group.)

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Givens or Assumptions? -- Jeffrey Phillips suggests that when you hear "That's a given", you translate it to "That's an assumption."
What givens do we hold as sacred? If they were repealed or overturned, what would happen to our business? Someone, somewhere is working to overcome your givens. Some competitor somewhere sees your givens as assumptions that can be violated or changed. Will your firm be ready when the change comes?
What's a "given" in your world?

Your "beliefs" need to be given the same skepticism and held up to the same scrutiny that you would give any other information that comes your way. Probably more so, with more conscious effort, since entrenched givens or beliefs are too easy to ignore. In this case, ignorance might be bliss for the short term, but not necessarily for around the corner.

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Doable To-Do List - What to Write -- Ideas for organizing that list of tasks so you can you can follow them "as if you're a robot" for getting things done.
  • Break it down...
  • Work through projects using next actions...
  • Use specific, active verbs...
  • Keep your list short...
  • Keep it moving...
  • Prioritize...
  • Purge...
  • Log your done items...
Along with this advice, I've also discovered another tool that has helped me be more consistent with my GTD implementation. Watch this space...

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FP's Recommended Reading
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Strategic Thinking and Improvement

Enterprise PM - It Starts with Strategic Interdependence

Face Reality

How to Think With Your Gut

Hugger-Mugger and Helter-Skelter

Managing for Murphy, Satan, and Yourself

More of the Same (Local/Global)

PMI Congress Notes: Using Risk Management for Strategic Advantage

Tell Me How You'll Measure Me and Ah, But What to Measure?

What's in Your Strategy?

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Why TOC Works
Project and Multi-Project Management
Critical Chain and (not or) XP

Defining Project Success (But for Whom?)

Down 'n Dirty w/TOC and PM (Part 1 of 5 consecutive posts)

End of Project Review

If Project Management is the Answer, What's the Question?

In Defense of Planning

It Ain't the Tools

Lessons Learned, Revisited

Predicting Uncertain Futures

Project Conflicts

Project Determinism (and other myths)

Project Portfolio Management

Promises, Predictions, and Planning

Removing Bottlenecks - A Core Systems Design Principle

Stage Gates and Critical Chain

Ten Top Sources of Project Failure (The Executive Version)

The Meaning of "Schedule"
Leadership and Change Management
Consistent Leadership Behavior

Invisible Dogma - Perpetuating Paradigms

Nothing But Value

On Assumption Busting

Personal Productivity - An Excuse?

The Psychology of Change Management

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