Posted on May 5, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
A leader, a manager, and a business person?
An illustration of the manager/leader gap discussed earlier (here) is drawn in this back-and-forth among Glenn Whitfield (here), Andrew Meyer (here), and others. All good stuff, though the last two comments on Glenn’s post — from Long Huynh at CIO Assistant and Glenn himself — get closest to my perpsective.
The idea that a CIO can perform well by operating with one style is pernicious. Unfortunately, many reinforce this idea — see this State of the CIO 2007 feature from CIO Magazine that identifies CIO archetypes (and even offers a “self-assessment” tool for self-archetyping).
I wonder…how can a single-archetype CIO be successful when his/her IT portfolio must contain very disparate types of projects and programs (e.g., “stay in the game” vs. “win the game” vs. “change the game” initiatives)?
Filed under: Innovation, IT special interests, IT Strategy, Leadership, Portfolio Management, Strategy Management | Tagged: Andrew Meyer, Glenn Whitfield, Long Huynh, manager-leader gap | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
I’ve been working on an initiative called “Value Delivery,” which will incorporate value management into our various PMO methods, tools, etc. These activities are often listed as typical PMO functions, but this really only honored in the breach. Value management never seems to take off given a PMO’s traditional emphasis on implementing project management methods, tools, training, etc.
In our approach, we will ensure that value management has its own identity, especially when it comes to training. While value and benefit management is baked into the various program and portfolio standards around, it isn’t part of the typical project manager’s skill set. Rolling out value management separately should emphasize the organizational and personal changes required to be successful.
What is value management’s objective? To ensure that execution remains focused on delivering against executives’s and stakeholder expectations. How does value management happen? Maybe the best way to illustrate is to briefly lay out the lifecycle we’re using below:
- Value Discovery: Establish a performance baseline
- Value Realization: Identify required process improvements and KPIs
- Value Optimization: Review and steer benefit attainment
Filed under: Performance Management, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, Strategy Management | Tagged: alignment, business alignment, Value Management | 6 Comments »
Posted on April 24, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
Glen Alleman and a number of commenters contributed to a great thread on math, PM, and complexity (here).
I try to keep the ideas of complexity “science” in mind when planning strategy and its execution. In particular, I have a deep respect for the power of self-organization and the need to create flexible rather than brittle management systems.
However, I’m not sure how powerful CAS really is as a theory, at least w/r/t/ project management. For example, how do its predictions advance my estimation approach beyond what we’re doing w/ probability distributions (e.g., Monte Carlo simulations via Crystal Ball)? To I really need math beyond that to get “good enough” estimates?
Filed under: Complexity, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, Strategy Management | Tagged: complex adaptive systems, complexity theory, Glen Alleman, Herding Cats | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 22, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
Cats and dogs, living together...
Greg Balestrero — CEO of the Project Management Institute — recently posted (here) on his experiences at the Scrum Gathering in Orlando. In my experience, Greg and the PMI staff have been very eager to foster a better relationship among the various methodology camps. Per Greg’s post,
[t]he intent of the visit was to bridge the gap between the Scrum Alliance and PMI. But I guess the real reason we attended was to dispel the myths that surround the PMBOK® Guide and Agile practice. There is a widely held opinion that the PMBOK® Guide and Agile don’t mix… they can’t be “shaken, nor stirred” together.
Please read the post…it gives an interesting perspective on how to build alliances among disparate points of view and how to overcome misconceptions.
Filed under: Methodology, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management | Tagged: agile, PMBOK Guide 4th Edition, PMI, Project Management Institute, SCRUM | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 9, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
Regular readers know that I’ve been harping on the increasing importance of program management, especially when it comes to realizing the benefits or value of projects. Project managers who simply run projects without reference to the larger business environment are becoming a commodity.
During the recent Global Corporate Council forum, I heard two thoughts that illustrated the challenge for PMs:
- Greg Balestrero, the CEO of the Project Management Institute (Greg’s blog is here), calls project management “table stakes”. In other words, PM has become so widespread that it is no longer differentiating for an organization or person to be good at PM. In Greg’s opinion, PM-only lets/keeps you in the game…no more.
- One council member quanitified the value of the PMP in terms of experience. He had to counsel a project manager who was very itchy to advance but was perplexed that his PMP hadn’t taken him further. The council member put it to him bluntly: “A PMP is worth about two years of experience in our organization, which is something… But it isn’t equivalent to leading and delivering a multi-year project or program.”
Filed under: People Development, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management | Tagged: PMP, Project Management Institute, Project Management Skills | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 2, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
FYI, a Wall Street Journal article (“Dangers of Clinging to Solutions of the Past”) based in part on interviews w/ yours truly came out today (link here, page B4 in the paper). Thanks to Kishore Sengupta of INSEAD for pointing the WSJ my way and to Phred Dvorak of the WSJ for conveying the perils of experience so well and so succinctly.
As I’ve noted to a couple of colleagues, it is hard to believe that only 250 words of copy came out of two hours of interview time. Insert your own joke re: my verbosity here…
Filed under: Complexity, Knowledge Management, Organizational Change Management, People Development, Performance Management, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, Project Success Factors | Tagged: INSEAD, Kishore Sengupta, Paul Ritchie, Phred Dvorak, The Experience Trap, Wall Street Journal | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 1, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
As a follow up, over 250 people attended last week’s SAP PMO webcast (original post here) hosted by Keith Johnson, the VP for the SAP North America PMO VP and Jim Curry, Program Delivery Director. It’s always great to have a customer — in this case, Kelly Gear, Senior Program Manager, Johns Manville — confirm the value of some of what SAP offers and suggests.
Considering what we’ve been discussing here and here about goals, deliverables, and activities, this topic from the webcast caught my eye:
How to establish the critical link between the steering committee’s goals and the project team’s activities.
The recording is available here – you will need to do a free registration if you don’t have a SAP.com login already.
Filed under: Methodology, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, SAP | Tagged: Jim Curry, Johns Manville, Keith Johnson, Kelly Gear, PMO services, SAP America, SAP Services, SAP webcast | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 28, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
I saw this comment by Dennis Stevens (Dennis’s blog is here) on Glen Alleman’s post on software estimation practices (here). His comment hit on two points that stood out.
Effective estimating requires a strong understanding of variance in estimating and how to account for/govern this variance.
Ditto and amen… my experience in implementing logistics optimization (I worked for formerly-independent component of Descartes) helped me get comfortable with the fuzziness of estimation (e.g., variance). Two b-school courses were also helpful: mathematical modeling for marketing and applied multivariate analysis (I keep the latter’s textbook by my desk). This background may not make me an expert, but I have a decent estimation BS detector.
Politically driven estimates are just irresponsible management. I remember a conversation with an executive where I told him “This is a 46 week effort. If you need to say 32 to get funding, then you can say 32 and deliver 14 weeks late – or we can say 46. It’s up to you.” We presented at 46 weeks, got the funding, and delivered on time. If an organization can’t afford to do a project, it shouldn’t be done based on false estimates – this is malfeasance.
As Dennis suggests in this case, pretending that the earlier delivery target does not compromise the product or mean inevitable delays is foolish, even unethical. My experience is that this self-sabotaging approach happens because the project can’t or won’t demonstrate the impact of such decisions on the initiative’s business case.
To that point about the business case, I’ll use a future post to lay out how we used a simple illustration of our business case to justify an internal program’s proposed release schedule.
Filed under: PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management | Tagged: Dennis Stevens, estimation, Glen Alleman, Herding Cats, project estimation | 3 Comments »
Posted on February 23, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
One of the unexpected challenges in our PMO journey has been that success can make an enterprise-level PMO appear less relevant. A PMO must transform its approach to stakeholders or it won’t take full advantage of the improvements it fostered. One manifestation of the problem unfolds thusly:
- An enterprise PMO composed of PM thought leaders executes a PM improvement program that delivers methodology, training, tools, and change management initiatives to its stakeholders (e.g., regional, local, unit PMOs).
- Those stakeholders [largely] adopt those initiatives and transform their project operations in significant and measurable ways.
- This transformation creates a new set of PM thought leaders, who often surpass the knowledge and hands-on experience of the original enterprise PMO.
The business problem has reversed; the enterprise PMO now becomes the organization that needs to change to reflect the new reality. Deliverables that were relevant in moving from low maturity processes no longer work with a more sophisticated audience. This issue is compounded by the difficulty in recognizing the changed environment. Who wants to admit that he/she is no longer automatically at the vanguard of knowledge?
In other words, the challenge for a successful enterprise PMO is: “Who will change the change agents?”
Filed under: Methodology, Organizational Change Management, People Development, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management | Tagged: business change, Enterprise PMO, personal change, process maturity | 3 Comments »
Posted on February 16, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
I forgot to link to this Greg Balestrero post (here) on the US stimulus package (then still in debate). He asks a lot of great questions about whether Congress and the Obama administration have thought through how to make this portfolio most effective.
I’ll focus my comments on Greg’s first two PM-oriented suggestions for the plan (#3 is to accelerate the spending):
First, get the people who know how to manage complex change initiatives — these are not career politicians but are experienced project professionals — who can manage change portfolios… that can get results.
Agreed, but one of the challenges with current legislative practice is that large swaths of the portfolio are fixed by the legislation itself, at least at the Federal level. Some of the more interesting work is happening at the state level. In a recent radio interview, the RI Director of Transportation sounded like he had his portfolio ready to go. In fact, he was ready to pounce on funds that other states would forfeit because their transportation portfolio process wasn’t as smooth.
Second, emphasize the competency of project management, like they have begun to do in many of the governments around the world. But they should not allow “pockets” of excellence to prevail. On the contrary, the governments should leverage the pockets of excellence to develop an enterprise discipline in project execution.
While enterprise-wide initiatives are great, I always wonder how deep they really can go. My experience is that in any organization of substantial complexity, it is hard to cover any but the most generic PM needs at the enterprise level. The differences in line of business, agency, etc. drive variation that’s hard to reconcile effectively.
Filed under: Methodology, Organizational Change Management, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management | Tagged: Gregory Balestrero, Obama Administration, PMI, stimulus package | Leave a comment »