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Project Management and Firefighting

Most bloggers won’t admit to how they often find inspiration for their posts in other blogs and tweets. Anywho, I found my inspiration for today’s post from this Tweet: “Why do so many professionals say they are project managing, when what they are doing is fire fighting? – Colin Bentley” from

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  1. It’s a vicious circle.
By |2023-12-13T15:28:07-05:002023-12-13|

Give unto Caesar…and don’t steal his spotlight!

What are you? Are you a technical specialist? What’s your specialty? What about your team: what’s their specialty?

How would you feel if your team members tried to manage the project in your place? How would you like the software engineer trying to replan the project to meet the deadline?

I bet you would not like it. Not one bit.

Yet, how often do we do this to our teams? How often to we try to be specialists in their own discipline?

It’s one thing to want to be helpful and to makes suggestions. It’s another to assume we know better than they do. After all, we’re the project managers because we are good a managing. She’s en engineer because she’s good at engineering.

Project Managers: we don’t need to know everything about everything

It’s ok to defer for the technical expert in your team. It’s ok if they answer the question and not you. They don’t get to do that often.

If they fix an issue, they should be rewarded for it. If you fix a team conflict, that your accomplishment.

It’s […]

By |2009-09-01T17:59:00-04:002009-09-01|

Project management and firefighting

Background on this post

This post started from a tweet that resonated with me. I realized that if we spend all our time managing emergencies, we leave the project at a standstill, without a leader or a vision.

Project management and firefighting

One thing most bloggers won’t admit to is how
they often find inspiration for their posts: in other blogs and tweets.
Anywho, I found my inspiration for today’s post from this Tweet: “Why do so many professionals say they are project managing, when what
they are actually doing is fire fighting? – Colin Bentley” from

  1. It’s a vicious circle.
By |2009-08-26T12:51:00-04:002009-08-26|

The fisherman’s take on project management

Background on the post

I wrote this after a fishing weekend. A bad fishing weekend. As it turns out, there are a lot of project managers that also like fishing! This post was the starting point of several very interesting discussions on LinkedIn about risk management!

The fisherman’s take on project management

I went fishing last weekend. It was a beautiful (yet a little cold) weekend in the woods. We were on a good lake for fishing: our quota was 15 catches per person. That’s a lot of fish!

We were thinking: if the outfitter allows 15 catches per person, there’s got to be a lot of fish in this lake. And there was. As we arrived the Friday night, we could see the bass jump at flies on the surface of the lake. We were stoked for a good day of bass fishing on Saturday!

Well, it was not a good day of fishing. We caught a total of 10 fish between the three of us. This was underwhelming.

Here’s why we didn’t get the fish we were hoping for

  1. The fish was jumping at the flies, […]
By |2009-08-12T12:51:00-04:002009-08-12|

Making project decisions: Guts or data?

We make decisions all the time. As project managers, we make decisions not only for ourselves, but also for our project teams, stakeholders, and sponsors.

There are two ways that people make decisions: they trust their intuitions (their guts) or they analyze the information available. Analytical people (those who trust data) and intuitive people (who trust their guts) are often not very compatible. Analyticals feel intuitives make decisions too lightly. Intuivites feel analyticals get lost in the details of data and take to much time to decide.

There’s two sides to this coin

Both analyticals and intuitives have a point there.

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Always know the facts.
  • Understand the consequences of their decisions before they make them, every time.
  • Never base a decision on impulsive emotions.
  • Usually take time to think about their decision before they make it.
  • Tend to be more reactive than proactive.
  • Decision-making can be a lengthy process.
  • May suffer from analysis paralysis – when too much information actually prevents decision making.
  • Make decisions fast.
  • Have a keen sense of unquantifiable information, like non-verbal language.
  • Firmly believe in their […]
By |2009-07-23T11:48:00-04:002009-07-23|

Project managers who like to learn belong on Twitter

Ah, Twitter. Possibly the most misunderstood tool online.

A lot of people wonder “what’s the deal with Twitter? Why would I tell the world what I had for lunch?”

For us at Websystems, Twitter is a learning tool. The amount of information, wisdom and discussion that happens on the twitternets is simply amazing. Since each post is only 140-characters long, not only must people be concise and to the point, but it’s also very quick to browse through all those tweets.

The secret to getting good information from Twitter is to use hashtags. Hashtags are like search terms that people will put at the end of their posts. Then, through a simple search on the Twemes website or with your favorite Twitter application, you can see everything that’s going on for that keyword.

The popular one related to project management is #pmot (for project managers on twitter). There’s also #pmi, #pmp, #agile and #pmiagile

Here is what was posted recently:

Essentially, […]

By |2009-07-16T12:50:00-04:002009-07-16|

eBook Review: Leadership and the project manager

Art Petty writes at Management Excellence. A few months ago, he published the ebook Leadership and The Project Manager: Developing the Skills that Fuel High Performance.

While there is a lot of talk about leadership and project management, Art takes an original approach. Instead of telling anecdotes to illustrate his point, he uses questions. For example, to illustrate what leadership maturity means, he lists the following questions:

  • Does the PM understand the true role of a leader?
  • Can the PM lead effectively without formal authority?
  • Is the PM capable of inspiring and motivating others and leading across silos?
  • Does the PM understand her role in creating a high performance culture?
  • Is she comfortable receiving and delivering constructive feedback?
  • Does she have high credibility as a professional and a person?
  • Does she understand the stages of team development and the changing leadership tasks at each stage?
  • Does she manage upwards and communicate with stakeholders effectively?

Art’s question-based approach creates a book where one stops and thinks at each chapter, and ponders one’s own answer […]

By |2009-07-01T15:16:00-04:002009-07-01|

Use the Pareto principle to improve project performance

The excellent post “The Lazy Project Manager” over at pmstudent got me thinking.

A common way to manage projects is management by exception. The rationale behind it is that we should only give attention to parts of the project that are not going according to plan. It makes sense. If parts of the project are going well, there is no use scrutinizing them.

However, if we’re only focussing on what’s deviating from the plan, we may be missing opportunities for improvement. If we use Pareto’s 80/20 principle, 80% of the work in the project is on 20% of the project value. This is no doubt the most expensive part of the project. Even if it’s going well, we may gain significant performance improvement by looking at the 20% most costly or most difficult part of the project, and looking for areas of improvement.

By |2009-06-22T15:31:00-04:002009-06-22|

Take the risk of trusting your team

From the part of the person who gives it, trust is hard. It requires a leap of faith. It requires that we believe the person we trust is worth it.

From the part of the person who receives it, trust is energizing. It means that someone was willing to take that leap of faith for us. It means we are worth it. Trust also carries responsibility: if we want to keep that trust, we must prove the giver right. This means delivering on that trust.

Project management requires a high level of trust

  • The project manager must trust the team to do quality work on time and on budget.
  • The project team must trust the project manager to lead them efficiently and help them meet their deadlines.
  • The stakeholders must trust the project manager to understand their needs.
  • The project sponsors must trust the project manager to control the project and prevent cost and schedule overruns.

In a nutshell, the project team must trust each other. That includes the project manager, the team, the stakeholder and the sponsors. For most of us, […]

By |2009-06-08T11:20:00-04:002009-06-08|

Sharing the burden of project updates with your team: why collaborative project management tools are a time-saver and team-builder.

There are two schools of thought with project management tools: project management OR collaboration.

Why should project teams have two tools, one for project management and one for collaboration? Shouldn’t both these uses be united in one tool?

Project management is not about secrecy, quite the contrary. It’s about sharing information with everyone who needs it. Project management is about getting your team to work together to achieve results.

When using a collaborative project management system, you not only share information on the project with the team, your stakeholders and even your clients, you also get to share the burden to updating project information with your team. Instead of the project manager being the only one updating task statuses and entering time sheet data, it’s everyone in the team who does. The project manager simply double-checks and approves the updates.

Not only does it save tremendous amounts of time, it also empowers the team. It gives the team members responsibility towards the project, beyond their assigned work.

By |2009-05-29T14:42:00-04:002009-05-29|
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