PM Point of View

Challenged by the hosts, Kendall Lott and Mike Hannan, returning guest Steven Devaux takes his value break down structure (the "Golden Triangle") to a new level, looking at quantifying value of project within programs. That’s the obvious, the less obvious is looking at the need for this view point in critical areas such as public health, emergency response and national security. He emphasizes the need to prioritize or sequence projects within a program to optimize the schedule for maximum impact, where the focus is on delivering outcomes rather than just producing products.
What might we achieve if public health professionals should be trained in program management to effectively deliver the benefits of their research? What we also need are feedback loops that give us the ability to reevaluate and adjust projects within a program based on emerging information and changing conditions.  We'll start seeing value when we start focusing on  return to mission rather than just the return on investment, it's about Program Value Management.

Direct download: PMPOV114_-_Program_Value_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

In this podcast episode, co-hosts Kendall and Mike are joined by guest Roy Mazel, a retired NASA project leader and guest lecturer. They discuss the Project Management complexities of asteroid missions, specifically, the OSIRIS-REx Psyche missions.  As you might guess, the successful implementation of risk management strategies and the importance of technical integrity in the face of schedule pressure is the litmus test of getting these missions completed on time, on budget, and without failure. And what you might not expect, Roy highlights the importance of a strong organizational culture that values communication, listening to team members, and mentoring the next generation of leaders. 

The discussion sheds light on the intricate project management involved in space missions and the lessons that can be learned from both successful and challenging endeavors.  Listen to the podcast, and watch the news for outcomes of these two missions!

Direct download: PMPOV113_-_Asteroids.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this episode, Kendall, Mike, and Wolfram Mueller discuss strategies to improve business workflows using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Critical Chain Project Management, focused on two things: underloading system constraints and buffer management (having a signal that our flow is or isn't working). One thing that pops out is the importance of calculating business cases and recognizing growth potential--that becomes the compelling case to get middle management on board with the change needed. Getting a team to underload (reduce the non-critical work) of key resources, while having other enabling resources waiting for action is a really hard concept to get managers on board with…until you let them figure out what is holding back their throughput and let them figure out the solution. And that is the big news: consultants can help you identify and work through the problem, but successful change happens with they get out of the way and let the dedicated middle management drive the change. It helps to foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and problem-solving among employees. It enables the self-organization that creates the fix. And evidence shows it out.

Direct download: PMPOV112_-_Let_it_Flow_Success_without_Force.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm EDT

The crux of any success? It isn't the plan, it isn't the desire, not even the WIIFM, its EXECUTION. And organizational change is no different. Today's episode discusses the difficulties that organizations face when it comes to executing change. Once again guest and change management author and guru April Mills comes to us on the topic of change…but this time it isn't how to do it, but how she has seen managers institutionally throw up their own barriers to change even as they try to change…starting with outsourcing on the thinking to…professionals. It may be that we are so good at PM and Change techniques that we have once again lost the bubble…the point is to execute and create value. Recognizing and moving past the "aspiration ability gap," jumping through the hoops of just ticking boxes, we have to focus on execution and look for opportunities for acceleration. Managers are called to amplify positive responses to create belief ripples that lead to success.

Organizations can get in their own way,
Eager to change but miss the play.
Professionals may think they know the game, but
Focus on outcome, not the timeframe.
Sandbagging is when a project takes too long,
Outsourcing your brain leads to execution gone wrong.
The aspiration ability gap will widen and grow,
Unless leaders look for signals, they miss seeds of value they should sow.

Direct download: PMPOV111_Getting_Out_of_Our_Own_Way.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36am EDT

So there we were at the 10th annual UMD PM Symposium, having the Great Debate of Process vs principles.  Facing off were Crystal Richards, CEO of MindsparQ and Laura Barnard, CEO of PMO Strategies. One hour of back and forth and audience questions.  In sum:

From the debate between Laura and Crystal,
It's clear that project managers should grab the handle.
Be a business leader and ask good questions,
Embrace risk and change with no exceptions.

Direct download: PMPOV110_PM_Faceoff_-_Process_vs_Principles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

Elevating the Conversation about Project Management, with a twist. In this episode cohosts Mike Hannan and Kendall Lott take on some Listener Feedback. A running theme in the show is the actual and delineation of project manager, product manager, and program manager--so we jump on that! Of course, our main theme of its all about value, adding value and understanding projects as investments is once again threaded through the answers. But new things lurk--how do you agile on a fixed-price contract? What's the danger and opportunity in cross-functional teams and accountability when managing scrum teams in a matrix world? How can AI be used (or useful) to help project managers understand architecture, dependencies, and level of effort in order to generate a critical path. Listeners got questions; we got answers--listen in for them and send us your questions!

Direct download: Listener_Questions_Revealed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT

No Luddites here! Episode 3 of the UMD PM Symposium prequal and guests Al Zeiton, Marissa Brienza and Bill Brantley chat about the role of AI in Project Management and the potential risks and benefits of using it as PMs. We discover the logic and importance of maintaining human interaction—turns out its not fear that makes us think “it will never replace us” but rather AI’s limitations in the larger PM discipline. Ah! But what potential magic AI may bring if we use it as augmenting project management, driving improved risk assessment, and being our outsourced memory! All in service of PMS providing value for customers, and keeping us on the relationship side, even as technology might give us augmented memory, augmented intelligence or even artificial emotional intelligence. There may be guardrails we need to learn as we plunge toward a future of exponential skill growth in which could take PMs to the CEO suite…but augmented PMs maybe the stuff CEOs will be made of!

Direct download: UMD_PM_4.0_AI__Future_for_Project_Managers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18pm EDT

We all talk Agile, and sometimes we "say we wanna do agile", so this conversation is about the challenges of implementing Agile in different environments with guests David Forsyth, Mike Mellane, and Caitlin Kenny.  Co-host Mike Hannan takes our experts through a journey of the tensions between customers and vendors and the difficulty in managing communication pathways, budgeting, and the principle-agent problem. Solutions you care about included dedicating teams, synchronizing resources, capacity-based budgeting, and fixed-price contracts. Ah, and culture, it always is culture...that the shift that comes with embracing Agile and how transformation should be a continuous journey that focuses on business value. So, with a little patience and a focus on interpersonal accountability, incentives, and autonomy you can build the trusting teams needed to do the Agile dance.  Fight the zealotry, power to the edge, and download the episode!

Direct download: So_you_wanna_Agile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

First, "do no harm"--seems like a good adage, and is consistent with our guest Kevin Coleman who discusses some tenets of his UMD PM Symposium presentation coming this April, called "Unconscious Bias: Recognize it and correct it." Our second critical conversations guest is John Hovell on his UMD presentation, "Conversational Leadership: Convening Conversations that Otherwise Wouldn't Happen" where grounded in Gestalt theory, he pushes us to develop conversations that affirmatively support ourselves and others. He asks us to consider, "are we creating community" when we interact. Our third guest, Paloma Martin lays out the underpinnings of our need to consider gender perspectives directly in our stakeholder engagement and across all of the PM processes, as she gives us the teaser for her presentation "Project and Change Management with a Gender Perspective." These speakers are three of the 50 you will hear at the UMD Project Management Center for Excellence 10th annual PM Symposium this April 20-21…if you register ( See you there, but stop by this episode first!
Direct download: Critical_Conversations.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EDT