Sunday, December 5, 2010

One of the top 5 PM's of all time: Santa Claus

It is time to start a new, more serious, and much-needed debate. Who are the top five non-religious mythical project managers ever? My first pick? Santa Claus.

I mean really, how many of you can say that if you missed your project deadline by one day, you would disappoint 6.89 billion children? That is quite a bit of pressure! Not only that, missing the deadline likely would stop his existence! As some of the great texts will tell us (by texts, I mean movies and TV) children must continue to believe in Santa Claus for him to continue to have the magic. I teach in my seminars to ask the question, "Can I ask the significance of the date?" when a mandated date is posed. Santa can answer, "My very existence will be diminished and I will crush the hearts of billions of children." I think that constitutes an acceptable reason to mandate a date.

So every December 26th, Santa and his team of elves hold a lessons learned session to begin the planning for the next project and literal "go-live" date of December 25th. I wonder if the elves are looking at Scrum and Agile methodologies for toy making?

There have been some interesting situations that Santa and the elves have discussed during lessons learned of the past. Like the one time in 1947 that Santa had to go to court to prove that not only did he work at Macy's, but that in fact he was the real Santa. The Commonwealth of New York agreed.

Contingency plans have been put in place now for weather thanks to the discovery of the infamous birth defect in one of the reindeers in 1939. There was also the time in 1966 where Santa helped Batman out of a jam all while keeping regular status report meetings with his team back at the North Pole. In more recent times, Santa Claus had to work out a wrestling dilemma for the World Wrestling Federation in 2006. The man is just everywhere!

However, the secret documents that were smuggled out and made into the movies "The Santa Clause" have given us the greatest insight into the risk mitigation strategies. First, if the actual Santa gets hurt or is in an accident and can't continue his duties, then someone else just puts on the suit and the risk has been mitigated. Of course, we find out that the lucky person who enters into the clause must also obtain a wife by next Christmas. That nearly caused the demise of the 2002 Christmas project.

Think about the scope creep that Santa has to deal with as well. First about 1.4 billion new children are born every year. That is quite a few new names and toys to have to estimate. Also, there is the checking of good versus bad that has to be worked out. I can tell you by experience that some kids can make a comeback! New technologies are being developed every day as well and it is harder and harder to keep the attention of our youth. What used to be wooded toys are now Wii's and Xbox's. Things move, make noise, and even appear to think nowadays. The cost of upgrading the workshop every year alone is staggering.

The teams change, the circumstances change, toys change, and yet year after year, the project date is made. There are over 800 appearances of Santa in the documented tales of his exploits and issue resolution practices in the ancient texts (again movies and TV!). Each and every time, Santa and his team find a way to deliver the project on time. For that, he is one of my top 5 mythical project managers of all time. Let the debate rage on for the other 4 slots! Who do you think and why?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why does the team need to see the schedule?

As part of my continuing series of addressing questions posed in my webinar, the next question to address asks:

"Do you have any suggestions for how to help your team of resources (who are untrained in PM concepts) understand what they are seeing in the schedule?"

I get this question quite a bit. In my opinion, I choose to not send the schedule to my team. I think I just heard the collective gasp. Before I get into what I do, let's discuss why I don't. When I am challenged on this thought in my speeches, I always ask, "What do you think happens when you send the full project plan?" Some of you out there may think that as soon as the resource gets the plan, they open it, print it, find their name and tasks, and study it to make sure they are ready to go. Although there are a few team members out there that might do this, the norm is to not even open the file. Most resources simply wait for the status meeting or for the e-mail to come to tell them to get started on their tasks.

So does it make sense to train all of the team members on how to read a project schedule? Also, what type of schedule? Several project managers write linearly based project schedules, meaning that their schedules go from Task 1 to Task 2 in the order in which they are to be performed. These schedules are against project theory as well. True project schedules should be written from WBS's and network diagrams. If this is the case, then many of the schedules are even more difficult to read because the tasks are grouped by deliverable and may increase the complexity of the predecessors.  So what do I suggest? To-do lists.

I send each team member a report of their tasks. It is a simple report that shows the task name, start date, finish date, their estimate, and the actual hours that have been reported. It is sorted by start date and I show all of their tasks for the project. This tells them what they are really interested in, what do I need to do and when do I need to have it done?

Some people object asking, "What about the predecessors? Don't the resources need to see what needs to complete before they can get started?" My general answer is no. Most of the time, the predecessors came from the resource during the WBS/Network Diagramming session anyway. They already know what needs to complete before they can get started.
This approach has been very successful for me. It is simple, effective, and keeps team members focused on what they are supposed to do. I have also written Visual Basic code that automates the creation of Excel spreadsheets as task lists from Project. Another approach is to use the Reports->Assignments->To-Do List report that comes standard with Microsoft Project.

Whatever the format, just make sure that what the team member receives isn't information overload. This will allow you to communicate more effectively with each team member. It also allows you to manage risk and risk dates more efficiently by not revealing all of the dates to all of the resources. This isn't a shady practice or something you are trying to hide. It is simply your information to manage.

At least that is my opinion, please feel free to share yours.

Until next time,


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stroke the Ego of Your Stakeholders!

In the continuing series of answering questions asked after my presentations of Stop Playing Games! here is the next question I received:

"When you stated that Project Managers don't publish negative facts about the project for fear of backlash from their stakeholders, you mentioned that you should stroke their do you do that?"

That is a great question and  a technique that is not utilized often enough, in my opinion.  Project managers are often naysayers or are viewed as the ones who are very negative.  I think part of it is how we were taught.  We were taught to own the project.  Success and is the project manager's to own.  I think we should own the leadership, but there is a fundamental flaw in this belief.  It is not our scope, it is not our budget, most likely it is not our what exactly do we own?  Where did it become the norm that the project manager owns the outcome of a decision that they did not make?

Rolling with this theory, if we don't own it...then all we can do is facilitate it.  PM's must remember to ask for what they need and push the decision back to where it belongs.....the stakeholder or sponsor.  This is where we stroke the ego.  Make sure that you ask them...not tell them.....what they would like to do.  It goes something like this:

Mr. or Ms. Sponsor, we have an opportunity on this project, but I really need your help.  In order to secure the date that you have asked for, we would need to get an additional three resources.  However, we could move some scope around as well.  Not sure what the best answer is and I could really use your advice.

This pushed the decision back to the sponsor, but also shows that you respect them and their opinion.

So the technique is to truly value their opinion and bring them into the decision making process.  I have seen so many projects fail due to unrealistic demands where the date, budget, score, or how unrealistic the demands are discussed with the sponsors or stakeholders.  In my experience, if you get the data that you need, come up with options not problems, and present them in a respectful manner, you will be more successful.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

Hoping you too can find your life's passion,


Sunday, November 7, 2010 it really bad?

The great debate for project padding an estimate bad?  In my new book, I say that padding is one of the worst things that you can do because it proves that you do not believe your own estimates!

As part of a new series of blog posts, I will be responding to questions that have been sent me in response to the book Stop Playing Games!  The first question that I received was, "Padding is for known and unknown risks and events in the future.  Why do you say padding is bad?"

Padding is actually not for known and unknown risks.  It is actually a blanket percentage that a project manager will put on top of their estimates just to cover them from blowing their budget.  It generally isn't scientific or have any thought pattern behind it other than lumping a generic percentage on top.  This practice has been around for ages.  We have conditioned our executives by doing this practice.  They have learned that they can cut 10-20% of the budget without consequence.  They are aware of the padding and are accustomed to chopping off a generic percentage.  Thus, the game is played.  Can you out add a generic percentage that your sponsor will cut?

This generally all occurs without too much conversation as well.  This game is played and is played in silence.  To combat this, there should be an honest conversation.  The project manager should be honest in their estimates and use risk and risk information to plan for a true contingency.  This is not padding, but a practice known as contingency planning.  Once the contingency is planned and the reasons for it are documented, present that to the sponsor.  When they try to remove a generic percentage, challenge them with the planned contingency and explain why it is there.

Having an honest conversation and talking about risk versus padding can lead to a true budget fostered in trust between the sponsor and project manager.  That is a fantastic place to start!

For now,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Graduation Photo

As I mentioned in my last post, I have just graduated from PMI's Leadership Institute Masters Class.  Here is the official photo from graduation.  What a great group of people!

Within my class, we had several people from outside the United States including Chile, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  I have been forever changed by this group of people.  It makes me reflect on the entire experience yet again.

Many people have asked me about the class and what it is all about.  Essentially, PMI picks 25 volunteer leaders from around the world to go through leadership training.  Although each class is a bit modified from the last, we went through the SDI (Strength Deployment Inventory), a 360 degree review, and also received some top notch personal coaching.  We also discussed several books and leadership methodologies.  Throughout the experience, you gain tremendous insight into you.  The class in the beginning is a selfish adventure, and for once it should be!  As you begin to share the insights that you have learned, you begin to learn about the classmates around you.  PMI makes this investment in the class with the hope that the 25 graduates then go out and motivate other great leaders to get or stay involved in PMI.

We met three times in person and several times over the phone.  We first met in Orlando, FL.  At the end of the first meeting, we were no longer strangers, but we had yet to become family.  It wasn't until the second class in Scottsdale, AZ that I realized how much these people had gotten to me!  I believe Jorge said, "It was like a Christmas party"  The hugs, handshakes, and genuine fellowship the class had made the whole Scottsdale class amazing.  The third class was in Washington, D.C. where we wrapped up.

After this picture was taken was a weird feeling for me.  At this point, it was over.  Class dismissed.  All of the other times, the next meeting was planned out and we knew where we would see each other again.  Once graduation was done, there were no more appointments.  No more scheduled meetings.  Just....done.  I guess I am still processing that feeling.

We are now part of a distinct group of LIMC Alumni.  We join the last 10 years of classes (roughly 300-400 people) and begin to build relationships with them.  I just wish I knew, if ever, this group would ever be together again.

This picture goes on my wall in the office.  It will remind me of the experience, the class, the investment PMI made in us, and of course my family.

Cheers to the LIMC 2010 Class 2.  Forever in my heart!

May you find your life's passion,


Thursday, October 14, 2010


I am just now recovering from an incredible 10 days at PMI Global World. There is only one word that comes to mind when I sum up the experience: passion.

Passion for the profession, passion for leadership, passion in interactions, passionate conversations, just plain passion. I like to say that I have a passion for the profession that is contagious. However, the passion that I felt from all of you out there was overwhelming.

This week was a culmination of many things. I had the pleasure of graduating from PMI's Leadership Institute Masters Class. I met 25 people from around the world and shared a year long journey with them that was truly life changing. We entered the class as 25 individuals, we left as a family. I was blessed to be one of the co-presenters at our graduation. The class had written down some of their reflections of the experience and I had the chance to share that with attendees of the Leadership Institute Meeting. I can't tell you how many times I fought back tears during that speech. Their comments and just being around them ignited one true feeling: passion.

After graduation, I attended the Leadership Institute which is a gathering of volunteer leaders from all over the world to discuss PMI, it's growth, our challenges, and grow in camaraderie. I heard fantastic presentations including phenomenal speakers such as Rachel Paulson and Troy Hazard to name just a couple. The amount of times I speak at events I am always a critic, but I was blown away by their messages and talent. Their delivery had one key element: passion.

As the Leadership Institute meeting ended, it was nearing the official release of Stop Playing Games. There were so many coincidences occurring on that day. My number in college was 11, the date of the release was October 11, and I was speaking in room 11, on Columbus Day which I reference in the speech and the book. It was a fantastic experience. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of the folks behind RMC Project Management: Rita Mulcahy's company. I was struck by their closeness as they embarked on the first major event since Rita's passing. Only one word could describe how they did their jobs: passion.

I thought that so many things would be ending this week. Another Global World is in the books, another book has been launched, and the Masters Class is complete. I took some time to reflect on the experiences. My passion for this profession has grown. My passion for the people, projects, companies, and leaders has grown. My passion to continue the path that I am on and see where this life takes me has grown.

There were several people that I had a chance to meet and others that we had a chance to develop or continue our friendships. To each of you, thank you. There are others that I had a chance to share deeper conversations and passionate commitments to do more, to each of you.......let's make sure we follow through!

For all of you reading this post, take a moment to reflect on the word passion. I personally believe it is the key to a fulfilling career and life. If you don't feel that in your heart, then it is time to find out what you really want. What is it that you are looking for? In fact, it is the new challenge. Find your life's passion. For me, I can honestly say that it is here. Being with you, sharing these experiences, and living life to the fullest. Thank you to all who contribute to this profession and those of you that went out of your way these past 10 days to help grow the passion in my heart.

May you find your life's passion,


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Releases October 11!

The official launch of "Stop Playing Games" is here!

I was blown away and humbled when I went to the RMC Booth tonight at the PMI Global World Congress in Washington DC.  Here are some pictures:

There had been talk of some marketing pushes from RMC, but I did not expect to have an entire corner of their booth dedicated to the launch.  The team at RMC have been incredible to work with.  Now it is up to you!  Please help support the launch of the book by either stopping by tomorrow and picking it up at the official launch, or you can go to the Project Management Bookstore to purchase your copy!

For those of you that are attending the speech at 11:15 tomorrow morning in DC, I can't wait to share this material with you.  We will be posting pictures of the launch and event tomorrow as soon as we can.  Lets have some fun! 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

12 Days to Launch!

I know I have promised to get back to my normal blogging, but things have been very busy and quite exciting!  Since I last checked in, the book cover has gone final:

And the final preparations for the marketing and booth are being made.  Check out the flyer!

It has been a blessing working with the team at RMC Project Management.  It is going to be a fantastic event.  In addition, I will be graduating from PMI's Leadership Institute Masters Class October 7.  I will be at Global World from the 4-14th, so come find me!  Let's have a blast!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My New Book!

October 11th, 2010 is the official launch date of my latest book:  Stop Playing Games!

Here is the first public look at the cover:

The official launch will be right after my speech at PMI Global World in Washington, DC.  Please come out and support the launch!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Breakthough Moment

I get asked often what it is that I do and why do I do it.  Being a project manager for a living is very tough to explain.  The easiest way to state it is that when companies want to improve, change, or try something new, they look to project manager's to make it happen.  That is the easiest part.  The harder part is trying to explain why I do what I do.  It means regular travel, long hours, and often work that goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  Maybe I just like to torture myself!

In reality, I love the challenge.  I love being a part of the creative process and watching great minds come together to accomplish something that has never been done before.  Most of all, I love the breakthrough moment.  It is a rare moment that happens only once or maybe twice on a project.  It is the moment that means everything is going wrong, stress is high, and failure is imminent.  Then, the team comes together and finds a solution, or a "breakthrough" and the project gains momentum.  Being a part of that moment is like being the star on the playing field making it happen for their team.  It is like solving the great mystery or finding something sentimental to you that you thought you lost forever.  It is an incredible feeling.

I remember having those feelings even when things did not go the way they were supposed to.  I remember working on a project that was absolutely doomed from the start.  However, the team and I were being great optimists and putting a tremendous amount of effort in to the project.  While the work was being completed, it was hard, depressing, and at times demoralizing.  Yet there were two distinct breakthrough moments on the project.  When they occurred, the entire team grew closer.  From time to time, I will hear from some of those team members and there is a bond between us that is very difficult to explain.  The only thing to say is that we went to the ends of the earth and back.....together.

Did you have a breakthrough moment?  If so, share!

Change is in you!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Pushing Back...Is It OK?

It is amazing to me the difference between the way that project management is tought versus the way it is practiced.  If you follow the PMBOK, the PM is expected to have quite a bit of influence.  If you look at how project management is practiced, it seems that most PM's are just order takers.  For instance, in Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep, she goes over what she has coined as PMI'isms.  Some of the key ones are:

- PMI stresses the fact that a project manager must work within the existing systems and culture of the company.  They call these enterprise environmental factors and they are imputs to many processes.

- Percent complete is an almost meaningless number.  Project managers should not spend time collecting useless ingformation.  It is better to control the project and  know the status through other actions.

- A project manager has authority and power.  She can say "No" and work to control the project to the benefit of the customer.

- If at all possible, all the work and all the stakeholders are identifieid before the project begins.

- The work breakdown structure (WBS) is the foundation of all project planning and should be used on every project.

- Many project managers do not properly plan their projects.  Therefore, the work they do while the project work is ongoing is vastly different from what should be done.

-  There is a basic assumption on the exam that you have company project management policies (son't laugh, we will get there) and that you will adapt them for use on your projects.  These may include project management methodologies, risk procedures, and quality procedures.  So, assume you have them when you take the exam.

Many of you may scoff at these suggestions.  Here is the key.....Rita is absolutely right!  She couldn't be more right!  So then why is project management practiced in such a different manner?  Most organizations just truly do not understand the profession.  Our day is coming.  Our day is on the horizon.  The day where the project manager can say no, can push back, can be fearless in the delivery of messages.

Until that day comes, you must still try to follow the principles of project management.  Why?  Because they work!  The days of dictating dates and budgets while demanding scope are coming to an end.  Companies simply can't continue to operate with the blinders on.

Project managers, do not be afraid!  It is ok to push back!  It is ok to question the date!  It is ok to provide options!  I day you will be heard!

Keep pushing,


Monday, July 12, 2010

New Blog Listing

My log has just been listed at  Thanks team!  Please visit this site as they have a tremendous amount of links to some great project management blogs!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top Ten PM Desktop Clients

Here is a great review of the latest in software for project managers.  It is missing some of the open source proejct tracking tools like Open Workbench (  Good hunting!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Creating Proper Metrics

There has been quite a bit of debate around the selection of metrics for project reporting. Most organizations simply look at the "On Time, On Budget" statement and feel that is an acceptable status. Then there are the organizations that try to invest in Earned Value which is a technique that is widely taught in project management circles. The appeal of Earned Value is the reporting of % complete and % of budget expended were not sufficient in telling executives where the project actually stood. Earned Value gives two metrics (Cost Performance Index and Schedule Performance Index) that is engineered to give a quicker and more efficient status to executives. The problem with Earned Value is that it is extremely complex to maintain and most project managers do not have adequate information (like estimated hours to complete and work completed versus hours expended) to create an accurate picture. This is where the stoplight report comes in. Most companies rely on the subjective guess and feelings of the project manager on where the project cost, budget, and quality stand. So what metrics should be reported? The list can vary based on industry and corporate culture, but the following list can help create some metrics to get you started:

• Cost and Schedule: These metrics are still important and understanding where the project stands from a budget and time perspective is still vital information. It just can't be the only information provided.

• Project Plan Quality: How many tasks show a past due start date or a past due finish date? When was the last time the project plan was updated? How many times have the dates slid or moved on the plan? These metrics will show how closely the project manager is managing the plan. Also, by publishing these metrics, it gives the project manager notice that the plan must be managed.

• Project Issues Raised: How many issues have been raised? Too many can be a sign of a project in trouble and too few can be a sign of the project not being managed appropriately.

• Project Issue Close Rate: How many have been closed by the due date? Do issues have a due date? Metrics like this one will make sure that the team is putting appropriate focus on the issues of the project.

• Risks Planned For: How many risks have been raised and planned for? Again, too many shows a risky project and too few shows one that has not been managed appropriately.

• Meeting Attendance: How many meetings have been called and how well attended were they? This helps understand the effectiveness of called meetings. If there are too many or they are not well attended, or too few, this could be a sign.

• Communication Plan Execution: How many communications did the project manager plan during the project and were they effectively communicated? For instance, if they said an issue log would be created and disseminated every Thursday, did they send one every Thursday? This will assist in ensuring that everyone is getting the information that they planned to receive for the project.

• Decisions Requested and Received: How many decisions or issues have been raised to the stakeholders and/or sponsors and how many have had appropriate decisions? This shows the attention that the key people affected by the project are paying. If a decision seems to drag or items requested are overdue, this can put the project at risk.

These are just a few items that can be tracked to paint a clearer picture of how the project is being managed and the level of trust you can put into the reports received. Utilizing a broader metric base will allow you to give a confidence level to the reports and allow you to focus on the proper problem areas. For instance, if a project does not seem to be moving, where does the blame lie? It is easy to simply blame the project manager. However, if the project manager is waiting on the CEO of the company to make decisions and the decisions have not been made, the project manager may be wary to raise a red flag. It is important to make sure that all information is level set so that the most complete picture can be painted for statuses. Then, you truly have the right information in front of you to make the proper adjustment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Death of a Pioneer - RIP Rita Mulcahy

I just got the sad news.  Rita Mulcahy, pioneer of the industry and the best selling project manager of all time passed away.  Here is the announcement:

Rita Mulcahy, Founder of RMC Project Management and the best-selling project management author of all-time, passed away on Saturday, May 15th 2010, from complications related to a five-year battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). She was 50. Rita leaves behind husband Tim Mulcahy, current Vice-President and Chief Legal Counsel for RMC, and two children, ages 7 and 5.

Rita was diagnosed with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer in September of 2005, just days before two scheduled speaking appearances at PMI Global Congress in Toronto, Ontario. Given only months to live, Rita spent the next five years privately fighting her disease with a continuous regimen of both Western and Holistic treatments. During that time she continued to work, authoring five more best-selling books—including one with Fortune 100 leader Cisco Press—and delivering classes and keynote speeches across the globe. She also spent a great deal of time growing her business, and over the last five years watched RMC expand its training and product distribution to nearly 50 regions worldwide.

After her diagnosis, Rita worked feverishly to build RMC into one of the fastest-growing training organizations in the industry. Today, her thriving company is filled with some of the most sought-after experts in the fields of instructional design and delivery, learning development, and educational technology. Going forward, the Management Team at RMC will continue to leverage Rita's marketing-leading methodologies and learning techniques to develop more award-winning products, classes and e-learning courses in Project Management and numerous other related disciplines.

Even though Rita is no longer with us on a day-to-day basis, her unique and highly effective teaching style will live on through the hundreds of thousands of products and courses RMC delivers worldwide each year. In 2010, the Project Management industry lost its most passionate leader, advocate and friend. We will feel her loss every single day.

If you have questions regarding this release, we ask that you please direct all inquiries to Eric Rudolf, Director of Marketing at, or via phone at (952) 846-4484 420. Thank you.

Like many of you, I was certified through Rita's breakthrough learning system for the PMP.  There are others that do it now and many more options available.  However, she was truly the pioneer.  I got to talk with her a couple times and I have been blessed to have my third book picked up by the company she helped create.  She was a fascinating woman who really loved what she did.  She is an inspiration to us all.  RIP Rita, from the thousands of people you helped worldwide.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To PMP or not to PMP, is that a question?

I am going to take my turn to weigh in on this debate.  As with any issue or opinion, some of you may agree and some of you may disagree.  The best part is that we have the opportunity to discuss and take sides!

Before I go any further into this post, yes, I know many PMP's who could not manage themselves out of a paper bag.  Yes, I know many PMP's who do not seem to know squat about project management.  There, I admitted it.  But does that mean the PMP is totally invalid?

I have seen many postings and articles debating the value of the PMP.  The Project Management Institute (PMI) has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years.  One of the key reasons is the administering of the PMP exam and the credential itself.  Professionals seem to be deeply divided on whether this is a credible certification.  I think there is only one opinion that really matters.....yours.

I tweeted earlier this week that I thought a PMP was very beneficial.  One person responded to me that "Street cred is earned by exhibiting knowledge."  I couldn't agree more.  It made me think back to a time earlier in my career.  Due to a host of issues, I did not finish college on time.  I went into the workforce.  I even had my PMP before my college degree.  I remember responding to a job advertisement for an internal consultant.  I had all of the skills necessary and knew if I got the chance to interview, the job would be mine.  I couldn't even get past the first screening.  The reason?  No college degree.  When I was in school, I was studying for radio and television broadcasting.  This job was nowhere near that line of study and I had years of "Street Cred."  Couldn't even get an interview.  It was then that I decided to finish college and get my degree.  However, there were easy options thrown at me.  Degree mills or cheap ways to say that you had a degree.  I did mine the old fashioned way.  Hard work.  I did have a push though.  The current job I had been working stated that a college degree was necessary.  Even though I already had the job, took a 40% pay cut to accept the position, and was truly over-qualified, I would have lost it if I had not enrolled to finish my degree prior to joining the company.  I ask you, had I finished my degree when I was supposed to, would that make me any more qualified?  The better question is, if I need to distinguish myself from others, is a degree necessary?  Here is the wierd part.  Those who have degrees are shouting yes at the computer screen right now.  Those who do not have degrees are ready to comment how they were able to succeed without one.

I think it is the same for PMP's.  There are several classes of people out there.  There are those that agree with the principles, believe in the certification and get it for the right reasons.  There are those that simply got one to try to get a better job or salary.  There are those that got them through a certification mill or by doctoring their applications.  There are those that will never get one at all.  The question really is, which one of "those" do you want to be?

I agree with the "Street Cred" tweet that I received earlier this week.  Once you have the opportunity to show your knowledge and talents, will you follow the principles that you agreed to when you signed the ethics pledge?

I personally believe that the certification IS valid.  I believe that it is worthwhile and I am proud to not only have a PMP, but to participate in many levels of PMI.  I think those that received theirs through unpure motives will weed themselves out in the end.  I think those that go after it cheaply will see it leave just as easily.  There is a bigger question out there than this one.  If a company is going to require a PM to have a PMP, then the company should be willing to follow the process!  The answer to that issue is..........another post for another day.

Hope this post finds you well!

Rick A. Morris, PMP <- (and earned it!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beyond the ID number is a person....

I get asked often about why I got into consulting and started my own business. I can give you many cliché's and other random comments. What it really boils down to is two things: my family and my father.

First and foremost is my family. The only way that I knew how to protect the work/life balance that I want and provide for them was to do it on my own. I did become cynical of the corporate world though because of the example that I had from my father.

In 1978 three men, Ken Fisher, Gordon Mann, and my dad Dudley Morris started a company called USSI. They wrote automation software for insurance companies and were pioneers in their industry. USSI is still thriving and is privately held. I am not sure of the practice today, but when I was growing up, I could always remember the "Corporate Cruise" and the stories of the Christmas parties. The cruise was a reward to the entire company for hitting their goals. The company would take everyone and a significant other on a three day cruise to the Bahamas as a reward for hitting their sales and profitability goals. I never got to go on a cruise, but I loved hearing the stories about it. The other thing I remember was the Christmas party. Every year Mr. Mann would play "Let's Make A Deal" (which is funny since my high school friend Wayne Brady hosts that show now). I remembered how the company was a family. These days, everyone seems more focused on corporate liability than rewards. Christmas parties or gatherings like that are also a thing of the past.

I lost my father in 1992. A few months ago, I stopped by the office of USSI. Keith Fisher (Ken's son) is now running the company. He called in a couple of people that were still there that worked with my father. It was a special moment for me. I never knew how much growing up in the midst of my father's company impacted me until a few years ago.

My whole career, I had been searching for that "family" feeling. I had been on a search to be able to share those war stories and wear where I worked as a badge of honor on my sleeve. I believe I was born into the wrong generation for that. I fear that we have become just numbers, not people in many organizations. I came close to those family feelings only to have them not live up to my expectations in the end. I had several instances in my career that shaped who I am:

• One of my first real professional jobs pitched that family feeling. It turned out to be one of the most demanding and abusive environments. I remember being written up two days before my wedding for leaving the office 10 minutes before 9PM to pick up my tux before the tux shop closed. The quote that always stuck was, "I thought you were a team player."

• A colleague of mine had made a huge mistake. It was blamed on me. I thought it would pass and I was protecting my colleague, so I took the heat for it. I was forced to apologize in front of the whole branch office as to what I did. I also was subjected to what amounts to purgatory for the next 4 months until I eventually had to quit.

• I was 180% of my plan at a position. My colleague was 30% of plan. The company was forced to downsize. I was eliminated over my colleague because it would be more expensive on paper for the company to keep me because I had over-achieved and my bonus was more.

• I was running a team. Our first year, we had exceeded all expectations. When it came review time, I had rated them all as such. I was told that I could only have one person, maybe two exceed my expectations. If they all exceeded my expectations, then the problem was my expectations. I then had to find ways to score them so they fell below the grade. I had huge problems with that one.

• I was running a company that was really on the way up. The company had to shut down due to financial issues beyond my control. I felt like my family was ripped from me and my eternal optimism was almost completely shattered.

I am sure that many of you have had war stories like these. I think that this can change. I think that this economy and the recent difficulties can push us into a new era. The financial crisis that we have all faced has exposed quite a bit. We have been able to discuss "Too big to fail," executive bonuses, and how the corruption of so few can lead to the destruction of so many. I think it is time that we look beyond the employee ID and start valuing people again.

This can start with you. Find someone on your team that has really gone above and beyond. Stop by their cube and tell them how much they are appreciated. Do not use terms like productivity, focus, or other corporate jargon. Thank them for being who they are. Thank them for their contribution. Show them real appreciation. Make sure that when decisions are being made that we think of them as individuals, not as numbers on paper.

I recently watched an organization who was utilizing their staff at an average of 123% be told to cut 10% of their staff due to budget concerns. Any time there is an arbitrary number, that is just paper pushing and numbers games. It is easy to look at a spreadsheet and come up with those decisions. It is much more difficult to look others in the eye and come up with those decisions. I see companies make lump sum cuts to their staff, yet never cut projects or initiatives. They feel that the work will just become "absorbed." This means that those that are left are now working 150% of their time and are "thankful" just to have the position. I fear that the financial bubble is about to cause an employee bubble. If we keep seeing them as numbers, that is what will happen.

As for me, I know that my greatest impact is to have my own business so I can work with the executives of other companies and have frank conversations. It is what it is. I am seeing great strides out there. We are collecting data that shows it is time to invest in people again. We are seeing data right now that shows if you focus on the work/life balance of your employees, the numbers actually improve, not decline. Take time to talk to your employees, team members, or colleagues. Remember that beyond the ID number is a person and you can't go wrong!

If you have similar war stories or comments, please share!

This day is THE day,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Payment terms......sheesh!

I have been dealing with quite a bit of issues lately with payment terms.  This is something that I find kind of funny.  It appears that the only dates that are truly flexible is when one company owes another company money.  It is even something that you are really not supposed to discuss.  Many companies have payment terms on their invoices.  Usually it is a net 30 days or net 45 days and almost always there is a penalty clause.  However, the clauses are almost impossible to enforce.

This is not the same for the consumer credit world.  If you are one second late paying a credit card or a bill, there are late fees, percentage increases, etc.  There is no grace period for an overdrawn bank account.  The consumer has no choice but to pay.  If they do not pay, then there are collection agencies and other means to recover their money.  I once received a notice in the mail that I owed $0.04 to a company.  It took them $1.35 in supplies and fees to send me the notice!  When I disregarded the notice, they threatened to send me to collections.  I stopped it there, but I did kind of want to see if someone would actually call me for it.  But then again, I knew that there would be $100.00 worth of fees put on top of the collection activity, so I just taped 4 pennies to an index card and mailed it in.

However, businesses are not the same.  I just watched a thriving business go bankrupt because their primary customer withheld payment for no apparent reason to the point that the company missed a payroll.  If you try to enforce penalties, then many companies refuse to pay it.  Also, collections seems to cost more than the recovery of the money.  It is just weird.

It is interesting to watch a business fight for longer payment terms while never honoring the original terms.  They will ask for a change from Net 30 to Net 45 and have payment averages of Net 70.  As a small business, I often have to make phone calls or inquire about payment.  I normally get a very polite response, but it is also very nonchalant.  I will call and say something like, "I am inquiring about invoice X that is 15 days past due.  Can you let me know when this will be paid?"  The answer is, "Oh yes sir, we are cutting a check a week from Friday and will put that in the mail."  You are so happy it is going to be paid that you generally accept the terms.

I know as consumers, we can act the same way, but there is also consequences that come as matter of fact as the behavior.  If businesses try to enforce it in the same terms, it strains the relationship or ends it.  For many companies, late payments are an honest mistake or are late by a few days due to process.  There are other organizations that pay late as a strategy.  I have personally seen a memo of one organization that outlines how to string their vendors along maximizing the "use" of their funds.

I also worked for a company that incented us on making sure that we ran a 45 day services to cash metric.  This meant we had 45 days from the day that we performed the service to collect payment.  We were incented on invoice on a monthly basis on good faith.  If we had an invoice go over 45 days services to cash, the company would pull back the incentive amount on your next check.  If you collected the money after the 45 days, then the company would give 50% of your incentive back.  There were many times that I was on my client's site at 44 days begging for a check with a FedEx envelope in my hand!

As a project manager, we are to ensure that contracts that we oversee and manage are compliant to the terms.  For most, this means to ensure the deliverables are complete to the specifications provided.  It usually ends there.  As responsible project managers, we should make sure that all terms are being adhered to.  As PMI states, the project manager is responsible for the relationship with the vendors and that both parties are treated fairly.  This should include payment terms as well.  What are your experiences?


Friday, April 9, 2010

My Blog is one of the Top 50!

I received this note today:

"I’m just writing this to let you know about a new featured post we just made over here at Mr. Manager entitled, “Top 50 Project Management Blogs.” I thought that both you and your readers at Project Management That Works! might find it to be an interesting article. Please do let me know if you have any feedback --'

I am very honored!!!  Thanks!!!!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It is all in how you take it......

One of the most overlooked options for most of us is the option to choose. In every situation and interaction, knowingly or unknowingly, we choose to feel how we feel. This is a very powerful concept once you understand how to harness the power. Let's look at some examples:

Someone just yelled to you, "Hey...idiot!" We turn around to see who shouted at us....and then we choose how we will react. If it is a long lost friend, the insult may have been a joke or term of endearment. We just laugh and shout back, "Who you calling idiot?" It is all a big laugh. What if when you turned around, you didn't know the person. This is where the choosing comes in. We may react by shouting the same thing that we did at our friend, "Who you calling idiot?" This time, it is not a big laugh but an escalating confrontation. The point is that we affix connotation to almost every situation in life. Many times, we unknowingly choose a negative connotation. Why is that?

I have been doing a tremendous amount of public speaking lately and I see all kinds of things from the front of the room:

• A guy is nodding off
• Someone just left the room
• Two people are whispering

I could take this as:

• A guy is nodding off - "Man, I am boring him to death!!!"
• Someone just left the room - "I have offended her. She doesn't like me."
• Two people are whispering - "They have lost interest in my message."

Or, I could take each situation as:

• A guy is nodding off - "He had a really late night, but he is trying to make it through because he really wants to be here"
• Someone just left the room - "There is an emergency she needs to deal with."
• Two people are whispering - "They are sharing how they will use the concepts tomorrow."

The truth is that I really do not know any of the reasons for this behavior. However, I can choose what connotation I want to place on the event. Since ultimately we can choose to affix the connotation, then it doesn't have to be negative.

This is applicable to personal relationships as well. There are so many fights and disagreements because of how we chose to take something versus what the intent was. For instance, I have a person in my life that seems to always want to one-up the situation. They try to affect my spouse. If they can't get to her, then they try to get to me. If they can't get to me then they try to get to my family members and so on. It is almost an obsessive compulsive behavior. It is as if their joy in life is putting down me or my family. However, that is me choosing a negative connotation to the behavior. Who knows the reason for the behavior, I really don't. So why should I attach a negative feeling to it? The answer is that I won't! When I observe the behavior, I just shake my head and say, "That's odd," and move on.

In business, I found out that I was a fantastic motivator and project manager. I also found out that I was not good at being a HR manager. My entire career had been spent influencing people that did not report to me on an organization chart. When I did have people report to me, I was awful at some of the key skill sets. I had a person that worked for me that no matter what I did, in their mind I was out to get them. There was a negative connotation placed on every action that I performed. Some of it was warranted and some of it was just plain unfair. I tried everything to build a relationship, but just could not do it. That bothered me for a very long time until I chose the connotation that I would affix to the situation. I looked at my efforts to rebuild the relationship and then came to the realization that I had done enough. I could look at myself in the mirror and honestly state that I tried everything I could to make the relationship work. After that point, the negativity and hurt feelings I had simply melted away.

Choosing how you take something is a very powerful technique. People will see somebody really happy and state, "I wonder why they are so happy!" The answer is that they choose to be. Making the decision to find the good in situations can have a transforming effect. If you don't believe me, just try it! If you think I am crazy, I will just choose a positive way to feel about it! ;)

It is all in how you take it.......

Choose to have a great day,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Afraid of giving estimates

It is amazing how many project plans there are out there that have published dates and the project manager will tell you that the team will not give them estimates.  If there are no estimates, how do we have a date?

Here is a simple fix for when you feel people will not give you estimates.  Simply ask them why!  This  honest approach will catch some off guard, but it will open a dialogue that may break down some barriers.

In my seminars and work with clients, I will ask many team members why they will not give estimates.  Here are some common responses:

- "I am afraid I will be held to it."
- "I am not sure what I am estimating."
- "I don't know what else may be asked of me during the time that I am supposed to be doing this work."
- "I won't really know a real estimate until I get started."

Each of those responses can be worked through.  To really be great at project management, you must earn the trust of your team.  They must know that whatever information they give you is going to benefit them, not work against them.  There seems to be quite a bit of mistrust towards the project manager.  A honest conversation can remove many of these fears or doubts and at least getting you and your team on the right page.

If they are truly unsure, walk them through PERT (Best Case, Most Likely, and Worst Case) estimations.  Then apply formulas or select where you think it will end up.  This will give them an opportunity to present a range of estimates and will give you the opportunity to actually have an idea of a true estimate.  Honest conversations really work!

Be safe out there!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Project Called......Life.

It has been a whirlwind week and it is only Wednesday!  In the last 2 weeks, I have given 8 speeches in 2 countries and 6 different cities.  I have also made major strides in seeing a huge dream of mine come to fruition.  I am so full of energy, inspiration, and adrenaline as I have seen a dream turn in to an action plan.  What was a wish now has a due date.  What was a vision now has a task list.  As I reflect, I am so blessed to have had an opportunity to learn, teach, and perform the art of project management.  I want to issue you this challenge:  Where is your project plan for your life?

Now I know there are many project managers that get a bit crazy with this and plan their lives down to the 10 minute increment, but that is not what I am talking about.  What I am talking about is the things that we do everyday are the skills and activities that people flock to hear in self-improvement seminars.  We tend to take these things for granted.  Think about it.  What is your plan for the next year?  If you were to attend a commercial course or go hear any variety of motivational speakers, the message is the same.  You must plan your success, it doesn't seek you out.

What are your goals for the coming year, two years, or five years?  What are the building blocks to achieve those goals?  What action can you take now to start down that path?  This is a work breakdown structure for your life!  Some of the most successful systems out there ask you to make a problem statement (i.e. scope).  Then list milestones (key deliverables) and then break the milestones into "mini-goals" (i.e. the next level of the WBS)  Then you take the mini-goals and create actionable tasks.  The final step is to schedule actual work against the actionable tasks, estimate effort and duration, and create a way to measure success.  Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the project plan for your life!

Try it!  It can really be powerful.  This year, my business partner and I set a five year goal and announced a concept.  Each day, I try to plan an activity to move us towards the concept.  In just the past week, the momentum is taking a life of its own and we went from a concept to a planned date, activity, and scope.  It is amazing that we have had the tools all along to assist ourselves in achieving the next level, we just are not using them to our benefit.  They say that the cobbler's kids have no shoes ;)

Let me end with this question.  What are you going to do tomorrow to take the next step in attaining your goals?  If you do not know, then start with your scope.  Then follow your instincts, project management can guide you the rest of the way.  Good luck!

No Day But Today,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Anytime I get too big for my britches..

I just have to come home.  Kids are incredible and I am so blessed to have two wonderful children.  They can light up the room, make you angry, make you laugh until it hurts, make you cry, and make you look inside yourself.  All of that can happen in just a couple of hours!

My daughter asked me this weekend about writing a book and she felt that she should write a book.  I took her up on her offer.  Throughout the weekend she was thinking of characters, stories, situations for the characters, and the general flow of the book.  It was truly an amazing process.  She is 9 years old and has an incredible imagination.  To see her eyes light up when she saw how it was all coming together is something I want to hold in my heart.

My son, who is 3, is fascinated with "Where The Wild Things Are."  I caught him looking at himself in the mirror and practicing his "monster" face.  He was practicing a scowl and getting his hands just right, and then would stomp in the room and announce that he was going to "Eat you up!"  We just laughed and laughed!

We also got a chance to step out for some beautiful weather and go to a park.  I forget how much fun it was as a kid to just be outside and run.  They ran themselves silly and you couldn't get the smile off of my face.

As I reflect on the time this weekend with my family, I look at my station in life.  The job is going well, new ideas and advancements for the company is growing.  The speaking career is really taking off and I am getting booked in Germany, Panama, Brazil, and all over the US.  I am in real negotiations with book #3 and have taken some major steps in advancing towards a life long dream.  Yet, the role that I think I will really be measured on is the role of a Father and Husband.  Was I the best that I could be for them?  Sometimes, I have to remember that the career is a means for them, not the end or the quest.

I took time this weekend to work on that life long dream.  Many are asking me what it is, yet, I do not want to jinx it or discuss it until it is a done deal.  That could be a couple of days, weeks, months, or even years before it happens.  As excited as I am about having a clear vision as to what my future holds, I am so glad that my kids reminded me this weekend of why I pursue this future.  Why I am pushing the career so hard right now.

We were playing a game and my daughter questioned if I really did know anything.  It made me laugh.  It is truly amazing how someone can look at you and hold you in  such high regard, love you as much as they do, yet can make sure that I keep things in perspective.  I hope you take time as you read this to reflect on what is important in your life.  What the quest is really for or why we do what we do.  Realize that "tomorrow" is sometimes too long to wait to make time for what is important.

There really is no day but today,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

A lesson from Undercover Boss

Have you had a chance to see this show?  It is on CBS and has CEO's go undercover in their organization to get a sense of what it is like on the front lines.  The messages have been amazing.

The lesson that I get from the show is to never be afraid to roll up your sleeves and participate at the ground level.  This gives the unique perspective that many lose touch with.  We all have many ideas on how to run an organization or improve operations.  If we are lucky enough to set policies and make key decisions for a company, we rarely get to see the impact.  We also forget at times how each job is an important factor in how the overall organization runs.

Key Executives from organizations such as Waste Management and 7-11 are participating in this show and learning lessons that change their behaviors.  They see first hand how their policies are being carried out.  For instance, Larry O'Donnell, President of Waste Management, was very focused on efficiencies.  He wanted to ensure that everyone was a productive as possible.  Then he saw how one of the plants were carrying out his effeciencies.  They were docking double the amount of time they were late back from lunch.  This was something he did not anticipate.

Joe De Pinto, CEO of 7-11 saw how their charitable plans were not being followed.  A fantastic idea that was lacking in execution.  He also was taken aback by the people that really made the operation tick.  It is a lesson we should all learn.  When is the last time we truly walked a mile in someone else's shoes?  When is the last time we saw the impact of a decision?

For project sponsor's out there, when is the last time you really understood the impacts of the cost, schedule, and quality triangle?  If you are not sure, maybe it is time for you to become the undercover boss.

No day but today,


Friday, February 12, 2010

You have three choices...

This will be a short post, but it was on my mind.

I was completing my seminar with an organization and I received a question that I get often:

"What if none of this stuff works? What if the organization refuses?"

Unfortunately, there are really only three choices.

1) Persevere - You can work with the organization and continue to educate and be a positive force in changing the overall culture. If you truly follow the process of making emotional conversation unemotional (documented in my book) then through perseverance, will, and success, the culture WILL change. I have watched it occur over and over again.

2) Accept - If you feel that nothing you try will ever make a difference, then accept it for what it is. In essence, quit whining about it! ;)

3) Move On - If you feel that you can't persevere or accepting the results is not your style, then the only choice left is to leave the organization. I know that it can be difficult in these times, but if you can't live with the culture and do not have the perseverance to change it, then it is your only other option.

Understanding the three choices and being resolute on which one fits you and your situation can go a long way in making the first step. Once the decision is made (and of course, I will often choose #1) then you can focus on making the difference.

I promised it would be short!

No day but today,


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

But We Still Get to Work.........

I recently did a speech in Austin, TX.  One of the individuals attending asked a great question and I have thought about it ever since.

For those of you that have seen me, I often use an example of variance in estimates by asking someone how long it takes them to get to work.  Usually, it is between 300-500% variance.  I then explain that it is something that we do every day, but we have a wide variance.  If we have a variance on a known activity, how can we possibly select a date in the future on something that we have never done and be accurate? 

Someone in the audience raised their hand and said, "Yet, we still get to work on time.  If not, we would be fired!"  A great observation.  My response to it was that there is a wide acceptance of being late due to unforeseen circumstances.  However, I have thought about the question further and wanted to expand the answer.

First, there are several adjustments when we start a new job.  We may leave really early to ensure that we are at work on time and then slowly leave later and later until we settle on the right time.  There are also times where we can't leave any earlier due to having to leave a child at daycare or other circumstances.  In almost all cases, we come to an agreement with ourselves and our employer about what is and is not acceptable.

Second, there is acceptance of things beyond our control.  If there is a major accident on the highway and someone is not to work on time, the assumption is that they are caught in traffic.  In fact, many people will defend the missing person with this excuse without truly knowing the cause.  If the daycare opened late, the employee simply apologizes when they do get to work.

Third, the number of times early and late generally fall within the probability distribution that people estimate.  When you ask them how long it takes to get to work, their first response will follow the most likely distribution plus or minus a standard deviation.

Therefore, the case still stands.  If we can't guarantee how long it takes us to get to work, even though some of us have done it thousands of times because there are just things beyond our control, then how can we ask several people to perform tasks they may have never done before and be able to guarantee a date and time of being finished?

The point of all of this is that project manager's dates of completion are only our best guess or estimation.  We have a tremendous toolset available to help select the date, yet we are still predicting the unknown.  If we could guarantee the date, then we are in the wrong business.  Maybe we should have been stockbrokers!  Just a thought.....

No Day But Today,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Metrics that Matter!

To me, data rules all!  In any situation, I need to define a metric to measure, measure it, and then utilize the data to make my point.  I was recently working with a client and we wanted to define a metric that would help prove the value of their project management efforts.  Like many clients, they have over 100 defined projects and 5 project managers.  To combat this, they have created several project lead positions to try to fix the project to manager ratio.  However, that just takes more time away from the project managers.  The problem is, how do you represent this?

We decided that there should be four "buckets" of time the project managers should use to track their time on each project that they work on.  They are:

-  Planning - Any time performing true planning activities
-  Communication - Any time in meetings, typing e-mails, handling phone calls, etc.
-  Administrative - Any time filling out project management systems, creating meeting minutes, etc.
-  Mentoring - Time spent helping the "project leads".

This should give us a total percentage of productive time the project managers used.  We should then be able to correlate project progress and status to the percentage of time in each category.

I will post back in a couple of months the results that we found, but felt that may help others out there trying to find the same information.

No day but today,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Lesson in Class....

I look everywhere for lessons, quotes, and motivational snippets to share with my followers.  Many of you also know that I am a big University of Tennessee fan.  I just watched the University go through it's own bit of recession.  I do not mean to harp on sports or Tennessee, but when it comes to communications in times of crisis, I couldn't resist sharing this quote.

Tennessee had taken a huge risk in hiring Lane Kiffin as their head coach.  When Lane came in, he immediately started making high profile remarks against solid programs such as Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama.  He made accusations and tabloid type rumors as sensationalism.  We all wrote that off as a young and cocky coach making a splash.  He later stated that it was a strategy to land high profile recruits which paid off when some of the top recruits chose Tennessee at the last minute.  I defended these actions to friends (and really to myself) because of the results.  I would tell people who would ask me that he had to get in the national spotlight to make up for time lost in recruiting.  I always had that uneasy feeling about the antics, yet I would try to reason them away.  For those of you have read my book, Kiffin was no doubt firing Scud missiles!  He continued his antics until finally, he shocked the entire Tennessee family by abruptly leaving Tennessee for his dream job of USC.

As tough as that was to hear, my wife and I had several discussions about what Tennessee players must feel like.  Many of them decided to come to Tennessee because of him and then he just left.  As many of these players who are learning to become men, the sense of abandonment must be overwhelming.  Less than 3 days later, Tennessee hired Derek Dooley as their new head coach.

Of course the press has had a field day with this story.  There are many young men out there searching for which program will suit them and the media loves controversial stories.  There are reports that Kiffin and his staff are telling Tennessee recruits not to attend class so they can get around some rules and enroll to USC with them.  Many of the same antics he did when he came to Tennessee, so nobody should be surprised that he is doing that now that he left Tennessee.  Among all of the controversy and widespread speculation, Tennessee hires Coach Dooley.  Roughly four hours from taking the job, Coach Dooley is standing at the podium for a press conference.  As reported by

A radio reporter asked Dooley if he would call any Southern California recruits and ask them not to go to class, making reference to reports that previous staff members had done the same to some of the Vols' mid-term enrollees when leaving UT.

Dooley just waved his right hand.

"Look guys, if you're going to look for sound bites and things from me that's going to attack other programs and disparage people, that's just not how I am," Dooley said. "I'm worried about Tennessee. I'm worried about what we need to get our program going, and I'm going to always keep my focus on that.

"I think when you're worrying about somebody else, what other people are doing, then you're not taking care of your own house. We got plenty to be feeling good about in this program, and that's what we should keep our focus on. The times of worrying about what happened are over."

There was a round of applause from a shocked community praying for comfort.  It would have been so easy to make a remark against Kiffin or to make a joke to try to get a quick win from the fanbase.  It would have been understandable to try to say something funny to hopefully win some favor from a hurt Tennessee program.  Instead, with dignity and respect, he made a commitment to focus on what we can do and to leave the grandstanding and headline grabbing remarks for other coaches.  To me, that was a lesson in class.  Welcome Coach Dooley.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What about my capacity?

I work with many organizations that really want to understand the capacity of their IT organization.  Rarely do the ask about the capacity of their project managers.  Building on the theme that not everyone can do project management, then maybe capacity to do projects starts at that level.  What if the organization limited the number of projects they can truly accomplish by the capacity of their project management staff?

I had a chance to build a PMO based on a very valid model.  They had a consultant perform a study about the type and length of projects and the demand that is required to handle what the organization wanted to complete.  It was determined that roughly 35 projects per year was the maximum for the company and a PM could run up to 5 of those projects during the year.  Therefore, the staffing model was set to 7 project managers.  We ended up completing 47 projects in the first year, but the expectation was set and the management of the company recognized the value that true project management can deliver.  So how do you determine the capacity or number of projects?

The best way to determine the capacity of your project management practice is to first establish tiers.  Projects should be classified in 3-4 tiers.  Tier 1 being the most strategic projects or the projects with the most risk.  Tier 2 is still a highly strategic project, but it is shorter in duration or is not as risky.  Tier 3 can be single unit or department initiatives and tier 4 can be internal initiatives or projects that can be run by team leads.  Based on the governance models of the organization, an estimate of a percentage of a PM's time can be assigned to each tier.  For instance, a tier one may take up 50% of a project managers time where a tier two may take 35%.  Once this has been established, then the capacity can be determined.  As an example:

If Tier 1 = 50%, Tier 2 = 35%, Tier 3 = 15% and I have 5 project managers, then the project capacity could be:

10 Tier 1 projects (500%)


5 Tier 1 (250%)
5 Tier 2 (175%)
5 Tier 3 (75%)


Any makeup that equals 500%.

This allows you to determine the real capacity of project management.