November 2010

Project Management Goodie

When I was on the IBM Corporate Technical Staff, I used to go around to the various locations around the world and “help” them with their projects.  I visited with a myriad of project management people at all levels and on all types and sizes of projects.  One of questions I would ask each person I spoke to was “what do you look at in your everyday management of your project?”  Most people showed me some version of their project plan: tasks, checkpoints, people assignments, and so on.  But one day, I was shown something that I had never seen before, something so useful that I have shared it with every project team I have worked with since.

  What I saw was a graph with time running left to right and top to bottom.  The origin at the top left represents the start date of the project.  The scale of both the horizontal and vertical axes is the same.  The horizontal axis is labeled “plan dates” and the vertical axis is labeled “actual dates.”  The initial plan for the project is represented by checkpoints (or “milestones” if you prefer) on a horizontal line.  The vertical position of the horizontal line is the actual date the plan was created or modified.

Here’s what this looks like: 

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Transforming Your Business Through Living Thanksgiving

For those of us who live in the U.S., this Thursday is the celebration of Thanksgiving: a day of gratitude for all that we have, and all that got us to where we are. Most of us, certainly anyone reading this post, have a whole lot to be thankful for, regardless of the recent state of the economy. Given the constant pull to give our attention to what’s wrong and what we don’t have, I personally am looking forward to this occasion to focus on and appreciate what I do have.

So that’s one step; redirect what you’re focusing on from what’s not there to what actually is there. This is certainly relevant in business. One could say that leadership and management of an organization is largely a function of what isn’t. In leading a team, our intention is to produce some result or outcome that isn’t currently present. In managing a team, we measure “where we are” in a project against where we aren’t (projections, promises, etc.). Business is all about what isn’t. So now is the opportunity to really focus on what is; acknowledging fully the results, opportunities and quality of life we do have. This in its own right can be quite a transformative experience.

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