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Project management is about managing the unexpected

There’s a snappier title for this blog post, but it’s not mine. It comes from Tim Lister, who says: “Risk management is project management for grown-ups”. This is in his book, co-authored with Tom DeMarco, and also the title of his 2014 QCon London presentation. And maybe that’s all there is to say… but the … Continue reading

Risk isn’t really linear

It’s easy to talk about things which are “higher risk” and “lower risk”… and most of the time it’s appropriate. Last week Tom Loosemore used the idea well, and I’m sure we’ve all used that concept at one time or another. But we should be aware that risk (or “uncertainty”, if we’re to include positive … Continue reading

Informing the bereaved product owner

I once worked with the CEO of a company with too many products, and he took it upon himself to cut down the product portfolio dramatically so that the company could focus on what was most worthwhile. During one such meeting someone must have said how it was going to be very difficult to tell … Continue reading

Why did the risk manager cross the road? (Or: let’s stop seeking risk)

The death this weekend of climber Ueli Steck generated not just tributes from fellow climbers, but also discussion in the media of risk taking, and whether taking risk was part of the enjoyment of climbing. It reminded me of two things: (i) a discussion on Radio 4 with a researcher who has looked specifically at … Continue reading

Balancing strategic guesswork with tactical evidence

I’ve always seen strategic decision-making as consisting of a large element of guesswork. It’s educated guesswork, but it’s very much taking a punt on what we want to achieve based on our assessments of how certain situations will evolve and where we want to be positioned at the end of that. And we can never … Continue reading

The map is not the territory

My daughter and I are currently reading Lemony Snicket’s very entertaining “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”, a book in the series of “All The Wrong Questions”. And there is a constant refrain I think is very useful: The map is not the territory. The book tells the story of Mr Snicket’s apprenticeship as … Continue reading

Teams and crews

One of the most entertaining sessions at last months’s Agile in the City: Birmingham was from Martin Burns, discussing teams in relation to performing music. And of all the points he made, the simplest and most compelling to me was the distinction between teams and crews. The dynamics of a team, he said, changed significantly … Continue reading

Why measure happiness?

Measurement might sound like it’s some kind of objective process, but that’s not always the case. Last week I asked the audience at Agile in the City: Birmingham to “Quantify Your Goals”. As part of that I showed how on one of the programmes at ONS we assessed progress against a goal simply by asking … Continue reading

Impact mapping using rings

I’ve been doing a lot of impact mapping recently, but when my friend Matt Hosking got involved he noticed a problem: it makes very poor use of wall space. And as a result of that he suggested laying it out differently—in rings. I’ve now had a chance to try it, and I can report that … Continue reading

Agile frameworks do have some merit

Last week I came across a post by my friend Kelly Waters, in which he bemoaned the many competing Agile methodologies, and said that he thought “the best advice is to go back to basics and apply those basic principles without layering over them a whole tonne of processes“. I agreed, but didn’t add my … Continue reading