Project management

This category contains 61 posts

Act on priorities, or expect to be late

If you can’t do the most important project work first, expect to overrun. Doing project work generally yields any of three results: either you complete the work in good time, you overrun, or more work comes out of it. They are not all mutually exclusive. The problem with projects is that work tends not to … Continue reading

Measuring the impact of our activity

When we measure our progress there are—by some perspective—three kinds of things we might be measuring. The most immediate things to measure is our activity: Are we doing what we said we would do, and at the rate at which we said we’d do it? This is about measuring ourselves against our plan and is … 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

There’s trouble in MoSCoW

Most project teams I work with prioritise their work in a simple order: most important, second most important, etc. But sometimes people still use the MoSCoW method, and I find this leads to problems. MoSCoW stands for Must, Should, Could, Won’t—it’s a way of categorising deliverables into one of four buckets. The Musts get done … Continue reading

Separate strategic assumptions from goals

Previously I wrote about the importance of having a clear goal, in the form of a value statement. But in practice it’s tempting to confuse a goal with what I call a “strategic assumption”—and we shouldn’t do that. When I ask a project team what their goal is they usually suggest a number of things, … Continue reading

Being accountable for delivering value

There are lots of things that make an effective team, but one of the most important, I’ve found, is to make sure they have a clear and meaningful goal. Part of this is to separate the goal (or the benefit, or the value)¬†from the way they’ll achieve it (the solution), and then make them responsible … Continue reading

Frequent delivery is the test of a plan’s quality

There are many ways to measure a plan’s quality. Some of these are: flexibility, how realistic it is, and the number of internal or external dependencies. But in the end for most people a plan is about delivering some end result within some stated time. A plan shows both approach and time—How and When. It … Continue reading

Traffic lights, roundabouts and decision-making

Last week I saw a presentation from Bjarte Bogsnes of Statoil, at a meeting about Beyond Budgeting, which offers “a management model that is more empowered and adaptive [and] releasing people from the burdens of stifling bureaucracy”. Part of they ethos of Beyond Budgeting is to bring decision-making back to the people who have direct … Continue reading

Complexity helps solve Olympian problems

I sometimes feel a small sense of wonder at how revealing complexity can actually help, rather than hinder, problem-solving. This complexity can be revealed by zooming out from a problem and looking at the bigger picture. I’ve previously written about how this approach can help us deal with risk and uncertainty better. Or it can … Continue reading