January 12, 2018

Is It Clear?

Last week my daughter Shannon and I went for a walk around the local pond. As we came around the corner, the garbage can caught us by surprise. It said:


“What?!” we said to each other.

We decided to take a closer look. The can actually said:


A little misplacement of the sign, whether on purpose or not, gave a totally different message.

I guess we can forgive a garbage can for its miscommunications. In the garbage goes...

December 14, 2017

New Ways for Canadian Government Projects

If you're interested in agile, change and projects, the CBC has an excellent article on these topics: Canadian Digital Service takes startup approach to building better IT for government.

If you have two minutes to spare, take a look at the video "Shopify's lessons for the public service" in the article. Hint: failure is not a bad word.

November 22, 2017

Statistics on Project Failure

Most Common Causes of Project Failure:

  • Changing priorities within organization – 40%
  • Inaccurate requirements – 38%
  • Change in project objectives – 35%
  • Undefined risks/opportunities – 30%
  • Poor communication – 30%
  • Undefined project goals – 30%
  • Inadequate sponsor support – 29%
  • Inadequate cost estimates – 29%
  • Inaccurate task time estimate – 27%
  • Resource dependency – 25%
  • Poor change management – 25%
  • Inadequate resource forecasting – 23%
  • Inexperienced project manager – 20%
  • Limited resources – 20%
  • Procrastination within team – 13%
  • Task dependency – 11%
  • Other – 9%

source: Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management 2015

November 16, 2017

Controlling Project Stakeholders

Can we? Probably not.

As PMI says in its latest edition of the PMBOK:

"Because project managers rarely, if ever, have the ability to control stakeholders, Control Stakeholder Engagement was renamed to Monitor Stakeholder Engagement." (page 650, PMBOK)

November 09, 2017

What We Focus On

The other day I found myself focusing on some negative events in the news. Looking for inspiration, I stared at my library of books. One book jumped out to me (felt like it literally did!)

"QBQ!", by John G. Miller, is a great book of not-so-common sense. (The full title is Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and Life - QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®, What to Really Ask Yourself to Eliminate Blame, Complaining, and Procrastination.)

Mr. Miller talks about making better choices through changing the questions we ask ourselves and others. His three simple guidelines for creating a QBQ are:

1. Begin with "What" or "How" (not "Why," "When," or "Who").
2. Contain an "I" (not "they," "them," "we," or "you").
3. Focus on action.

As he says, "What can I do?" fits the guidelines perfectly.

So, instead of thinking, "Why are they acting like that?" I started re-focusing on where I was and what I could do.

Hey, sounds like some good things are happening in the world now. Funny how that happens!

October 13, 2017

Will Working on Projects Help You Be Less Stressed?

I was talking with a business manager the other day about organizing a presentation for her group. She said, "It's always so hectic around here, people aren't so organized. Let's see if they have time to attend the session."

I replied, "Well, there you go. Project management can help with that!"

How can working with a project mindset help with organization?

First, there's the defining of the project itself and its scope. What are we doing and not doing? Clarifying that will help keep focus and eliminate unnecessary efforts.

Then there's the schedule. What has to be done next? Can someone else do part of the work concurrently to save time? Knowing what is to be done when can help reduce the running-around-with-the-head-cut-off routine.

And there's risk analysis. What should we take care of now and what money can we put aside for in case uncertain events occur? Then we can rest assured we have taken care of the what-if's and what-may-happen and get on with the job.

These are just a few examples of how organizing work into projects can reduce stress. But let's not forget communications – lack of proper communications can cause many headaches in a project. That's why identifying who is interested in the project, who can affect it positively and negatively, and how the stakeholders want to be communicated with, is so important.

If we can define these things at the beginning of the project and keep an eye on them as we go along, we will have a stronger project.

September 21, 2017

Where's the Wizard?

The movie, The Wizard of Oz, tells the story of a girl and her dog who were picked up by a cyclone and transplanted to the Land of Oz. There she met a scarecrow who wanted a brain, a tin man who wanted a heart, and a lion who wanted courage. The girl, Dorothy, wanted to get home.

Then they hear there's a wizard who can give them these things.

When they get to the wizard, they discover he is a small man behind a curtain. But, along the way, they have found what they were looking for: they had it inside themselves all along.

Training is like that. You know you want to know something and you seek out how to learn it. But, you wouldn't have even known to look if you hadn't had the inkling of the concepts within you.

Training helps you discover what you already know. Things are unveiled to you.

BrenDaniel provides individualized PMP training, as well as classroom training. Ask us for an assessment of your own or your organization's project management capabilities and needs.

September 13, 2017

Want to Write Your PMP Exam Before the Test Changes?

The sixth edition of the PMBOK is now out. This means the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam will change soon. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has said that will happen in the first quarter of 2018.

What does this mean to PMP aspirants? If you have studied using the fifth edition, you will likely want to get your exam written before the test changes.

If you are in this situation, and are looking for a refresher course or individualized training for the PMP, we have what you are looking for: classroom training, online learning, and one-to-one study sessions. Get in touch!

August 29, 2017

Have You Got Plans?

Last week my daughter and I were sitting down to breakfast. I asked Shannon what her plans were for the day and she told me. Then she asked me the same thing.

I said, "I plan to have x results."

Shannon retorted, "That's not a plan!"

"What?" I asked.

She reminded me that a plan has to do with what you are going to do, not the results you want. Touche, Shannon! (I should know better. 😉)

June 28, 2017

The Emperor's New Clothes

My friend Amy was telling me about a project she was on. Being new to the industry, she had asked her project manager (PM) for more information on a term. The PM blustered through an explanation. My friend left the conversation, still not understanding.

The next day, Amy decided she would go back to the PM and ask some more questions. Amy told the PM she just didn’t get what the term meant. With that, her PM admitted she didn’t really know either. They decided to look into it together.

When Amy told me about this situation, I thought of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Sometimes we are afraid to admit we don’t know something because we are supposed to be the expert. (In the story, everyone can see the Emperor has no clothes but the only one who will say this is a young child.) However, admitting to not knowing something is really a sign of strength. After all, who knows everything?

Probably even more importantly, the manager admitting her lack of knowledge built more trust with Amy. Only by admitting we don’t know can we grow, both personally and professionally.