Technical Project Manager: A Curious Expression

April 10, 2010

An increasing number of job opportunities arriving in my inbox have the title, “Technical Project Manager”.  This is indeed a curious expression and gives me pause to question: Who created it? What’s gained by adding the term “technical”? What does it mean to me, a project manager?  Read the rest of this entry »

The Many Uses of a Barometer

January 9, 2010

As I have alluded to in some of my past posts, the way we think about and approach a problem is critical in achieving an effective solution. Many of us with technical backgrounds have a propensity to rush to closure on a solution that seems obvious to us, mostly because we have been educated to view the world in terms of mathematics and achieving the prescribed “correct” solution.  Along that line, I like to share a story: Read the rest of this entry »

The Bump in the Road (5 of 5)

December 12, 2009

Where to Go From Here?

I realize that most of us will never face the challenges confronted by Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director, on Apollo 13, but the mental exercise is worth doing.  If you haven’t seen the movie, or have seen it and view it as entrainment at the time, I suggest renting it and putting yourself in Gene’s shoes while watching.  You can put yourself through an endless stream of questions:

  • Would I have Gene’s mental toughness?
  • Would I be prepared to ratchet-up my leadership skills and rally the troops?
  • Do I have the knowledge in problem solving and decision making necessary?
  • How can I improve my day-to-day leadership, now I’ve seen one of the best project leaders in action?
  • Etc., etc. ….

Remember it is a journey of a thousand steps and it starts with just one.

The Bump in the Road (4 of 5)

December 5, 2009

Rallying the Team from a Bump in the Night

For the rare situation where the project plan comes to an abrupt, premature end or dead stop, it is your time to show everyone what real leadership is.  At this point the whole team, and more, are looking for someone to rally them and provide direction on how to proceed.  Let’s not confuse direction with providing detail instructions on what to do (micro-management).  What’s needed is leadership and a process for the path forward – everybody following and moving in the same direction. But wait, there’s more

The Bump in the Night (3 of 5)

November 21, 2009

Process for Handling the Dips in the Road

The majority of unexpected situations that hit a project during its execution are dips in the road to closure; a leader can certainly prepare both themselves and a process for the team, to deal with these.

As the project leader you own the solution/decision process, But wait, there’s more

The Bump in the Night (2 of 5)

November 14, 2009

Who is Solving the Problems and Making the Decisions?

The question on the table is, will we have the right person(s) solving the problem and/or making the decision, when needed?

The volume of problems/decisions seen by a project is probably somewhat pyramid in shape, with the bulk lying with individual SMEs and, hopefully, precious few with the organization’s senior management team.  From another perspective, an inverse relationship exists between the problem volume and the number of people and/or organizational levels involved. But wait, there’s more

The Bump in the Night (1 of 5)

November 7, 2009

Are you prepared to cope when things go bump in the night?

As project managers we have become proficient in transforming the project charter (in whatever form we get it) into a project plan (hopefully, including some risk management) and then charging through plan execution to closure.  But, what happens when thing go bump in the night during execution?  Have you prepared for a discontinuity? I’m talking about the metaphorical equivalent of the plan dropping off the edge of the earthquake damaged bridge. But wait, there’s more