Friday, December 12, 2008

> New Podcast Videos have been posted to the IT&T SIG iTunes Podcast and Vimeo

It has been awhile since I've posted anything, but things are almost settled down and I am hoping to get better about that in the coming weeks.  

While I was in Warsaw I had a chance to shoot interviews with the PMI Poland Chapter President, Rafal Mielczarek and Andy Brandt from Codesprinters. (I am a huge fan of Banana Scrum.)

Since my last post from the PMI Poland Chapter's 3rd Annual Congress in Warsaw I have been traveling a bit. I was fortunate enough to be able to present at ├średev 2008 in Malmo, Sweden. It was one of the best conventions I have ever been to. The cross section of developer, project managers and tech geeks from all over the IT space made it an event that I'll probably be measuring every convention I go to from now on. The variety of ideas shared was what made it such a rich learning experience. Everywhere I went there seemed to be some kind of debate going on and everyone there was completely passionate about their craft.  Getting to meet Diana Larsen and Jeff Sutherland was very cool. I also had a chance to shoot a video interview with Gabrielle Benefield, which you can see if you follow the Vimeo link above or check out the IT&T SIG Video Podcast in iTunes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It it's Monday, this must be Warsaw

Greetings from Poland! I still have a lot of updates to post from Denver, and a slew of great video, but between trying to catch up from being away, watching the Phillies restore my long lost belief in Philly sports teams and getting ready for Warsaw... I'm still working on catching up.

Right now I am in Warsaw at the 3rd International PMI Poland Congress. Things got off to a great start this morning and I am truly honored to be here. Rafal Mielczarek kicked things off this morning with an introduction that set the tone for what promises to be two days of great networking and learning. Just a few highlights... The Poland Chapter is something of a star in the PMI world, due to its very successful implementation of the Chapter with Branches model. They've done so well that the PMI Poland chapter has grown to 500 members since it received it's charter from PMI just five years ago, and this includes 25% growth just since the summer. Rafal joked, as the Dow goes down, their membership goes up.

In the first session, Alexandre Rodrigues, gave a presentation called Dynamic Risk Management. It covered all the basics of Risk Management and then launched into some very detailed explanations of the different tools, how they work, etc. In his talk, he urged the group to approach at Risk Management from a mindset that would allow them to see the opportunities as well as the negatives. He went on to recommend doing all they could to become aware of the opportunities and learning how to take advantage of them. My favorite line was when he said, "The project is not for the project, but for the business results." I think we (PMs) often lose sight of that when we are in the thick of things. He also explained to the participants why you can't manage risk my responding to deviation, but rather, you need to take action before the deviation occurs. 

I'll try to post something again this evening. I'm also going to be posting to the IT&T SIG Twitter Feed (

Right now I have to get back in there because I'm missing Alfonse Bucero's presentation on How to Upgrade a Weak Project Culture.

Before I go, I do want to say a special thanks to Kamila Siebierwska for all her help while I was preparing to come to Warsaw for the Congress. She’s been a great help!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

PMI North American Leadership Institute Meeting 2008 
I’m listening to Mark Mulally’s Keynote presentation for PMI’s 2008 North American Global Congress. The work that he, and others, have been doing for the past year is a critical part of making the case for why project management is needed and what value it can provide.

This Leadership meeting is probably going to be one of the most important sessions that has been held for the SIGs and Colleges. The state of the Virtual Communities Project, and what impact it will have on SIG/College communities is probably going to be the main discussion topic in the sessions and the halls here at the Denver Convention Center. As for what this will mean to IT&T SIG members, I’m going to try and hold off on commenting until the sessions are complete… the key word being try.

We’ve got a lot of great things happening on the SIG website that all focus on keeping our members up to date on what is happening in Denver. We will be posting video podcasts every day, blog updates, twitter feeds and flickr feeds the whole time we are here.

On Monday evening we will hold our Annual Member Networking event. It is something I always look forward to because it gives us the best opportunity we have all year long to sit down with our members and the friends of the IT&T SIG and find our how we are doing. Each year, the feedback has helped us drive forward with new projects and programs that, hopefully, add to the member value we are providing.

And without a doubt, the part about this week that I am most excited about is our event on Saturday night where we will co-host a reception with the Scrum Alliance to promote the work we are doing with them. We’ve been getting a great response to our Scrum webinars and we have even greater things in store for next year.

This is going to be a very exciting week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It has been awhile since I posted anything, but a lot has been going on. I’ve been working on preparing for PMI’s Congress and the other events happening this fall, as well as the project that the IT&T SIG is doing with the Scrum Alliance.

Scrum Alliance Webinars

So far we’ve held four webinars with the Scrum Alliance and they’ve gone quite well. We’ve had good attendance and great questions. There will be another one this coming Tuesday at 8 PM Easten and the beginning on October 7 we will switch to a 12 Pm Eastern start so that we can make the calls easier for our friends in the EMEA region.

I’ll be posting a listing of events that the SIG is putting on in Denver and beyond sometime over the weekend. In the meantime, if you are planning on attending the PMI Congress, will be there on Saturday night (10/18) and find yourself often waking in the week hours, in a cold sweat because you can’t stop thinking about how to make Scrum and traditional project management work better together, please send me an email and let me know ( we’ve got something in the works you might like to get involved with.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Name is Dave and I Suffer from an Organizational Dependency

I have organizational issues. I give GTD a bad name. I have tried many different systems; paper based, electronic, writing on my hand in Sharpie (not so helpful if you also suffer from a Purell habit). There was a brief period a few years ago when I owned a Palm T3… now I love my iPhone and it helps, but the Palm T3 was, for my money, the greatest PDA ever made and I will never forgive the Geek Squad at Best Buy for rendering it beyond use while trying to fix it.

Then, a few months ago… Jott. And throughout the valley, there was much rejoicing. I could Jott myself all day long…in public, while driving, whenever. It was awesome. I finally felt like I had things on the road to being sorted again.

Then, this week, those Capt. Hammers at Jott had the unmitigated nerve to move out of beta. And now, they have the audacity to want me to pay them… with actual money… for what basically has become “organizational crack”. (Do those quotes make it look like there is such a thing?). I am in dire need of either rehab or something better… or someone who can convince Palm to put the T3 back into production.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Cop/Doom Cop

I am working on a project right now with a practice lead that grew up in Melbourne. What this means is that in the part of the US that I live in, as long as he is smiling and ends every few sentences with the phrase "no worries mate", regardless of what he says, folks are just plain happy to talk to him. He is a very positive guy. He lives in a world where he doesn't have "challenges", he has "opportunities". He is the power of positive thinking. It is an amazing thing to witness... and sometimes, being afflicted with the terminal ailment of project management, it leaves me feeling like I'm from an alien race.

We got into a bit of a debate today regarding the whole good cop/doom cop thing. Typically, when we are discussing things related to the project, a shard of jagged glass nowhere remotely near the table is, to him, a glass half full of the most profound vino known to man. He looks at things through a lens of what will be, when things line up perfectly... which, they naturally will... no worries mate. I think, for what he does, this is completely necessary and a very good thing in that someone with that positive, can-do mindset is absolutely needed.

Me? Well... lets just say, you can have a glass filled to the brim, resting safely in the center of a table designed to keep it from spilling a drop and all I see in a very fragile risk factor that will most certainly crash to the floor, spill everywhere and result in deadly sharp fragments of glass hiding all about on the floor just waiting to start cutting into everyone who comes near. But the way I look at it, that's kind of the gig. One of our jobs, as PMs, is to see the risks before the others do and be ready for whatever can, and will, go wrong. In a perfect world, we are all Radar O'Reilly, hearing the choppers minutes before anyone else does.

The conversation left me wondering, is it better for a PM to be optimistic and able to approach the project through the smiley, shiny happy people lens, or are we doing a better job of serving our projects and clients looking at the world like a bunch of Schleprock's and preparing for the inevitable... and, are there actually people out there who have been able to find themselves some kind of balance or middle ground?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Post Modern PM

During MITPM in Kuala Lumpur I got to listen to Dr. David Frame give a talk in which he explored a number of PM methodologies and how none of them served every purpose. The general gist of it was that there are lots of methodologies/tools available and that you need more than just one.

This is something that I consider to be a big deal in the evolution of a project manager. Getting past the point where you consider one approach to be the “one true way”, and on to a place where you see each approach as viable and important is a huge leap. It is also where the creative part comes in and when being a PM gets to be an actually fun job.

In his talk, Dr. Frame used the phrase “post project management”. It seemed to fit, but at the same time, to beg for just a bit more. It started rolling around in my head as post-modern project management. If the post modern movement was a reaction against what had become standardized forms and something which achieved success by the ironic blending of the dissimilar, then wouldn’t the blending of things like Scrum and PMBOK fit that same bill? (Yes, I took just enough postmodern film classes in college to make me dangerous.) If so, then I’d argue that for a PM to success in today’s’ job market, a PM has to evolve to this post modern state in which all tools hold equal weight and are only as good (or bad) as the way in which they are implemented.

Monday, May 19, 2008

PMI 2008 Leadership Meeting - Malta
[pictures from Kuala Lumpur and Malta]

Right now I am in Malta for the PMI’s 2008 Leadership Meeting and Global Congress. IT&T SIG Past Chair, Mark Lurch, and I arrived here late Saturday afternoon straight from Kuala Lumpur by way of Dubai.

While Mark and I were not here in time to attend the VCP update given by PMI on Friday, the word on the street is that PMI is moving forward, full steam ahead with the project. This has the potential to have a heavy impact on the IT&T SIG in the coming 24 months and I’ll be posting more about that in the next few days. Right now, I just want to post some of the highlights so far.

Saturday evening the IT&T SIG EMEA Regional Director, Jose Pinto, hosted a networking event for the IT&T SIG Leaders (and potential leaders) throughout the EMEA region. The event was a huge success. We had a full room and a very entertaining and wonderful presentation on the wines of Malta by Don Victorio, the owner of the vineyard that produced all the fabulous wines we sampled. Jose gave a wonderful speech, welcoming all our guests and I had the chance to say a few words as well. It is a rare thing for us to get to meet face to face with the folks from this region that help support all we do. In addition to myself, Mark Lurch and Jose, IT&T SIG Vice Chair, Petra Goltz; VP of Professional Development, Vasilj Petrovic; and VP of Technology, Daniel Hunt were all present.

At the event we had the great pleasure to meet the 1  IT&T SIG member that we have in Malta, Syam Ravi Menon who works for Information Systems, LTD , a Maltese System Analysis and Design company that also provides Training and Software Development Services. Syam is a very charming guy who is doing all he can to help spread the word about PMI here in Malta. I’m hoping to be able to tape him for a video podcast while we are here on the island.

Another highlight was meeting Emad Aziz, PMP, who came from Cairo to attend the events here. Emad works for Brisk Consulting, a consulting company based in Egypt that focuses on delivering operational professionalism in Egypt and the Arabian Gulf. 

While the jet lag was a little too heavy for me, and I turned in early, the crowd apparently stayed until about 2 AM listening to the Don’s stories about life in Malta. All in all, the evening was a great success. Jose did an incredible job putting everything together.

Yesterday I was able to attend a few of the Leadership Meeting sessions, including a workshop given by IT&T SIG Vice-Chair, Petra Goltz on working with different cultures. Those types of talks are always fascinating when they are held in EMEA because there are just so many different groups of people working together. I shot some video during Petra’s presentation and I’ll be posting that in a few days.

The day ended with the PMI Leader to Leader discussion where PMI Vice-Chair Yan Ping Chen led the proceedings and the leaders from various PMI components got to ask the experts about all things PMI. This is always one of the most informative times of the Leadership Meeting. PMI President and CEO Greg Ballestrero; Executive VP and COO, Mark Langley; PMI Chair, Philip Diab; and others fielded a number of questions about the state of PMI, its’ competition and business model for the coming years. Clearly, PMI is on a path to grow both its’ certification offerings as well as a number of other products.

When the meetings were over for the day we took to the seas. A number of boats took the attendees to the island of Gozo, which is just a short ride across the water from Malta. There we were treated to a lovely dinner at a local winery under the stars. The boat ride over offered some great sites of the islands surrounding Malta. It is a very cool thing to ride across the water, watching the sun go down beyond cathedrals that are some of the oldest gems of the history of the Catholic Church.

Today is the start of Global Congress and we’ve got a few folks already lined up to interview for the podcast. I’ll be posting more as things unfold and I’ll get the video up as soon as I can.

MITPM 2008
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
[pictures from Kuala Lumpur and Malta]

One of the coolest parts about my involvement with the IT&T SIG is that I occasionally have the opportunity to get to take trips to some really interesting places. Last Monday I boarded a 28-hour flight that took me all the way from Oklahoma City to Kuala Lumpur so that I could participate in the 2008 MITPM conference. The conference was held in the days leading up to WCIT, which is one of the largest IT conferences in the Asia Pacific region and it draws attendees and speakers from across the globe.

At the MITPM conference close to 300 IT Project Managers gathered together to listen to presentations given by folks from the US, China and Malaysia.

Mark Lurch, the IT&T SIG Past Chair and I both made the trip and presented at the event along with PMI Fellow Dr. Davidson Frame, Professor Hubert Vaughan, Program Consultant for the China Galileo Navigation Satellite Program, Michael Song, who works for Motorola and others.

This was my first trip to Asian and it was an amazing experience. PMI Asia Pacific Regional Director, SK Khor was one of the organizers of the event and in addition to being an incredible asset to the IT&T SIG and our efforts to develop a stronger presence in the AP region, he is an even greater host.

Dr. Frame opened the session with a talk called “Re-thinking the PMBOK, CMM and ISO 9000”. His presentation showcased how different approaches to project management can be used and blended within the context of the PMBOK, CMM and ISO. In his talk he explored the way that waterfall, iterative and agile practices are each specifically suited to successfully manage different types of projects and can also be blended together. He was a very energizing speaker and set the tone for a very informative day that would cover a number of important topics for IT Project Managers.

The country of Malaysia has put a great deal of effort into developing a stronger use of Project Management practices across the region. MITPM plays a significant role in that effort.

On the way over, the airline lost track of my luggage and it arrived a few hours after my talk. Without my luggage, I was somewhat challenged in meeting the "appropriate business dress" necessary for the project. I took the stage to give my presentation comparing Agile and the PMBOK with items borrowed from both Mark and SK. As I mentioned above, SK is an incredible host and I am very thankful for the loan of proper attire... however, SK and are not exactly the same size and I gave my presentation looking a wee bit like a carnival barker. Despite that, the session went well and judging by the number of folks who had questions after the talk, there is definitely some strong interest in KL for more information on how to implement and use Agile as a project management tool.

IT&T SIG Past Chair, Mark Lurch gave a lively presentation on Managing IT Projects Like a Business. Mark’s talks are always informative and the topic was very well received by the crowd.

Michael Song, Director of Engineering for Motorola Technology, Malaysia, who spoke after Mark was probably the most fascinating part of the day. Michael arrived just barely in time to give his presentation on Managing Global Software Projects via Virtual Teams. Michael was in the region of China that was hit by the earthquake last week and had an understandably difficult time making his way in time for his session. Over the lunch session, he was kind enough to share his first hand experience of the quake.

Because of the recent disasters in China and Burma, the organizers of MITPM took up a collection to support the relief efforts. Overall they raised over 12,000 ringgit (approx. $3,700 US) over the course of the afternoon. The IT&T SIG was more than happy to be able to contribute $500 towards the effort.

The day rounded out with a presentation by Professor Vaughan who gave a talk on PMI’s Program Management Standard and its value to an IT Organization. Professor Vaughan is a fascinating guy. His talk was great, but one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was having the opportunity to listen to him and Dr. Frame tell their stories of Project Management during the beginnings of modern software development. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to that topic, and listening to these two masters hold court on “back in the day”, was an experience I’ll not soon forget.

I have a video podcast interview, which I’ll be posting in the next few days from one of the attendees who traveled all the way from Nepal to attend MITPM. The fact that he traveled from such a distance to participate is a great testament to the value offered by the event.

On Friday, Mark Lurch, Professor Vaughan and I had the opportunity to speak at Multimedia University in KL. The school is a leading university for folks pursuing studies in computer science and project management. Graduate students, lecturers and IT Professionals attended the session from the area. They were a very engaged group of people and following the lecture by Professor Vaughan; we held a roundtable discussion in order to dive into some of the Project Management challenges faced by the attendees. We had a great afternoon full of lively discussion and debate and made some new friends along the way.

Late Friday night Mark and I boarded a plane that would take us on another long journey from Kuala Lumpur all the way to Malta for the 2008 PMI EMEA Global Congress. More on that in my next post.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Digging the Big Visible

While I was at the Scrum Gathering a few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by the guys from Big Visible. George Schlitz and Giore Morein gave a presentation about their approach to analyzing and mapping the ScrumMaster’s relationship to project team members and stakeholders. The relationship maps they demonstrated were both impressive and controversial. Based on the real life experience of Scrum Masters who have worked on projects where they were successful for the client, but ultimately, were let go because of an erosion in the stakeholders’ appreciation for and understanding of their role. Their process for analyzing the connections and value systems of the various parties on a project might seem a little bit over the top to some, but for those of us who actually spend time sitting and trying to work out diagrams that demonstrate the influence each part of the team has on the other parts, it was both re-affirming and amazing.

Giore and George were kind enough to spend some time with me and I’ve posted the video here.

If you’d like to learn more about Big Visible, please go here:

Either way, these guys are definitely worth watching… very impressive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Transcript of Mike Cohn Interview

The Scrum Alliance has posted a transcript of my interview with Mike Cohn from the Scrum Gathering in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Having An Impact

A few months ago the IT&T SIG started working on a project with an Oklahoma based non-profit called Heartline. Heartline provides a number of care services in Oklahoma, including a 211 line, a 24/7 Careline, a Gatekeeper program for vulnerable older residents and a suicide prevention hotline. The IT&T SIG, along with the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chapters of PMI put together a pool of volunteers who conducted an assessment of Heartline's call center and provided recommendations for enhancing what they have in place.

This evening we presented the final results to Heartline and the work was very well received. Randy Tangco, who is the IT&T SIG Newsletter Editor, has done a great job leading this project, and each of the team members (Spryo Lecouras, David Jackson, Umesh Satija and James O’Callaghan) have given beyond the call of duty in both time and professional expertise. This project is a huge deal for the IT&T SIG. The work that the team has done is already showing a positive impact in Heartline's ability to run its' suicide hotline and other telecom based care offerings which serve 1.3 million people in Oklahoma.

I'm so proud of the work this team has done...even more so because this isn't just a technology project. This is a technology project that is making it easier for Heartline to save lives.

This is also our first pro-bono project and we've done it in conjunction with the Tulsa and OKC chapters. I do believe that it is specifically because of our independent status that we are able to put projects like this together and have such a massive impact. If I have any concerns about VCP, it is that it may negatively impact our ability to work on projects like Heartline.

I'm not sure if any other components within PMI can say that a handful of volunteers have had as wide reaching an impact. It is definitely something we can all be proud of.

Randy, Spyro, David, Umesh and James, you guys have done amazing work! On behalf of the 1.3 million Heartline customers that you have helped... THANKS!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Mike Cohn Sessions

Well, it has taken me about a week longer than I had hoped, but here is the podcast featuring the interview I shot with Mike Cohn a few weeks ago at the 2008 Scrum Gathering in Chicago.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mike, he is one of the Founders of the Scrum Alliance. He current sits on the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors, he the author of a number of very popular Agile and software development books, he is a Certified Scrum Trainer and he is the man behind Mountain Goat Software.

Please check back later this week to see my interview with the guys from Big Visible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Scrum Gathering Continued

For me, one of the signs of a really good convention is when I end up spending more time in the halls talking to people than I do in the actual sessions The Scrum Gathering in Chicago was no exception. Throughout the second and third days I found myself continually challenged by how the things I encountered forced me to discard my preconceptions about what Agile and Scrum were all about.

On the morning of the second day I sat in for a talk given by Dan Rawsthorne called “Complex Backlogs”. One of the oddest, and most exciting moments for me (being a complete PM Geek) was sitting in the back of the hall and listening to Dan explain how he is able to calculate Earned Value (he called it Earned Business Value) on his Scrum projects. That was the point where I had to basically take every argument I had gathered into my little “agile cons” wagon and toss it all over the cliff.

I spent the rest of the second morning talking to the folks I met in the halls. Doug Shimp and Sam Hazziez from 3Back and Jim Cundiff from the Scrum Alliance were all very receptive to the idea of developing a stronger connection between the SIG/PMI and the Scrum Alliance.

After lunch Michael Herman moderated an Open Space session that lasted through lunch on Wednesday. I had no experience with an Open Space session but I really enjoyed it. The basic premise seems to be that the agenda is set by the people there who want to raise topics. Topics are scheduled in small groups and the people who are interested attend the topics they find appealing. If you aren’t participating or learning, you are supposed to move on. Whatever happens in the group is what is supposed to happen. The results are compiled and posted to a wiki, which is made available to the attendees. It was the most organic working session I have ever been a part of and the best part was that if something seemed to not really strike my interest, no one was offended if I just got up and moved on. I was able to take part in a number of topics and contribute in each of them. 

During the first session I participated in, I had a kind of panic at the fact that the topic/conversation seemed to have no specific set agenda or direction… even though that was kind of the point. I also found that when I would offer a comment, rather than being able to just offer up my tiny “pearl “of insight and then get back to my email, these folks actually wanted to engage in conversation with me about topics. 

After lunch on the third day the Ken Schwaber held a session for the attendees. Ken is the founder of Scrum and his talk generated a very lively discussion within the group. Being more accoustomed to the PMI Congress and Leadership events, it was very exciting to see such an open and engaging exchange. I definitely came away feeling that, at least at the Scrum Gathering, there is not so much focus on status - it is just a bunch of Scrum Geeks getting together to talk shop.

I came away from the Scrum Gathering very excited about the ideas and the possibility of developing a bridge between the IT&T SIG and the Scrum Alliance. It is something I’ll be working on in the coming months, and I am hopeful it will reduce the polarization between the two groups.

Video with Mike Cohn and the guys from Big Visible will be posted early in the week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Git Yer Scrum On!

Greetings from Chitown and the 2008 Chicago Scrum Gathering!

My self-imposed mission here is to try and find a way to build a better bridge for IT PMs who’ve been raised on PMBOK and are now staring down the barrels of Agile. There are significant differences between the PMBOK and any Agile process. I do believe though, that they can work in a very complimentary fashion. Given that there is an inherent level of friction between the hardcore PMBOKers and the Agilists, my hope is that the IT&T SIG can play a significant role in reducing that friction.

The Gathering is being held at the storied Allerton Hotel. The hotel has a lot of charm and is very intimate… which is good, because it makes up for the elevators.

I got started on Monday by attending Chris Sims’ presentation on Agile 101. In the presentation he gave a “gentle” overview of the key concepts and rules of Agile. For the newcomers, it was a great way to get started.

Next, it was time to listen to The Man… Mike Cohn. If you know anyone who is into Scrum, they’ve got Mike Cohn’s books on their shelves. If you tell them you are going to a place where Mike will be, you are likely to find yourself carrying an armload of their copies of said books, which you will be required to ask him to sign. Mike gave a talk on creating Writing User Stories for Your Product Backlog. As always, he was engaging, informative and covered with a new round of scrum tattoos.

Mike was kind enough to allow me to interview him after lunch. My intention was to post a video podcast Monday evening but I am an imperfect machine and I left the cable that goes from DV cam to Macbook back in New Vegas (Oklahoma). I will pick up a replacement Tuesday morning and my interview with Mike will be posted Tuesday evening.

The session directly following lunch was the high point of the day for me. I am a big fan of looking at the world through a lens that is heavily tainted by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. In fact, my entire approach to Project Management is based in the lessons of that book and the seemingly endless stream of bags of oranges I took in the gut during the .com boom. I like to think that as far as being a “highly aware” PM, I’m pretty solid. But I’ve got nothing on George Schlitz and Giora Morein. Their presentation: "ScrumMaster - Org Change Agent - Mapping the Change Battlefield" was a challenging exploration of how to read those around you with respect to their predisposition towards Agile and how to use that analysis to prevent yourself from ending up as a “dead ScrumMaster”. I am going to try to shoot a video interview with Giora and George on Tuesday. It was a great session.

For the last session of the day, I intended to sit in on Lyssa Adkins talk, “The Road from Project Manager to Agile Coach”, but it was SRO with the crowd spilling into the halls.

Instead I attended Tom Perry’s, “Drifting Toward Invisibility: The Transition to the Electronic Task Board.” In the talk, Tom explored the merits of using both an electronic and a paper based approach to tracking tasks, etc. on Scrum Projects. He shared his own personal experiences with starting with a paper system; driving a change to electronic and then driving it back again. From the perspective of a Project Manager, it was very interesting to hear the Agilists in the room express what seemed to me to be very PMBOKish opinions on the value that the various artifacts can provide. For me, this session was really encouraging because it made it even more apparent that just as the PMBOKers are realizing that they need to move a bit closer to the Agile side of the fence, the Agilists seem to be realizing that there are bits and pieces of the PMBOK minded side that they can benefit from as well.

In every way Monday was a great success. I’m really looking forward to heading back over for Day 2. I’ll have more updates and some video to post this evening.

And, if you are in town, and looking for some non-Scrum action, the Edward Hopper/Winslow Homer exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago were awesome.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Scrum Gathering - Day 1
I'll be heading over to the Scrum Gathering in a little bit and I've got some decent interviews lined up for later today.

I'll try to blog as the day progresses and will post video this evening.

Friday, April 11, 2008

INBOX 1,314

When I first started working as a PM, back in the golden days of .com boomage, I was able to keep track of my work by making a list on a piece of 8.5 x11 paper that I folded into quarters. I spent 15 minutes updating it each day and congratulated myself for completing all my tasks.

Since then the word has gone through some pretty heavy change… the Cookie Monster is on a health diet, Starbuck is a girl, the Red Socks have won a world series...twice!, …whatever. Project Managers are all about the change right? Change is good because it indicates evolution. My old system of keeping things on that tiny square of paper because no longer viable because I had achieved a level of professional achievement/idiocy, where I was allowed to try and manage 13 fully active projects at one time. Thank God for my Handspring Visor!

Anyway, time marches on… we get busier. I am now able to record 4 different programs simultaneously on my DVR… I can record more soccer and baseball than I could ever watch. This is a good thing – right?

At this very moment, I have a list of tasks that must be done today and it is 3 pages long. I have 1,314 emails in my inbox for work and 143 emails in my DO THIS RIGHT AWAY folder in my email for work. I also have 1,254 emails in my PMI Inbox and I just don't even bother checking my personal email anymore because it is too depressing. This is especially disturbing since this is where my JOTTs go.

Oh, and did I mention that all of the above is actually really good. Things used to be much worse. Then I watched the Merlin Mann video on Inbox Zero. This is about as close to Zero as I seem to be able to get.

A few years ago when my beloved Palm T3 died an unnatural death at the hands of the technology assassins/Geek Squad at Best Buy I gave up my beloved Palm/Agendus combination and started looking for a new way to manage my tasks. The journey led me to iGTD, which led me to David Allen. I bought his book, Getting Things Done, over a year ago. I read it every chance I get. I'm now up to Chapter 2.

There are also the podcasts, which are in various stages of completion that I keep trying to finish and post.

Clearly, I'm not so much with the efficient right now… or maybe I am just too over committed to be able to be efficient.. Either way, this seems very much at odds with my (chosen doesn't seem the right word) profession. I'm am a Project Manager. I am supposed to be the bringer of order to the world of chaos. If you took one look inside any of the six folders on my desktop that are all labeled DESKTOP STUFF, you'd become painfully aware how much I am not that when it comes to managing myself.

So, today… a question…

If any of the above resonates, especially if you are one of those people who openly mock your co-workers when they start in with 'OH NO! I have 500 emails in my inbox", how are you dealing with it? (And no, hiding in a closet crying in to a cheap box of wine at the end of the day is not "dealing")

According to the futurists and science fiction writers, we are headed towards a world where machines will develop the ability to be sentient and then take over the world because of our dependence on technology. I'm starting to wonder if the true evil of technology is that it allows is to move so quickly, that we lose the ability to keep up with ourselves.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Video Interview with Iain Fraser (From the PMI Asia Pacific Global Congress in Sydney, Australia)

I still have a few more to edit. They will be posted in the coming weeks.. or at least until I get to the Scrum Gathering and can start talking to the folks there. If you will be in attendance, let me know.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meet “So”, the new “Um”…

A few months ago I started noticing that on a number of the podcasts I listen to the word “So” began to get a lot more play. Specifically, people were using it as a lead into what they were going to say. It was different, not necessarily grammatically correct, but convenient and somewhat intriguing.

For example:

“I was making breakfast this morning, and …”


“So (long pause), this morning I was making breakfast and…”

Over the past month, it seems to have jumped to office speak as well. It has become impossible for me to get through a phone call or meeting without people using it right and left. Oddly, the world “like” has dropped out of site. I should say that I’m as guilty of this as anyone else and the more aware of it I become, the troublesome it is to me.
Of interesting note is that in yoga, “Soham” is a mantra, which means, “I am That”. When using the mantra, "So" is pronounced during inhalation and Ham during exhalation.

So, what’s the deal with "So"? Why has it invaded the business speak like a verbal bird flu? It does not seem to have yet achieved “ducks in a row” status as being a horribly overused phrase, but I do not think this is from lack of trying.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Consultant Walks into a Matrix Organization…

I’ve spent the last week trying to both catch up from being away in Sydney and also in reaching out to all the great people I got to meet over there. There will be more video in a few days and I’m hoping to post the next installment of the Art of War for Project Managers before the end of the weekend.

All I have today are ISTABOTs (Is There AnyBody Out There) Questions…

The Consultant Walks into a Matrix Organization…

I’ve been talking to a number of PMs in the past few weeks who are all dealing with the same problem…

Consultant walks into a matrix org reporting to Sr. Mgmt. Sr. Mgr. calls in his direct reports and says. “Meet the new PM on Vaguely Defined Project Y, which I will demonstrate steadfast halfhearted commitment to for the foreseeable future. While the PM is here working, I’ll trust that each of you will do you “best” to provide what you are asked for. In order to ensure the success of this project, I will not be removing any of your current responsibilities or providing you with any additional support. Naturally, there will be no penalty for non-compliance and your bonus structure will not be impacted by anything other than your successful work on everything but this project.”

This is the most you can get from Sr. Mgr and of course, the direct reports treat you like you are serving up warm helpings of skunked beer.

How do you fix this if the the level of support put forth by the Sr. Mgr. is the best you are going to get?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pictures from the PMI 2008 Asia Pacific Leadership Meeting and Global Congress are posted here
PMI Asia Pacific Global Congress – Days 2 and 3

I’m back home in fabulous New Vegas (Oklahoma City). I keep denying any form of jet lag, but I also seem to be suffering from bouts of uncontrollable narcolepsy, where I drop off in mid sentence and pass out for a few minutes. Luckily, this hasn’t happened while driving … yet.

Being able to attend the Leadership and GC events is always a incredible learning experience and I am definitely of the camp that believes you learn as much, or more, in the halls talking to people, than you do in the sessions.

I did spend most of the 2nd and 3rd days in the booth, but I was able to break away to see our Asia Pacific Regional Director, SK Khor’s talk on Risk Management. The IT&T SIG is very fortunate to be graced with SK. He is a human networking machine and watching him work is both awesome and dizzying. Even better, however, is listening to him speak. SK’s presentation was not only informative; it was really funny as well – especially the firewall bit.

Mark, SK and I all got to meet a lot of great folks at our booth. For those of you who volunteered to help the SIG, rest assured, we’ll be calling. We are also going to try and work out a way to establish something local – either through webinars scheduled for an AP timezone, or some type of local user group.

This was my first time attending a PMI event in Asia Pacific. There is definitely something to be said for the non-US PMI events. They are more intimate and in a lot of ways, that makes it easier to develop relationships with the folks who attend.

My final thoughts, shout-outs and favorite moments:

  • Having the opportunity to sit with some folks and listen to stories about project managing software projects back in the day of punch-cards was one of my all time high moments. I will be steadily working on my bridge game and am looking forward to more stories for the podcast in Malta.

  • The Palm T3 (god rest its’ electronic soul) was the greatest PDA ever made.

  • David Goh and Tarnbir Kaur’s talk on cultural diversity was worth the entire trip for me. I am hoping to be able to interview Tarnbir very soon for some information specifically targeted at addressing very specific cultural project issues that often impact PMs and development teams in North America.

  • Iain, thank you for being such a good sport about the podcast. It will be posted very soon.

  • Michael Young, thanks for joining us late night for drinks and for offering to help out – we will be in touch very soon.

  • Rob Posener – It was great to be able to talk to you after so long.

  • Mrs. T – Thank you, as always, for the great advice. It is appreciated beyond words.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


In my posting on Monday I mentioned the talk on How to Become an Independent Consultant. While I did hear great things about it from the other members of the IT&T SIG who were present, I was on Booth Duty during the talk and was not able to attend. So, I have to offer my apologies to Jerry Ball, and Frank Walker and Frank Parth who were also on the panel, but whom I failed to mention in my posting.

Sorry about that gentlemen... it looks like I'll be buying a round in Malta.

Video Podcast Interview with Robyn Meredith from PMI Asia Pacific Global Congress in Sydney

Monday, March 03, 2008

Day 1 of PMI’s 2008 Asia Pacific Global Congress

Things got off to a great start Monday with a group of traditional Aborigine dancers entering the hall to the sounds of a didgeridoo, performing a dance to cleanse the energy in the hall for all the congress attendees. PMI President Greg Ballesteros gave an update on the phenomenal growth we are seeing in Project Management as it continues to enable companies all over the world improve their performance through the practice of our craft. PMI Chair Philip Diaz then welcomed the crowd and introduced Keynote Speaker Robyn Meredith. Ms. Meredith is an accomplished economic journalist who has written for a number of world-renowned publications including the New York Times and Forbes. She recently published a book that explores the rise to economic superpower status of China and India. As these two countries emerge, their evolution is having an unprecedented impact on the global economy. In her talk she compared and contrasted the two emerging giants and provided examples of how their drive to change their destiny is having a ripple effect that is undeniably impacting the entire world.

If you would like to learn more about Roby Meredith, or her book The Elephant and the Dragon, you can visit her website at or pick it up via

After the keynote the sessions got underway. IT & T SIG Member and Troubled Project SIG Board Member, Alex Brown and Jennifer Tharp gave a talk on How to Become an Independent Consultant. Alex is a long-standing member of the IT & T SIG and his talks are always insightful and fun to watch.

With the first sessions complete the exhibition floor opened. Past Chair, Mark Lurch, Asia Pacific Regional Director, SK Khor and I all manned the booth and greeted the Congress Attendees. There was a great turnout and if you are attending Congress and haven’t stopped by booth 19 yet, please do so. Will be filming for our video podcast today and tomorrow and we’d love to talk to you.

Before the day ended we were very fortunate to get to spend some time with the Keynote Speaker, Robyn Meredith. She sat down with us for a video podcast, which should be posted within the next day or so, so please keep checking back for more details.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

PMI Asia Pac Leadership – Sydney, Australia (Day 2)

Day 2 started out with sessions for leaders of the components including a 3-part presentation on the framework being introduced for the Chapters. While the current version does not apply to SIGs and Colleges, it provided a good primer for some of the types of tools and metrics we will be expected to use to measure our maturity, organizational strengths and ability to add value.

One of the best sessions of the morning was a presentation by PMI Asia Pacific Service Center Manager, David Goh and Tarnbir Kaur on Cultural Diversity. The talk was based on research done by the two presenters and it offered details on the different dimensions used to assess cultural differences and the way they communicate. While the talk centered around Asian and Indian cultures, it offered those from outside those regions a wonderful opportunity to present specific issues/concerns in working with different cultures in order to get valuable feedback on how to be more effective in working with them. Being able to share issues with colleagues from across the globe and see how they approach different leadership situations is what the Leadership sessions are all about.

The PMI Board members were present at lunch on the second day and everyone attending had an opportunity to visit with them about everything from changes in our profession to the state of PMI. One interesting point of note was the topic of Skype, and how many of us are now using it as the preferred method of keeping in touch with the folks back home.

After lunch sessions included a working session on the PMI Code of Ethics and the types of issues we, as component leaders, face in dealing with our members and volunteers.

The day rounded out with an update on the Community Transformation Project and finally the Leader 2 Leader session in which attendees have the opportunity to address the Board of PMI directly with questions about things specific to running chapters, SIGs and Colleges.

Leadership ended with a reception in the Sydney Tower Sky Lounge, the second tallest building in the southern hemisphere. The Sydney Tower is the same height as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and it offered a great way to get a panoramic view of Sydney and the surrounding countryside.

Monday will bring the start of Global Congress and a keynote presentation by Robyn Meredith on her book The Elephant and the Dragon. If you are attending Global Congress, stop by the IT & Telecommunications SIG Booth (#19) and say Hi. If you are up for it, we’ll videotape you for our video podcast, which will be posted at the end of the day.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

PMI Asia Pac Leadership - Sydney, Australia 2008

We’re one day into PMI’s 2008 Asia Pacific Leadership Meeting and things are off to a great start. The meeting kicked off with an amazingly heartfelt talk given by Peter Bains talk called Leadership Matters. Bains works for the Sydney Police as a forensic specialist dealing in large-scale disasters and terrorist attacks. The talk centered on Bain’s involvement in the response to the Boxing Day Tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004. The talk was very moving and most of the audience was on the brink of tears as Bains described the challenges he and his team faced in doing DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) in the weeks after the attack. From a leadership standpoint, there were two things Bains brought up that were particularly poignant. The first was that he divided anyone’s involvement in a project into four stages. The first is the frenetic, adrenaline stage when people are highly motivated, just trying to figure out what is going on. They don’t need much to keep them going then because they have a lot of enthusiasm. The second stage has them move into a business as usual mindset. They’ve learned how things work, they aren’t the new guy anymore and they know their job. The third stage is where Bain’s focused. In the third stage, the energy level drops. The motivation is gone, routine has set in and there is a breakdown of enthusiasm. This, Bain’s argued, is where leadership is most critical. You need to keep people energized, focused and make sure, above all, that they have a clarity of purpose that is completely ingrained in their minds and hearts. This needs to continue through the fourth stage, exit, when everyone is just looking for a way out. Bains contended that real leadership is able to keep a team motivated beyond the sexy part, all the way through the day-to-day drudgery until you cross the finish line. He challenged all of us to make sure we had clarity of purpose that truly identified why we do what we do.

As they day moved on, the topics covered included an update on the state of al things IT at PMI, the status of things in the AP region itself and finally breakout sessions for the components. Things were run a bit differently than in meetings past and the exercises that the SIG’s and non AP Chapters went through allowed us a great opportunity to share information on topics like member retention, volunteer sourcing, finding new leaders for your organization, etc. It was a bit less volatile than what usually takes place back in the states, but it was very valuable.

After the day’s events there was a small networking reception and then most folks headed over to watch the Mardi Gras parade. Sydney’s annual Gay Pride Mardi Gras Parade is second in size and scope only to its New Year’s Eve celebration. The streets and parks were packed to the gills with folks either celebrating their lifestyle or just taking it all in. Sydney is known as one of the most accepting cities on the planet for those who live a gay/lesbian lifestyle and regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is a very amazing site and quite characteristic of the welcoming, laid back style of the Sydneysiders.
Today is day 2 of Leadership - more to follow.
Just one last interesting fact...

The hopping marsupial with a pouch that we all know and love as the kangaroo was named when the first English settlers in Australia asked the aborigines what that the name of the hopping animal was. The aborigines, not speaking English, kept responding with the phrase, which phonetically spells kangaroo. It actually means, “What do you mean?”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

May the podcast be with you...

IT & Telecommunications SIG Podcast - The Art of War and Project Management, Episode 1


The four things I miss about Texas
1. The Rangers
2. Gloria's
3. Dunn Brothers
4. Madness Comics and Games


Three days away from a trip to Sydney - nervous about surviving the long flight. Especially rife with terror about getting stranded on an island with John Locke on my way back.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Did Roger Blink?

There is a fascinating article posted in ESPN that breaks down the body language of Roger Clemens during his testimony this week. Regardless of whether you are a fan of baseball, or are even following the fallout from the Mitchell Report, It is a fascinating article that should be of special interest to anyone who has read Blink or Emotional Intelligence.

I'm a big fan of PMs studying body language. It is a critical tool in understanding how to read your team members and clients. Most of all, when you learn to be able to control and manipulate your own body language, it allows you to use it as an additional tool of persuasion (cough cough, Art of War, cough cough).

I'm working on a podcast that will focus on the Art of War and Project Management. It should be ready be the end of the weekend and a link will be posted here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

GTD and Project Management, two great taste that... um... maybe

For about a year now I've been trying to find different ways to blend the old timey PMBOK approach with some of the tools of agile. I'm doing this because after years of suffering the after effects of a "bad experience" with extreme programming, I ended up on a gig at a company for whom the waterfall/pmbok approach was entirely useless. Their business was so wide in scope and in such a constant state of flux that an agile approach was actually the only viable option.

Cue the Scrum intro music...

And as I've mentioned in previous posts, this resulted in something of a shift in my job responsibilities. Which leads to my new project-ish idea.

The new thing I've started working on is how to incorporate GTD into my project management. I have been trying to use it to try to maintain the tidal wave of stuff I have to keep track of each day, but lately I've been wondering how those same principals could be applied to a larger venue - beyond personal productivity to actual project and program management.

I'll post updates as I work through this, but if anyone has comments or suggestions, they'd be most welcome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm working on a project right now with a Developer who has taken on the role of Scrum Master. Because he's the primary contact on the client site, he has unwittingly become the recipient of all the stress that normally falls to the PM. While he has been in the Tech Lead role before, and had to deal with the issues that normally accompany herding developers, he is now also dealing with more "administrative" issues like staffing challenges, basic attendance, billing, and general client management stress and concerns.

The more I watch, the more I see him accidentally evolving into the mindset of a PM. It is at times humorous and painful. At the end of this project, like it or not, his brain will have been re-wired to think like a PM.

I love being a PM because I am good at it, but I do sometimes wonder, if I could go back to that moment when I found the copy of Microsoft Project 3 in the closet at Nick Online and stop myself from starting down this path that would lead to the stress and angst that have become the oxygen of my professional life, would I not feel compelled to forcibly remove myself from that closet before the damage was done?