Monday, May 25, 2009

Green, Yellow, Red, Blue project status?

Link to another post on green, yellow, red project status

Several weeks ago I was asked if I could attend a meeting with Program Managers where we would discuss what a Program Manager was in our organizations.

We all had a slight twist to how we defined a Program Manager and we had an excellent discussion about our individual tools and methodologies.

One item I found interesting was one group had status updates included the color blue (the normal is green, yellow and red). Blue meant the project needed to be resuscitate to get it back on track. Creative ideas like this helps to add a new twist to status updates.

Sometimes we need to move away from textbook Project Management methodologies and try something different that may (or may not) work for our organizations.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

PMI Madison Professional Development Day 2009

Recently I attended the Madison PMI Professional Development Day at the Monona Terrace. I attended many excellent talks but a few really hit home for me.

Kathryn Jeffers gave a talk on using candor in your projects. One of her examples included an unruly team member that would talk on his cell phone, work on his laptop and would not participate during team meetings.

The team members felt that this was disruptive so she spoke with the person (Mr. Unruly). She asked him if he wasn't going to be part of the project she would find a new team member. Mr. Unruly said that he couldn't leave, because his boss (the CEO) wanted him on the project to be his eyes and ears. So she went to the CEO to ask him to speak with Mr. Unruly about cleaning up his act.

Several weeks went by and several more team meetings and Mr. Unruly was still unruly (the CEO didn't have time to speak with him). Shortly after that Mr. Unruly tried his meeting tactics at a meeting involving several Executives. After that he was fired.....

: don't be afraid to speak up if you see a problem.

Craig Plain gave a talk on process improvement within the Air Force. One of his examples was improving the time it took to change the oil on a military plane. Using their dated old methods they determine the team that changed the oil spent ~19hrs and walked 17,000 feet to complete the task. They were able to improve the process to under 4 hrs and ~3000 feet traveled.

: even something as simple as an oil change can be done more efficiently.

The keynote speaker Gene Kranz (a retired NASA flight director and is best known for his role in directing the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13) walked us through the Apollo 13 mission (which included dozens of photos from ground control during the mission).

During this mission he was given 2 options to get the astronauts home, fire the thrusters to turn the ship around before the moon (taking 1.5 days to get home) or sling shot around the moon (5 days to get home). Option 1 they didn't have enough fuel to do. And option 2 their batteries would run out if they didn't cut off one day from their timeline. So the engineers came up with a plan to cut off 1 day. After they sling shot the moon they would fire the thrusters for 5 minutes which would increase their speed by 1000ft/sec.

So the plan was a go. Fire the thrusters for 5 minutes and then off. Their calculations after this indicated that they would make up the time! But their splash down zone changed by several thousand miles. What happened? When they made the calculation they thought that 2 men would be in the rear of the craft and 1 in the front. That wasn't the case. All 3 were in the rear.

Lesson: from that point forward they would not make any more assumptions.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Make Linkedin Work for you!

Over the last few years Linkedin has been growing so I thought I would post my ideas on what I did to help my profile.

Make sure you have as much as you can within your profile filled out, such as:

1. Add a head shot
2. Summary (this can be your elevator speech)
3. Change your Public Profile link to something different
4. Add your Specialties (typically this is where the search engines look)
5. Under Experience you can list your jobs. At the very least always include a short statement of what the organization does and a bit on your accomplishments
6. Education
7. Join a few groups that interests you; you have 50 you can join (the more you join the more connections you will have)
8. Add any awards you have received
9. Add links to your blog or personal website
10. Get recommendations (if your references are on Linkedin contact them to ask them to write up a recommendation!)
11. You can also install different Widgets like what events you are attending, your travel schedule, books you are reading or even details on your recent blog posts, or install a widget to post the Word copy of your resume.
12. Add a keywords section to each of your jobs (this will help drive traffic to your profile).

Making Connections

1. Open up that contacts book or contacts in Outlook or Facebook and start to search to see if they are on Linkedin
2. If you go to networking events or meeting new clients and receive a business card, again, see if they are on Linkedin (also, in the invite write a personal message)
3. If you belong to smaller organizations review their member lists and see if they are on Linkedin
4. Do NOT post on group message boards that you are looking to make connections!

Driving traffic to your profile

1. Make sure you have all of the items listed in the first section above completed. This will help the search engines within Linkedin find you.
2. Search for yourself within linkedin using words you would think people may search on (select the town you are in currently to help narrow the search).  If you show up in the first couple of pages you should start to see more hits.  If not, it is time to add some more keywords to your profile.
3. If you visit message forums (on Linkedin or elsewhere) add a link to your Linkedin profile in your signature line
4. Add a link to your Linkedin profile to your email signature line
5. After you join some groups review some of their messages and if you find some interesting ones comment on it
6. Once you have some connections you can use the “What are you working on” section to help your connections know what you are up to or post a link to your latest blog post

Notable Quote:
Dan Schawbel
“In order to succeed in the new world of work you MUST become the commander of your career.”

Other useful links on this topic:,_Part_One.html