Cinda Voegtli, Founder and President of ProjectConnections, has over 20 years of experience building organizations in both start-ups and large corporate environments. She has held director-level positions managing up to $50 million budgets. Her previous work includes senior management consulting at corporations and with clients such as Lam Research, Nellcor, and Mobil Corporation. Cinda is a Past President of the IEEE Engineering Management Society, an author and worldwide speaker on engineering and project management, and co-author of a Fortune 500-targeted book on rapid product development.
Archived articles -- Accessible to All
Beyond the Limits of Endurance: Lessons for Being Great Managers!
What makes us think athletes are the only professionals who can improve performance through coaching?
Why do we just sort of do our jobs each day -- deal with what hits our desk, go from one meeting to the next -- and expect to be truly great managers? The real pros out there know that the highest levels of performance require ongoing learning that includes active practice and feedback.
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Avoiding "Spirit-Killing" Project Management
Make the process work for people, not the other way around.
We were bought by another company, and right away we were sent our very own project manager! But rather than feeling a sense of help and support, I remember feeling a sense of immediately being weighed down
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What matters – giving ourselves time to THINK
We're all too busy - with long lists to accomplish every day, so many things that clamor for our attention. How do we KNOW we're getting results vs. just lots of effort? Do we ever step back from our to-do lists, our task lists, our action item lists, our tools, and ask ourselves: ARE we focusing on the things that will really matter to the success of this project?
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Why companies go to Agile development and management
Cinda shares her thoughts from the floor of the Agile 2008 conference.
The short answer I'm hearing is this: because they need to get better results and what they hear about Agile resonates with the problems that kept them from achieving results for their business customers.
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How do we know whether our teams need Agile, and how do we go about it?
For those new to the terminology, the Agile Manifesto may prompt more questions than answers. ProjectConnections' founder goes to Toronto in search of both.
This week I'm at the Agile 2008 conference in Toronto along with Kent McDonald. I'm here to learn more about what the world is referring to as "Agile development" and "Agile project management" for my own edification, as well as to guide Agile content additions to the site for our members and subscribers.
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Making Vacations a Company Project
When was the last time you took a vacation?
Here around the office we have the occasional debate about the proper use of our vacation allotments. It's not that any of us are particularly deprived; it's rather that some of us are fairly inventive about coming up with all sorts of reasons not to use it!
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What does "Great PM" leadership look like?
It's not just about what we do as project managers, it also matters how we do it.
We ask people to do hard things - work hard, meet tough deadlines, operate in the midst of uncertainty and pressure. It is certainly helpful if the way we lead makes it easier for them to follow and contribute and get it all done with a positive attitude!
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Great Careers for Great PMs
Cinda summarizes some of the quirky career paths she's seen and the great PM opportunities she has distilled from them.
In my previous posts, I've provided my ideas about what constitutes a great PM. This time, I would like to bridge to what these ideas can mean for someone's overall career.
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Perfection Not Required, Flexibility and Fit a Must
Do you have to be an engineer and a born leader to be a good PM?
Today I want to tackle a couple of typical questions I hear about what a great PM needs to be (or not) and do. Does a PM in a technical environment need to be "technical" themselves? And what does it mean for a PM to be a "leader"?
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Executive Views on Great PMs
Executives rarely come out and tell us exactly what they want in a project manager, but the tone of this unexpected encounter provides a useful hint.
So what DO executives think of us as project managers and what do they value? I know from conferences and other interaction with project managers that being valued by their executives is something of a holy grailand seemingly not nearly common enough. Read more ...
Evolution of a Project Manager
One project manager's view into what matters most on the job, and what we should be telling new PMs as soon as they start.
If you're a new project manager, do you know for sure what will make execs and team members think you're doing a great job? My perception of what a project manager is and how to be a great PM varied greatly over time, because I got incredibly mixed signals all along the way. Read more ...
What the Girl Scouts Could Teach Us About Project Communication
A veteran project manager, a surprisingly effective email, and the five techniques that made it work.
Why did I immediately go into seriously considering the commitments this leader was asking us to make? What was it about how she communicated the requests that not only made me laugh, but pre-disposed me to making a commitment of my time? Read more ...
The Medal-Worthy PMs Executives Are Desperate To Hire
Executives from a variety of different companies share the qualities they find most valuable in their own indispensible PMs.
"The fact is that there really are plenty of good project managers out there. Good at scheduling, running meetings, communicating, following up on details. But when the stakes are high—the business is on the line; the customer deadlines are short and demanding; the environment is uncooperative, chaotic, and seemingly impossible—'good' is usually not good enough." Read more ...
An Executive View of Career- and Success-Limiting "Boxes"
Unexciting results, or outright mistakes and misfires, can result from operating within "boxes" of constraints -- restricted job descriptions, limited senses of responsibility, myopic perspective about goals. Here's how to create box-breaking ownership on our teams.
"... They see others on a fast track, being promoted and heading up interesting design or customer initiatives; they believe that their own lack of movement is due to not getting given the same plum assignments, not being given the same chances for visibility. The solution, they think, is if they just move over to person X's group and get to work on project Y, then they'll be set and on a fast track." Read more ...
PM Raves: On Being a PM I Want to Hire - STANDING UP for Real Release Dates
How one engineer-turned-PM took a stand on sales quoting unreasonable dates to customers, and kept everyone on speaking terms while doing it.
This PM was presiding over a tough, long, complex hardware-software development project. ... In the midst of an already challenging schedule, he got wind that the sales VP was out there quoting an availability date to customers that was, oh, 2 months earlier than his stretch-but-still-doable schedule estimates said was in the realm of possibility. Read more ...
Words from the VP: Bottom Line Clarity - the Antidote for Project Priority Clutter
How one VP took a stand on an overloaded project list, and communicated priorities with quotable clarity.
I love talking to VPs. Their heads live in the business world and on the bottom line. Perhaps they don't inhabit our project worlds as much as we'd like them to ... [but] In return, we get one the benefits of a strong executive bottom line mindset -- that of absolute clarity around goals and priorities. Read more ...
Dealing with Conflict: Key Questions, 360 Reviews, and Bottom Lines
Three simple but effective steps for resolving conflicts with your team members, without resorting to a lecture.
The other day a friend emailed me with a burning question about "A Situation" with a particular team member. What had started out as some displays of mild to medium recalcitrance ... had spread to an underlying feeling of tenseness in every interaction. He really didn't know where it was all coming from, and thus what to do about it. Read more ...
Ownership and Initiative: Victims and Vanquishers at the End of a Project
Project vanquishers get noticed, and it's never too late to start.
The end of the project is actually one of the most critical times for vanquisher behaviorless for your project specifically, and more for the benefit of your company overall. A vanquisher mindset now can significantly contribute to the success of the projects that will come after yours. Read more ...
Ownership and Initiative: Victims and Vanquishers During Development and Test
When I think about the people I value having on my project teams, I think about the people who know how to make a difference no matter what the circumstances. Those people demonstrate "ownership" of project outcomes, and "initiative" to contribute in different ways to make those outcomes a reality. Read more ...
I'm a Paranoid Bulldog and Proud of It!
I just got off the phone with a PM whose world shifted dramatically within one hour yesterday afternoon. His team is about to ship a system to a customer beta test. The beta test setup was a dream come true for thema site close by, one shift of operation using the machine for production, all night to look at issues and run other tests outside the line; a friendly customer... or so it was... Read more ...
Change-about and Fair Play
Do you feel like you're dragging your projects or teams through necessary changes? The answer to effective change management could be in how you communicate.
In thinking about what to write about this time, I thought that the AHA!s I've had this week might be as valuable to you as they have been to me. Read more ...
New Work, New Roles, New Challenges, New Opportunities
Everyone understands the importance of a good "project start." What about a new role start?
Everyone understands the importance of a good "project start." Now let's talk about another kind of "start": starting a new role or a new set of responsibilities. Here's a quick quiz: Read more ...
Is the Project Starting Without You?
Don't get left behind when the project starts! Be involved at the critical beginning start-up of a project.
Here's a quick quiz on the subject of your role on the beginning of a project: Read more ...
Maximizing Your Project Influence
As a stakeholder, you are important to the start of a project. Learn how to maximize your influence on your project.
As a stakeholder, you are incredibly important to the decisions that get made early on in a project. Your knowledge of what it will really take to get the whole job done is critical. Read more ...
Being "Relevant" As Managers
Technical teams perform better when management processes are made relevant to them.
Managers vs. technical contributors. Respect for process and schedules vs. the cult of creativity. Read more ...
Knowing how to effectively start a new project or role can make or break your success.
This column is about "getting started": the start of projects and the start of new jobs or roles. I'll give an overview of the two issues in this column, then follow up in future columns with detailed discussions of the roles of different project team members in these "start" situations. Read more ...
Managing knowledge for the success of your organization.
In your company, university, or government agency, how does past experience get harnessed for future good? Does your organization learn from its own successes and failures and those of others? Read more ...
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