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Current ProjectConnections Newsletter

Every other week, the ProjectConnections newsletter keeps you up-to-date with our latest project management articles, blog postings, and site resources. Newsletter subscribers also get the inside track on special Premium templates available for download to those with a free Member account!

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Current Newsletter (View as new window)


Team dysfunction, personal failures - why it's all GOOD
ProjectConnections  Newsletter
Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
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April 3, 2014 In this edition:
No one likes to fail. It feels awful. And it certainly seems to me that life is challenging enough without piling on more negative emotion every time we don't prevail. Yet it's so easy to take failure hard, especially when we were being conscientious, working hard, truly trying to do our best.

This week's newsletter contains a lot about the positive side of difficulties and outright "failures," if we choose to see and use them in that spirit. I personally am not always great at seeing the bright side of things, but definitely have realized how important a positive spin can be to my own sanity, especially at work. Read on for ways to help us all banish the angst of project difficulties and failures, in favor of the power those problems can give us for moving forward in a better way.


» Wisdom, Perspective, & Advice
» Business-Savvy PM
» Achieving "Just Enough" PM
» Personal Power Tools!
» Say NO to Silos
» Project Templates Spotlight
» Premium How-To Course
» Where's ProjectConnections?
» Corporate Subscriptions



New! PM Light™ Fast Ramp starts May 9 - Save $200 if you register today!

PM Light Fast Ramp Are your management techniques practical and strong without being off-putting or overpowering? Do your teams resist any hint of process, and balk at any mention of project management? Do you wonder how to make all this supposedly important PM stuff actually work across radically different projects and teams? PM Light™ can help you figure out which tools and techniques make sense for bringing just enough project management to your teams. Fridays, May 9-June 27. 16 PDUs. Learn More »
Wisdom, Perspective, and Advice from the Field
Kent McDonald The Movie Phone Approach to Estimating
by Kent McDonald


Have you ever come up with an estimate, only to have your sponsor tell you it's too much, or too long, because they already have a number in mind? It's one of the more annoying aspects of project planning, for everyone. Kent McDonald has developed a new coping mechamism, based on the Seinfeld scene where Kramer acts as the Movie Phone guy. Here's how Movie Phone Estimating works. Read More »

Team Dysfunction = Failure, ONLY if you let it
"Sometimes drama is necessary to illuminate what would otherwise be overlooked." Is there "drama" in your team, in the form of attitudes, acting out, conflict? What might it be saying about underlying issues that you need to address pronto? Read what Mike Aucoin has to say about the purpose of team dysfunction and some possibly-surprising remedies for team tension.

Being a Business-Driven Business-Savvy PM (the kind Execs adore)
Don't just "settle"!
Margaret de Haan asks, even if we've been given the Time, Cost, and Scope for the project, "are we really just responsible for that?" Read her take on thinking "outside the box," getting unstuck from what you and stakeholders currently know, and getting extreme and even ridiculous to find ways to exceed those original expectations and deliver unexpected extra value to the business.

And ... MORE on thinking outside the box -- for your career
One of Cinda's classic articles, from her talks with a VP with very specific criteria for which people he turns to, gives responsibility to, and promotes -- vs. people he says "are operating in a box of their own making ... putting a box around their own careers." Read her thoughts on how to have and show the ownership and initiative execs look for.
Achieving "Just Enough" PM (Your team will thank you for it)
Your tools won't matter if the relationships are not there
We can achieve what we think is "just enough" with our project tools and techniques -- and still flame out. From a personal project experience, Cinda relays forehead-slapping, ARGH-inducing, contrition-building reminders about the criticality of relationships over tools.
Personal Power Tools! (Grow critical strengths and keep your sanity, too!)
What doesn't destroy you will make you stronger! (Here's how)
Yes, yes, we've all heard that one. But Alfonso Bucero has some personal stories and very specific advice for us on HOW failures (personal, project, other) can be seen as gifts -- and even set us up for huge breakthroughs.
Say NO to Silos – Making the Functional-Project Matrix WORK!
Why your "matrixed" teams may be sputtering, tripping, or failing – MEMBER
The last couple of weeks, Cinda has seen a surge in questions about making matrixed cross-functional teams actually work. (You know, actually getting TIME from functional resources, achieving decision-making outside of silos, giving teams real authority.) It's not enough to just put cross-functional teams into place. Here's a paper originally written by Paula Martin, now with the International Institute for Matrix Management, on all the organizational factors that matter.
Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
Failure = doom, ONLY if you run
A wise man once said, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Perhaps that last project is not an experience you'd really want to have again. "Lessons learned" efforts, done well, let the team take an honest look back and articulate important truths for next time.
  • What's so important about Lessons Learned? -- explain the importance of your project review to team members who may be reluctant to relive it, or eager to skip ahead to new things – PREMIUM

  • Lessons Learned Survey -- an easy way to get detailed, anonymous, and frank feedback from a team – GUEST

  • Lessons Learned Meeting Agenda -- guidelines for how to structure a project retrospective or "lessons learned" meeting to keep the blame game out of it and emerge with the insights that matter MOST – MEMBER

  • Lessons Learned Meeting Report -- capture the results of a lessons learned meeting, emphasize the issues that had the biggest impact on the project, and communicate the most important insights that will help future teams be successful – PREMIUM

  • Agile Technique Brief: Retrospectives -- an agile technique for compiling lessons learned without bogging down the team, and with an eye toward future success – PREMIUM

Project Team Organization and Assignments – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until April 17, 2014
Project Team Organization and Assignments The process of systematically constructing this team list usually brings to light people who have been "forgotten". How often has the team included all the right development people, but not the regulatory person? Or the key business sponsor? The process of documenting roles and responsibilities also helps get explicit commitments from team members and their managers on what responsibilities they are signing up for. And once the list has been created, it can then be used to ensure that all the team members are included appropriately in meetings, reviews, etc.
Premium How-To Course
Consistent Risk Management Across the Organization
Presented by Carl Pritchard

Carl Pritchard, lead author of the PMBOK® Guide Risk Management chapter and principal of Pritchard Management Associates, explains the whats, whys, and hows of risk management planning in this mini course. Learn how to get consistent about risk across the organization, without burying your project teams in unnecessary paperwork. 1 PDU. Learn more »
Where's ProjectConnections?
Kent McDonald is reprising his BA World presentation on Analysis in Agile at Central Indiana IIBA Professional Development Day on April 22, and at the Seattle IIBA Chapter Meeting on April 29.
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.


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