In This Issue:

From the Editor

Kimberly Wiefling on The Power of Negative Thinking

Lessons from a Hurricane by Cinda Voegtli

Project Practitioners Blog

Agile Corner:
- Plan, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

- In Keno Veritas

Related Resources

Featured Bundle: Project Test Plans Bundle

Where's ProjectConnections?
- Colorado and good old California

Corporate Subscriptions



October 16, 2008, sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

What's the worst that could happen?

Some days, especially lately, it seems that's a question better left unasked. This week, columnist Kimberly Wiefling dares us not just to ask the question, but to build our project plans around the answer. Her suggestion to figure out the worst case and use it to plan for the best has many applications (in project management and elsewhere). In this issue of our newsletter, you'll see some of the best project leadership under the worst of conditions, and some new agile technique briefs that even PM traditionalists can use to make the best of some of our most challenging project tasks, as well as project plan examples and risk management techniques for a variety of different situations.


Featured Article

The Power of Negative Thinking - Project Management in Reverse, by Kimberly Wiefling

Kimberly Wiefling

Most of my work revolves around the power of creating breakthroughs through extreme optimism and hideously positive thinking for which "hyperbole" simply isn't a big enough word. I frequently rant and rave about the hazards of know-it-alls who poo-poo every idea and wield their negativity like a scythe, cutting down anything new or imaginative in its path. But the popularity of negative thinking is undeniable, and, like most veteran project leaders, I'm a pro at it. I was reminded of this when I recently received a note from a guy I used to work for at HP who, after reading my book, mused, "It seems a bit cynical. Is that intentional?" Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick! Yes, of course it's intentional! Any human being who's been a project manager for more than a couple of hours and hasn't become a tad cynical simply hasn't been paying attention.

Negativity for its own sake is an annoyance at best, and a soul-sucking experience similar to what I imagine a psychic vampire would produce. But in the right hands, it's a weapon of mass construction, freeing the mind of half-hidden dark thoughts, and an on-ramp to the superhighway of results in your project. Jump in, strap in, and hold on 'cause we're going to take the curves up on two wheels.

Kimberly urges us to embrace the dark side, unleash our inner cynics, and use their power for good in our projects. Read more »


Featured Article

Lessons from a Hurricane: Leadership in the midst of a project storm, by Cinda Voegtli

Cinda Voegtli

I like word pictures especially for more ephemeral concepts like leadership. We can talk about it all we want, but I understand it best when I see it in action—which also gives me something to model my behaviors around and model for others as well.

Gustav damaged my parents' home, and flooded (to the point of requiring internal gutting) their family camp on a nearby lake. I went home for a week to help my parents with clean up, insurance filing, decision-making, and the angst of losing so much and having so much to deal with in the aftermath.

Louisiana's current governor is a 37-year-old named Bobby Jindal. He got a huge amount of press exposure 7 months into his first term in the lead up to and aftermath of Gustav. After the storm, while I was preparing for my trip to Louisiana, I monitored the local news website for my parents since they were without electricity. In the course of this I saw several Jindal press conferences, followed by several articles about how he was handling the mess.

I've excerpted a few passages from two of those articles because I think they portray an interesting view of a leadership persona in action. In the following indented passages I've bolded words of interest and surrounded the excerpts with my thoughts on how it resonates for leading projects. Read more »


Project Practitioners Blog

Our Project Practitioners blog is off to a great start, with posts and comments flying around like Â… well, like blog posts and comments. We like to think that we've got something unique here, though, by focusing on really practical project applications and insights. You can check the blog page directly, or pick it up via our RSS feed. Here's what's on our bloggers' minds this week.

Laura Erkeneff (Training for Techies, Inc.) on Networking as a strategic business skill and why you should do it, even if you think you hate it.

Alfonso Bucero (BUCERO PM Consulting) on Managing your Executives who don't seem to want to know or think about project management processes.

Margaret de Haan on Managing a project without authority.


Agile Corner

NEW Plan, Lather, Rinse, Repeat - Agile Technique Brief: Agile PlanningPREMIUM
No matter what your project methodology, the key to successful planning is a willingness to change the plan as the circumstances do. That's one area that well grounded agile teams have mastered, and it shows in their adaptability to changing, sometimes alarming, circumstances. This guideline explains what agile planning looks like, how to do it, and how planning at the iterative, feature, and day-to-day level fits together to create a usable—and changeable—project strategy.

Related Technique Briefs:
Requirements CardsPREMIUM
This brief explains how to use the technique—referred to here as requirements cards in order to widen the horizon to customers and stakeholders.

Project Value ModelsPREMIUM
Learn to reach agreement on the project purpose, risks, constraints, assumptions, and more, and use that information to decide which projects and features to develop, prioritize them, and keep the priorities consistent with changing circumstances.
NEW In Keno Veritas - Agile Technique Brief: EstimatingPREMIUM
Gambling on project estimates is risky business, if only because we're generally so spectacularly bad at guessing how long something will take, and how many things will happen to make it even more difficult than we expected. Ironically, gambling—or at least a gambling game—can provide an innovative and entertaining way to see what's in the cards for various project features. This technique brief explains how to use Planning Poker to generate better task estimates, or "story points." It makes a challenging task more fun and more accurate, by focusing more on relative feature sizes and actual production during a project iteration. Beats reading tea leaves.
Related Resources:
"What Does an Agile Project Plan Look Like?", by Kent McDonald
Would you know an agile project plan if you saw one? Kent McDonald compares agile planning practices to traditional PM.

Estimating Process and MethodsPREMIUM
Project Poker not your game? This guideline provides some more traditional alternatives (though it does omit some of the more obvious ones, like throwing darts at a calendar).

Related Resources

Planning is as variable as projects, so the kind of project plan that's best for your project is going to depend on the goals, circumstances, corporate culture, and overall attitude about planning and project management. Here are a few examples, as a reminder of just how different they can look.

Association High Level Plan for PM Training ProgramPREMIUM
Project planning, as we often say, can be applied to a myriad of situations. In this file, you can see how one professional association applied simple project management principles to their leadership training program roll-out.

Collaborative Milestone-Driven Planning ProcessPREMIUM
How do you draft a usable project plan when every contributor has a different idea of what's required and when? Get everyone focused on the one thing they can all get behind: the business milestones. Here's how.

Integration PlanPREMIUM
"We're going to plug everything in and it's going to work," isn't much of a plan. This template outlines documentation for hardware/software integration prior to system testing, so you can be sure the team is thinking everything through.

Maintenance Planning Guidelines and Plan OutlineMEMBER
Once your product is released to the user, how will it be maintained, and how long? This guideline helps the team plan ahead for the work that happens after release, and includes an annotated outline for writing a Maintenance Plan.

Project Plan Example: Small ProjectPREMIUM
Project plans come in all sizes. This example is more petite, for those little projects that would be crushed under the weight of a full-sized project plan and schedule.


Featured Bundle

Testing 1, 2, 3 - Project Test Plans Bundle

Project Test Plans Bundle If alpha and beta are testing your patience, we have tools and techniques that can help. This bundle of over a dozen test-oriented templates and guidelines will help you avoid embarrassing and costly issues at the customer, and late (and also costly) surprises during development. Correcting issues gets progressively more expensive the closer you get to delivery; so the earlier you are in your project, the more money you can save with test planning. These resources show you how to test at each stage of development, then test the whole system from the customer's viewpoint. Get these 14 valuable testing plans and tools in a single bundle, even if you don't have a Premium subscription, and put them to work on your project right away. Find out more »

Want to license these templates for your organization? Contact us for licensing terms.


Where's ProjectConnections?

Randy Englund and co-author Alfonso Bucero will be in balmy Denver, Colorado, next week, at PMI SeminarsWorld, where they will present their seminar on "Creating Excellence in Project Management."

The October 29 growBOLD Lunch Meeting will feature ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli discussing "The In's and Out's of Virtual Teams: What does it take to make it work?" This lunch meeting in Redwood City is open to the public (non-members of growBOLD pay a small fee).

Anita Wotiz, of Software Requirements Capture Guideline fame, is teaching a 6-week course on Software Project Planning, Monitoring, and Management beginning Oct 23 at UCSC Extension in Cupertino, California. More information and registration instructions are available on the UCSC Extension website.


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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