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Premium How-To Course 
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Project Practitioners 
Where's ProjectConnections 
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October 25, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Do you want the best possible team with the best possible chance of completing the project successfully? Then don't bother stacking and ranking them, says Kimberly Wiefling. Her column this week takes on a recent Forbes article in support of this common practice. Even if you disagree, the RSA video on employee motivation that she links to is a must see for this week. And while we're on the subject of stellar leadership, blogger Brian Irwin has an even more challenging message for you: Be invisible, and never give out the answers.

Featured Article

Ranking Employees by Performance: A Seriously Flawed Common Practice
by Kimberly Wiefling

Kimberly Wiefling One of the most distasteful duties I've performed as a project leader was to rank the people on my team, from best to worst performing, during an annual appraisal process. This is akin to ranking the usefulness of different kinds of music -- it's highly dependent on the music's intended purpose, and subject to the taste of the person judging the music.

This so-called "forced stack ranking" is something I resisted at first, but regrettably I caved in and did what was asked of me. Afterwards I went home and took a shower to wash the stench of the whole experience off me.

Please don't misunderstand me. It's not that I think that objective performance evaluation is impossible, or that performance management is evil. As a scientist I understand that the relative contributions of individual employees can be measured objectively, but it's often very difficult, time-consuming and expensive to do so accurately. As a professional familiar with neuroscience and the psychology of human behavior, I've learned that our ability to judge the performance of other people is flawed -- tainted by perceptual biases beyond our control, and often beyond our awareness. But it's my role as a leader that causes me the greatest concern regarding this widespread practice. As a leader my job is to optimize the results of a team, not merely select top-performing individuals. Read Kimberly's case against stack ranking »

Kimberly is in Japan again this month, and continues her globe-trotting ways through the remainder of the year. Check out her website for more information. To catch up with other ProjectConnections contributors, see our Where's ProjectConnections section below.

Premium How-To Course

New! Defining the Project Work
Presented by Cinda Voegtli

Cinda Voegtli This mini-course with ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli explains the purpose and functions of doing a work breakdown, with a special emphasis on staying practical, relevant, and efficient. Best of all, you don't have to do it all by yourself; in fact, if you're doing it alone, you're doing it wrong! Learn about the different ways you can organize a WBS, what critical information you need to start, how to get your team involved, how to check your WBS for completeness, and more. 1 PDU Learn more »

For Team Members

Change Control FormPREMIUM
Worried that innocent accommodation will come back to haunt you? Get a signature. This form documents project changes and their impact on the project timeline, budget, etc., as well as the components of the project deliverables. Low-key, low-overhead documentation like this at least ensures everyone has thought the change through before you agree.

Tools and Equipment ListMEMBER
While we're thinking ahead, this template provides a format for thinking through and documenting the tools (e.g. hardware, software) and equipment needed during a project for testing, prototyping, etc. Avoid the nightmare of finding out what you need only when you actually need it.

For Project Leads

Powerful Project Visions for Developing Projects in Half the TimeMEMBER
What do you do when you have to complete a project in an unreasonable timeframe, or else? You get your cross-functional team together and hash out a one-to-two page consensus vision of what can realistically be done in the time available.

Stakeholder Analysis Summary TablePREMIUM
Your project team has to balance the interests of many different project stakeholders. Some of these stakeholders may have competing goals and interests, and many may have limited resources. This stakeholder analysis can help the team schedule appropriate attention to each, and decide how best to mitigate conflicting stakeholder interests when they do happen.

Project Team Organization and AssignmentsPREMIUM
Organize a winning project team, using this checklist for guidance, and you won't have to worry about the specter of missing team members and unidentified flying objections.

Managing PMs

QA and Beta Test Manager Job DescriptionsSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until November 8, 2012
Don't throw your PMs into the forest without at least giving them a map. These job descriptions show the true breadth of these critical roles when they're done correctly, so they can find the right person for the job.

Selecting Appropriate Agile MethodsPREMIUM
Your PMs want to try using Agile techniques Ð but which one? Assess some key characteristics of your project team and environment, and compare them against the characteristics of several Agile methodologies to determine which is the best approach for each situation.

WBS and Schedule Models

New! WBS Example: ISO 9000PREMIUM
Are you stretching toward ISO compliance in 2013? This WBS will help. It outlines a process for moving from initial exploration and gap analysis through registration and auditing. While specific to ISO, this four-level phase-based breakdown should be useful for any quality management or certification process.

Resource Leveling using Microsoft ProjectPREMIUM
Once you've got a good schedule, you may want to do leveling to ensure you haven't over-assigned any resources. These guidelines walk you through the general approaches to this complex tasks, and provide detailed instructions for using the leveling features of MS Project.

Project Practitioners

Brian Irwin challenges us to take on Invisible Agile Leadership by learning some new techniques. "We do not want to be the sole source of thought for our teams. As leaders, our primary goal with respect to teams should be to help them grow into self-sufficient, high-performing and capable groups of individuals."

Where's ProjectConnections

Kent McDonald is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on October 30 for a presentation at Building Business Capability on using business models to guide project decisions. You can also catch him at Better Software East in early November.

Sinikka Waugh is running several classes in Iowa this fall, including Secrets to Strong Facilitation on October 26, and Problem Solving and Action Planning on November 7. For more information call DMACC Registration at 515-964-6800 or email jmbundy@dmacc.edu.

Randy Englund presents highlights from his new book The Complete Project Manager the Project Summit / Business Analyst World in Chicago, Illinois (November 12-15, 2012). Participants in the symposia and workshop will explore the missing ingredients to move from good to great.

Morley Selver is giving a free webinar on Operators as Part of the Project Team in November. (See the link for registration information.) His workshop on Fundamentals of Project Management will be offered November 22-24 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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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