In a follow-up to her last column, Kimberly Wiefling gives us Scrappy new ways of looking at the world, and simple, practical tools for aligning project efforts to company strategy. To compliment her piece, we have a variety of articles and templates to help sharpen your project communication skills. Plus, check out the debut blog from Alan Zucker, a financial services veteran advocating a different way of coaching up new project managers. Got other topics you'd like us to address here? Let us know! We're always listening.
Wisdom, Perspective, and Advice from the Field
Scrappy Design Thinking: Simple Tools, Practical Rules
by Kimberly Wiefling
Both design thinking and Scrappy Project Management share an obsession with "the customer." And both start by "thinking from the future" rather than getting stuck in the current situation, hampered by self-limiting beliefs about what's possible. Rather than using the classic design thinking model of Empathize -- Define -- Ideate -- Prototype -- Test, let's use a cycle that's a bit easier to remember: Why? -- Who? -- What? -- How?
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An Apprenticeship Model of Learning
By Alan Zucker
Alan Zucker has a storied history in project management, especially in financial services. In his debut blog for ProjectConnections, he describes his organization's program for recruiting and training talented project managers from surprising backgrounds. "Some of my best college hires have come from unexpected majors like history and chemical engineering," he writes. Alan advocates an apprenticeship model, "consistent with the current trend in education that emphasizes 'learning by doing.'" His post addresses not just the model, but also role evolution, mentoring examples, and more.
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Being a Business-Driven Business-Savvy PM (the kind Execs adore)
Communicating Why the Project Matters - New Product (or Project) Business Plan – PREMIUM
Believing in a project isn't enough -- not even if it's the higher-ups doing the believing. At some point, you have to really demonstrate and communicate the actual and potential value of a project. This template describes a new project effort in terms everyone can understand and measure: business objectives, constraints, market analysis, competitive analysis, and more.
Personal Power Tools! (Grow critical strengths and keep your sanity, too!)
Communication Starts with Our Ears, Not Our Mouths - Understand Your Project Stakeholders to Influence Them
Alfonso Bucero reminds us that if we want to be understood, we must first understand. "The biggest mistake I made in the past frequently was to put my highest priority on expressing my ideas and feelings. What most people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood." He gives his usual practical, on-point advice for being a valuable project advocate -- starting with hearing what your stakeholders are really saying.
Don't Go Away Mad - Handling the Endgame of a Project – MEMBER
One experienced project manager's practical, issue-focused strategies for avoiding the frustrations that often lurk for the unwary in the final stages of a project. In a detailed, solution-oriented format, he recommends specific tools and techniques for avoiding the deadly "just skip to the end" trap.
Say NO to Silos – Making the Functional-Project Matrix WORK!
Bridging the Tech and Non-Tech Worlds: Technique Brief - Context Diagrams – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until August 7, 2014
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand meetings. Context diagrams are a time-tested method for using simple symbols to illustrate a system's boundaries, benefits, interactions, and data flows. Simple sketches can aid discussions of project features and scope, and detailed graphical interface specifications can improve communication and understanding with non-technical stakeholders.
How-To Course: Project-Based Performance Appraisals – PREMIUM
Team members are far more motivated to give their all if they realize they will actually get credit for contributing to a project's success. Learn how to easily make project performance a meaningful part of everyone's regular review ... including yours. 1 PDU.
Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
- Tactical Communication: Margaret de Haan reminds us to set expectations before problems arise.
- Automated Communication: 17 great IFTTT recipes for Project Managers, curated by DeAnna Burghart.
- Realistic Communication: Ann Drinkwater wants us to call things what they are. "Project management isnÕt about producing reports or documents, but managing to ensure project success."
Carl Pritchard his hosting his first VIRTUAL public training the last week of July. The course takes place four mornings in a row and covers Project Management Mechanics. More information and registration available from Carl's website (pdf).
Randy Englund and co-author Alfonso Bucero are teaming up to organize "Project Management Soft Skills Days" in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, September 18-20. The event will be for project leaders, upper managers and executives who want to become more complete and effective leaders. For more information, please contact them by email.
Geof Lory will be in Dalian China the third week of August to do a traditional project management simulation class using the Fissure simulation and Microsoft Project. For more information about the Fissure simulation experience, visit the Fissure website.
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