Friday, January 7, 2011

Grand Re-Opening!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Its 2011 and we're ready to celebrate a brand new year. The Project Notebook will also celebrate a Grand Re-opening at a new location. Come help us celebrate and enter our giveaway of valuable prizes.

Between January 15 and February 28th 2011, visit our new site currently under construction at The NEW Project Notebook. There are two ways to participate on the site:

1) Email a guest blog article in English to Share your PM knowledge with our readers. If yours is selected as the guest article for the Grand Re-opening, you may choose a license of The PM PrepCast ( or The PDU Podcast ( . Aspiring or experienced Project Manager, the PrepCast and Podcast are easy and effective ways to earn training hours or PDUs. Someone who is preparing to take the PMP exam would definitely choose the PM Prepcast to complete 35 contact hours and study all the concepts of the exam. Existing PMPs would surely choose the PDU Podcast to earn their re-certification PDUs. Winner of the license to the PM Prepcast or PDU Podcast must provide registration information within 15 days of award.

2) Find your favorite blog article and leave a comment telling readers why it is your favorite. Best comment receives a paperback copy of Stop Playing Games! by best-selling author Rick A. Morris. Winners of the book must supply a physical mailing address at which they can receive the book within 15 days.

Note that employees and family members of R2 Consulting LLC and OSP International LLC are not eligible to participate.

All comments and articles must be received before midnight on February 28th. Winners will be notified between March 31 and April 15th 2011. All submissions become property of the blog and may be published at a future time at our discretion. Any unclaimed prizes may be awarded to the runners up after April 30.

Friday, December 31, 2010

What's in Your Management Planning Meeting?

Did you meet all your expected business outcomes in 2010? Were you "promise keepers" that made "raving fans" of your clients other stakeholders? If not, perhaps one agenda item for 01/01/2011 should be a review of your management planning meetings. How are they conducted? What is the agenda? What are the desired outcomes? Are these status and "look back" meetings? Or forward looking planning meetings?

Let's take a quick look at the words and see what they tell us about what the meeting should be. We've all heard the quote about management being about doing things right (vs. leadership as doing the right things). Is there an emphasis in your meeting about doing things right? Planning implies a forward look at the business outcomes and the resources, time lines, and budgets which will be applied to achieve them. These definitions set the stage for consideration of how your management planning meeting might be reshaped. As Stephen Covey says in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "Begin with the end in mind." The meeting purpose (Management Planning) should determine the focus and the agenda.

Status and "look back" are important. Where you have been should at least have some consideration in where you are going next. But status and look back shouldn't consume the entire meeting. I can't say I can tell you a percentage, however one way of reducing this to zero is by having short (no more than a half page) written status reports that are shared with your Board or other senior leader colleagues in advance of the planning meeting. The status updates should be shared at least a day or two before the planning meeting so issues can be considered while forming forward looking strategies.

That allows the management planning meeting to have a forward looking agenda. It would be appropriate for each department to state the objectives and outcomes they plan to meet in the coming week(s). Special emphasis should be given to collaborative or cooperative needs. That gives everyone a chance to have a voice and discuss any resourcing or budgeting issues which may arise. There is not just a focus on planning, but on problem solving.

The other important ingredient of your Management Planning Meeting is that all the required participants be present. This should be set aside as a sacred time so that critical decision makers and those required to solve problems will be present. If everyone cannot be there, then in most cases the meeting should be postponed to avoid improperly considered decisions. Not finding a time when this is possible? Then the agenda of your first planning meeting in 2011 should be to solve the problem of making this possible.

Don't be shy about providing meeting pre-work. Pre-work isn't about passing out the PowerPoints so that the meeting just rehashes them. Its about providing background documentation and information for the decisions that must be made and the problems to solve. This will help participants to be prepared to more effectively meet the goals of the meeting.

During the meeting, a volunteer or appointed scribe should take notes on the actions and outcomes agreed to. A five minute debrief will allow the scribe to read back the notes and actions for accuracy. The meeting should close with a quick check on the meeting progress and what, if anything, should be modified to make the next meeting more effective.

Your effective use of meeting time will build enthusiasm and commitment -- two of the essential ingredients of building a high performing team. The well planned and faciliated meeting promotes better follow up and follow through, and set the stage for the meeting results needed to improve execution and ability to meet the planned outcomes. Well planned and implemented meetings will yield achievable and predicatable results going forward. Isn't this, after all, what you really set out to accomplish?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Fresh Start for an Old Project

By: Susan Peterson, M.B.A., PMP
Copyright 2010, Susan Peterson, All Rights Reserved

As we ring in a brand new year full of promise, we may feel the incentive to make resolutions to improve our lives in a variety of ways. Just as the calendar gives us an “excuse” to start anew in our personal lives, it can also give us the impetus to re-think the current projects with which we are involved. It’s easy, particularly with a lengthy project, to feel trapped in a rut. The meetings all sound alike, the progress is miniscule, and the personality conflicts abound. Or perhaps the project is progressing as planned, but people seem to be sleepwalking through their tasks. While keeping the goals of a project intact, there are some easy actions that can revitalize a “tired” project.

A good place to start with a fresh approach is the actual project work to be accomplished. A quick, high-level overview of what’s progressing, what’s lagging, and what doesn’t seem to be moving at all can often pinpoint tasks that can be dropped or at least modified. Generally, at the beginning of a project there is a tendency to list every possible task in order to ensure that nothing will be missed. As the project progresses, at least some of these tasks become superfluous, redundant or meaningless. Since other tasks surface as the project progresses, the team members as well as the project manager can experience a sense of being overwhelmed. The overview can identify tasks that can be dropped, leaving everyone with a sense of relief.

A common challenge on project teams is that there is little or no “cross pollinization” among team members with regard to activities and responsibilities. The start of a new year is a good time to make some changes in who is doing what. The team can provide input with regard to new assignments so that the project manager is not faced with merely rearranging the Gantt chart resource allocations. While there are some people who would not willingly accept a different assignment even if it meant a 50% raise, the majority will welcome some change that they have controlled. New perspectives are bound to surface.

What would a project be without meetings? Now is a great time to look at the actual purpose of each scheduled periodic meeting that is connected with the project. Consider the following questions:
1) What is actually getting accomplished in each one of these meetings?
2) Are the meetings poorly attended?
3) Is the attendee list growing while the output is dwindling?
4) Are the same things being re-hashed at every session?
If the answer to #1 is “very little” or “nothing” and at least one of the remaining questions can be answered with a loud “yes”, it’s time to revamp the meeting, eliminate it or use a more effective method of communication.

Now that everyone is back from the holidays, it’s a good time to re-energize projects by capitalizing on the renewed energies of the manager and the team. A little overhauling can produce major positive results.

Best wishes for 2011!

Susan Peterson, M.B.A., PMP, is a consultant who manages diverse programs and projects in both the private and public sectors for individual organizations and consortia. She also conducts enterprise assessments of project portfolio management practices. Prior to establishing her consulting practice Susan led major efforts for Fortune 100 organizations throughout the United States. She teaches the Project Management Simulation capstone course as well as the Project Portfolio Management course in the University of California, San Diego, Project Management certificate program and is a member of the curriculum committee. She can be contacted at

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Need a year end tax deduction?

Need a year end tax deduction? Please consider donating to the Jerry King Memorial Scholarship for PM Excellence and support training for educators and unemployed Project Managers. Visit Jerry King Memorial Scholarship for Project Management Excellence. The scholarship is an offering of the PMI Educational Foundation. We've raised more than $3,000 toward the $25,000 goal since announcing on this blog a few months ago!