Do more by narrowing your focus

A meeting once a week (with no end in sight) to make improvements will result in two things: 1. No timely progress. 2. Frustration and annoyance by people who are in the habit of getting shit done. Instead of having 20 things on the go at the same time - each with their one hour weekly meeting - let's focus on 2 or 3 in a month and drive them out to release or completion. Then onto the next iteration or the next thing. Clear your calendar for a day or a week, get in a room, and get it done. We can't afford to wait for a year to go by and see the first (and only?) iteration of 20 things finish at about the same time. Better to…
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Declaring “work” dead

It's time to list out everything we've got on our plates and declare a bunch of "work" dead. A possible litmus test: the project or initiative has stalled, doesn't deliver on our strategy, fails to create value for customers, or does little to enhance the team member experience. If any (or heaven forbid all of those) criteria are met, declare it dead and over. Tell the sponsor or person who asked you to do the work that it's dead. If they want to start it back up in the future and brings resources, great. Until then, there are a tonne of other things to work on.
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Let’s Run a Pilot

At work I hear a lot about groups looking to run what they call “pilots” which essentially means moving forward with an idea rather than going through the due diligence and thoughtful analysis one would put together for an initiative/project. The result tends to be that time, money, and resources are wasted spent on creating/modifying a process or bringing new technology in-house without 1. A plan on how to support it (if IT is even told about this at all), 2. No real idea if it solves a problem or satisfies a business need, and 3. Absolutely no clue if the benefits will outweigh the costs (more likely it's the opposite). Now hold on there, Negative Ned, do you know how exciting it was when the "pilot” was running? It…
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Zombie Nation

A few months ago, I supported the go-live of a large, organization-wide project. Along with many other poor souls, I ended up being given a crash-course on becoming a zombie: Step 1 start working more than 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, living out of a hotel room  (more…)
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Promises I Didn’t Make and Can’t Keep

Trying to deliver on someone else's promises is frustrating, especially when you weren't involved in making those promises. To make matters worse, this person won't acknowledge that their commitments can't be delivered on in the time frames promised. But, rather than face reality and let an already-overworked team know that the revised delivery dates are okay, the message back is, "just work harder." Thanks, we'll get right on violating the laws of spacetime. And so the frustration goes. So much so, that it's akin to screwing your dick into a light socket connected to a dimmer switch. At first it tingles but eventually you're clenching your fists and screaming.
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A Man with a Plan

As much as I want to rail against being labelled a "planner," I can't help myself. I'm a man with a plan. I like planning things: it reduces stress in my life, especially when things go differently than expected. And when things do go differently - as is bound to happen from time to time - I have the original plan in my head to understand what the impacts are and what needs to be done to still achieve the desired outcome. I find good planning makes things much more enjoyable because I worry less about the "what-ifs;" it frames the options that are available to respond to the unexpected. Moreover, having a plan frees up my mental energy and allows me to focus on other things.  (more…)
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Communication: How much, how often, and to whom?

I wrote this as a discussion starter on LinkedIn and figured I might as well put it here, with a few minor edits and expansion on ideas: With small, short-term projects involving and/or affecting a limited number of stakeholders, communication of progress and change is fairly straight-forward. If communication takes a bit of a backseat chances are you can remedy that with a quick email or phonecall. However, with large, long-term projects like a core systems replacement, communication has to be aimed at different groups with varying levels of detail and possibly at different intervals. (more…)
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