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Managing the Urgent and Unexpected [Book Review]

Managing unexpected and urgent projects

Urgent and unexpected projects have to be rare to be tolerable. You couldn’t sustain a business that lurched from one unexpected initiative to another, but we all know they happen. Managing the Urgent and Unexpected, by Stephen Wearne and Keith White-Hunt, is a book of case studies and commentary aimed at preparing organisations for these problem projects.

The lessons learned aren’t applicable to the majority of projects at individual levels. Rather, they are designed to help PMO and business leaders put plans in place for those unexpected issues where projects are started quickly and need to be done faster than normal.

Examples? The book includes case studies of dealing with the outcomes of natural disasters such as floods and broken power lines, along with the pile sift, make safe and remove operations at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 disaster in 2001.

The teams required for ‘unexpected’ work

‘Unexpected’ projects deal with a problem that has not been foreseen in terms of:

  • Probability
  • Nature
  • Timing
  • Scale.

Each of these requires a different type of team. [click to continue…]


Sustainability in projects book review

I’ve been reading a lot about linking projects to strategy and project leadership over the past year. It’s as if the C-suite have suddenly woken up to the idea that project managers, programme managers and the portfolio office actually turn up to work and deliver ‘strategy’ every day. Assuming there is that link to business goals, project leaders turn visions into reality and move everyone that bit closer to the goal.

I usually see ‘strategy’ used to mean ‘making more money’ in the form of growing market share, return on investment and so on. Until now, no one has really been talking about strategies to deliver sustainability benefits.

Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success: The Sustainability Wheel, a new book by Dave Shirley and Rich Maltzman, is the one that changes all that.

Integrating sustainability in the portfolio

Projects are not very good at integrating long term strategy because they are short term endeavours. This is the trouble with many disconnects between the strategists and the people who actually approve the work against this year’s targets, and it’s especially true of sustainability which is a long term thing. [click to continue…]


What I’m Reading: April 2015

Best project management books

Whoop! I have finished Mind Change*! It’s taken several months and lots of lugging it about on the train but it’s done. Having said that, I thought the earlier chapters were much more interesting than the bits about video gaming towards the end, but it was still an eye-opening read.

I’ve also read Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success: The Sustainability Wheel by Dave Shirley and Rich Maltzman, the authors behind Green Project Management. It’s not out yet but one of the perks of reviewing books is that I get to see them before they hit the shelves, and I offered the guys a nice comment to put on the cover too. It’s a practical guide to integrating ‘green’ into the business strategy delivered by your portfolios of projects, so if you work at PMO level it’s definitely worth a read. It’s also relevant to project managers, but you might as well start with Green PM first.

My least favourite thing I’ve read this month has to be Spider Sandwiches. It was a gift to the boys and they love it. Jack even went to bed with it once, which means it has trumped Thomas the Tank Engine’s Piano Book. When a book comes further up in his affection than something with a picture of Thomas on then you know it’s a winner. It’s the cockroach curry page that really gets my skin crawling. [click to continue…]


The Feedback Imperative [Book review]

Giving feedback on teams

Just today I’ve had numerous bits of feedback. An online purchase showed me how far through the process I was. My Kindle app used the speed of my reading to tell me how much longer it would take to finish the book. I was sent a letter from my solicitor asking me to complete a feedback form on a transaction they’ve just done for me. Feedback is everywhere.

And yet managers prefer to fire or manage out troublesome people who could potentially have been ‘fixed’ with feedback. Many of the younger people on your project teams expect feedback from their managers more frequently than older team members: it’s one of the defining traits of Millennials, although I’m personally not big on stereotyping a whole generation. She glosses over the best feedback approaches for older team members: I suppose they just have to put up with the change in management style to one that is feedback-heavy even if it isn’t their thing.

Having said that, it’s a good read. The Feedback Imperative is a book about why talking gives you better results. It’s a coaching model for how to give staff feedback without annoying them, and it starts with defining feedback. [click to continue…]


PMI Global Congress EMEA [Video Diary, Day 1]

This is my video diary for 10 May 2015 from the PMI Global Congress EMEA in London.  … Continue Reading->

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