Delivery Effectiveness & Baseball

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is the Practice Director for Slalom’s Delivery Effectiveness solutions. He is based in Chicago and enjoys bringing actionable, tactical solutions to his clients to help them improve their delivery.

Baseball is drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast
Joe Garagiola, MLB Catcher and TV announcer

The effective delivery of projects is also an endless drama with an equally tumultuous turnover in players. This is my second blog comparing baseball and the world of delivery. In my first blog on this topic, I compared consultants to coaches. In this entry, I’m comparing the growth and development of project managers to that of baseball players. Specifically, I’m looking at the parallels between PM’s and young ball players in their development.

Little League
When children start out playing baseball, we coaches work to ensure that everyone gets equal playing time. We also are focused on teaching the game and therefore try to have all the kids play in each position in the field. When the players have very little experience, this strategy of equality sometimes backfires. Little Johnny really has no clue how to pitch, and putting him in the game will hurt the team’s chances of winning. However, to offset that down side, we must remember that in their early baseball career, skills are being developed, rules are being learned, and teamwork is being learned.  It’s not about the Win.

As players get older, coaches become a bit less altruistic in their assignment of defensive positions. Players begin to specialize. The games become more competitive. Betsy is clearly the best short stop, but that doesn’t mean the coach can place her at first base (nor would that help the team!). She doesn’t know that position as well. Even with the best intentions of the coaches, inequity creeps in. Coaches start to recognize how their players are developing and they begin to give the toughest assignments to those that are most capable. However, there is still room for the learner. Since some positions see less action, a less capable fielder can still be ‘hidden’ in a position that potentially may cause less damage. Read more of this post

Building Workplans at the Right Level

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is the Practice Director for Slalom’s Delivery Effectiveness solutions. He is based in Chicago and enjoys bringing actionable, tactical solutions to his clients to help them improve their delivery.

Co-written by John Kackley

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
– President Dwight D Eisenhower

While hopefully none of us is planning for an attack, the wisdom of the 34th president can be applied to work more close to our hearts: establishing the foundation of a project. When supporting clients as a project manager, a lot of time is spent discussing what should be in a project plan. However, clients are usually not looking at the holistic planning process; they are focused on the mechanics of the plan itself and on how small to slice up the work packages. Notwithstanding Ike’s advice, the focus of this blog is on the plan itself. There is a common fear that if tasks are planned at too high a level, then critical details may be missed or team members may go too far astray before a misstep can be found.  This begs the question, “what is the right level of detail to create in a plan that makes it useful to manage a project?”

We think that it is important that one doesn’t start with the end in mind with regard to a  project plan. That is to say, you should not start with the tool or the template. A plan needs an outline. A work breakdown structure or a mind map are great starting points.

A mind map is a visual breakdown which can illustrate everything needed to be covered in the project. It’s visual, rather than linear, which makes it easier to digest. In addition, since it does not have the formality of a workplan, it can be used to discuss scope without getting hung up on workplan details (e.g., dependencies, resource allocations, work-day effort). Read more of this post

The Power of Personality Management

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

Co-written by Stacey Campbell

[Genius] is personality with a penny’s worth of talent. Error which chances to rise above the commonplace
–Pablo Picasso

While we may not all be geniuses, whether in the arts or sciences, we can understand that personality is key to making things happen. Personality impacts the management of people. People management is one of the under-rated but often most needed skills for delivery effectiveness. It is critical to understand that without the participation of other people, a project manager (for example) is incapable of doing anything! And yet, without the backing of an education in psychology, what is an average PM to do? With so many different behaviors, expectations, and perspectives, a PM may be lost trying to navigate the world of…people. Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Minimize Scope & Requirements

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

Whether measured by schedule and budget, scope attainment, stakeholder expectation management, end user adoption, or market success, leading a project to a successful conclusion is challenging. What might be surprising to know is sometimes the challenges are self-inflicted, and one of the leading causes of self-inflicted project failure is attempting to do too much.

Read more of this post

Effective Methods of Risk Identification

Co-written with Brian McHugh

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
–President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

There are risks everywhere, whether they are called out and addressed or whether they are ignored. It is our job as consultants to make sure that we are mitigating risks, in Kennedy’s words, through action. We have found that the most critical and most difficult action in Risk Management is the cataloguing of risks. The challenge is to find effective ways to elicit risks from stakeholders. After all, you can’t manage risks if you don’t know what they are.  And while it may seem that the identification of risk should be the easiest part of the process, we find that stakeholders and project teams do not always understand the concept of “risk.” Sure, now you are thinking, “what are some effective ways of identifying risks?”  There are many methods for Risk Identification; here are some of the most effective. Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 4–Becoming a Project Leader vol 2

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

In this series on Project Leadership, I wrote about the principles of Project Leadership Part 1, and Part 2, and highlighted how these principles make for great Project Leaders. In my last post, Becoming a Project Leader vol 1, the third article in this Project Leadership series, I wrote about the key step in becoming a Project Leader is to be intentional about the little things that set the foundation for becoming a leader. In this article, I want to highlight the focus or attitude a Project Manager should have when becoming a leader.

“Focus on followership, not on leadership”
–“You are going to have to serve somebody” Bob Dylan

Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 3–Becoming a Project Leader vol 1

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
–Vince Lombardi

In the first two posts in this series on Project Leadership, Part 1 and Part 2, I define the principles of Project Leadership and highlighted how these principles make for great Project Leaders. In the next two posts in the series, I want to provide guidance for how good Project Managers can become great Project Leaders. But first, let’s recap the principles of leadership: Read more of this post

Simple Ways to Keep on Budget

Co-written with Edwin Gordon

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“Nothing is easier than spending the public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.”
–President Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States (1923–1929)

Unlike President Coolidge’s public money, a project budget does belong to somebody: the project manager. And while the temptation may still be there to bestow that budget on everything that comes across your project’s path, as the PM you must master the practices for managing the spend within your limits. Here are four proven practices that will help you define and manage your budget more effectively. Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 2

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

Welcome to the second in a four-part series on Project Leadership. The intent of the series to help evangelize the notion that individuals who find themselves in a Project Manager position have two choices they can make: they can either “manage” in Sisyphean fashion and push that stone uphill in attempt to hit on-time and on-budget, or they can “inspire” the team to produce something of value that they all can be proud of. Leaders pull people, managers push. As individuals, we naturally resist when pushed, yet we flow toward those things that pull us, such as Mexican food, beer, and greatness (maybe I shouldn’t be writing at dinner time).

In my last post, I introduced my first three principles of Project Leadership, and as a quick recap, those were: Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 1

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

When most people think of a leader, they tend to think of iconic figures from government, business, and sports…but, unfortunately, not Project Management (he says with tongue firmly in cheek). However, as the famous politician Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local,” implying that individuals really are only concerned with how laws and decisions impact themselves. And while most people do not interact on a daily basis with an elected official, a titan of industry, or a professional sports star, a lot of them likely do work with a Project Manager.

I’m sure you’ve witnessed the positive and negative impacts a Project Manager has made on the lives of individuals in the workplace (or at least you are familiar with this phenomenon from reading Dilbert). So the argument for strong Project Leadership is a simple one to make. That said, not all projects require a Project Leader. But I will presume that many of the beautiful and intelligent readers of this blog series either aspire to be Project Leaders or that you manage Project Managers who you want to step up to become Project leaders. Well, this blog is for you. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers

%d bloggers like this: