My Top 20 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2014

Well, it’s the time of the year when I evaluate my blog in preparation for the coming year. I want to make sure that I understand your topics of interest.

Thank you for a great year! I had more than 20,000 visitors this year. For some bloggers, this number is small. For me, I am amazed that this many people from all over the world visit my site. Visitors spent on average four and one-half minutes per visit.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

The top countries included:
• The United States (8,102)
• India (1,446)
• Canada (1,197)
• The United Kingdom (1,137)

The top organizations were cable and communications companies.

Here are my top 20 blog posts and my observations:
1. Evaluating Risks Using Qualitative Risk Analysis (updated 1/27/15)
2. Evaluating Risks Using Quantitative Risk Analysis (8/3/14)
3. How to Determine Project Budget Reserves (2/14/14)Continue reading

What I Learned About Risk Management from a Christmas Tree

My family has a tradition of going to a Christmas tree farm, selecting a tree, bringing it home, setting it up and decorating. This year was a disaster…here’s my story (please don’t tell anyone) and the risk mitigation strategies I learned.

Hobson wanted a selfie at the Christmas tree farm.

Hobson wanted a selfie at the Christmas tree farm.

Normally, we get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Not this year. We waited until the second weekend of December to make our tree trek. My wife Sherri and I took our dog Hobson with us (our son and daughter now live out of town). There were very few trees left.

We finally found one that didn’t look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The trunk looked straight, and the tree looked fine (no gaping holes if you looked from the right side). I cut the tree. The tree farm owner shook the needles out, wrapped the tree in a net, and helped me tie the tree on top of our car.Continue reading

7 Reasons People Are Cynical About Goals (and How to Move On)

When I bring up the topic of setting goals, I typically get two responses. Some individuals are excited and want to learn more. Other people trip over themselves running for the Exit doors.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com (edited with Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com (edited with Canva)

Most people have set goals and new year resolutions at some time in their life and have had varying degrees of success…and a lot of failures. Perhaps you’ve set goals such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Getting a new job
  • Starting a new business
  • Getting out of debt
  • Achieving business goals
  • Improving relationships
  • Winning a sports season
  • Learning a musical instrument

We’ve all heard how goals can help us. Why is it that goals work for some people and do not for other people? Why are people skeptical about goals? I believe most of the resistance is rooted in faulty thinking about goals.Continue reading

Four Meeting Problems – Which Ones Do You Want to Overcome?

Friends, have you experienced any poorly run meetings lately? Although meetings are a fundamental tool for managing projects, many meetings fail to achieve results.

Let’s look at four common meeting problems: unclear purpose, topic hopping, indecision, and unclear direction.

Why Are We Here Concept

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

1. Unclear Purpose. Far too often, people attend meetings with no idea of why the meeting was called. You can bet the meeting will wander aimlessly without clear objectives.

The meeting facilitator should specify the purpose in the agenda. For example: “To select requirements from the backlog for the next sprint.”

Start your meetings by stating the purpose of the meeting. For example: “The purpose of this meeting is to select requirements from the backlog for the next sprint.” Then review the agenda topics and ground rules. Ask if there are any questions or any additional agenda items.

These steps help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands the purpose, topics, and desired conduct.Continue reading

How to Triage Software Requirements Simply

Have you ever felt tension between the business community and Information Technology in a software requirements session?

The users rattle off requirements like a Gatling gun. Developers want to meet the user’s needs but realize they don’t possess magical powers.

At the same time, the sponsor has set a demanding project deadline.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com.

Demand exceeds supply. It’s like trying to put 24 ounces of fluid in a 12 ounce coke bottle…you just can’t violate the laws of nature, no matter how hard you try.

Tough decisions must be made. How will the team prioritize the requirements?

Many teams rely on the old fashion process of rating the requirements with the vague and undefined categories of High, Medium, and Low. Over time, users often develop a bad habit of rating more and more requirements as High. The developers push back. It can turn into a fist fight.

The Simple Meaning of MoSCoW

Allow me to introduce you to another prioritization method which can be used for traditional as well as agile projects. It’s called the MoSCoW Prioritization. The upper case letters stand for:Continue reading

How to Cash In on Project Opportunities

Some project managers have a defensive mindset…they primarily focus on threats. It’s time to achieve more by thinking differently.

Opportunities abound. They are all around us.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Consider these day-to-day opportunities in our personal lives.

Your favorite clothing retailer is advertising a 30% discount on a new suit you been eyeing.

Starbucks is offering Pumpkin Spice Latte for a brief season. “Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Creamy milk and pumpkin pie spices. Your PSL is waiting for you.”

Your company is offering free flu shots for the next two weeks…I’ll take the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

What project opportunities are within your reach? What unique set of variables provide you with a chance for improving your schedule, budget, and quality? How can you convert uncertain opportunities into a realized benefits?

Fuzzy Opportunity

Many individuals have fuzzy notions about opportunities. We cannot leverage its power until we understand it. Let’s look closer with a magnifying glass.

The PMBOK defines risk as “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality.”

Furthermore, the PMBOK defines an opportunity as “a risk that would have a positive effect on one or more project objectives.” Therefore, negative risks are considered to be threats and positive risks are opportunities.

The Family Feud

I am a member of some project management LinkedIn Groups that have had heated debates concerning whether an opportunity is a risk ad nauseam. Some people define risks as strictly a negative event or condition. I understand their perspective.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines risk as “the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as injury or a loss) will happen.”

Once a project manager says they do not consider opportunities as risks, and then many of these individuals excuse themselves from the hunt for opportunities.

Don’t fall into this trap. Define [risk] and determine how you will identify and manage both threats and opportunities. Include your definitions and processes in your risk management plan.Continue reading

10 More Simple Ways to Thank Your Team

A few months ago, I posted an article entitled “10 Simple Ways to Thank Your Team.” Based on the response, I would say the article struck a cord with many people. Let’s look at additional ways to recognize and reward your team members and why a simple thank you is so powerful.

RecognitionBoard

Award Recognition Board

“The first job of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” -Max de Pree

Give Your Team Members the Greatest Gift

I had a great boss and mentor years ago. He not only provided constructive criticism, but he had a great habit of saying thanks.

I remember times when I completed a challenging project. During a one-on-one meeting, my boss would look me in the eye, rehearse the project’s chronology, highlight the challenges, finally…with a pause…he would say, “You did a great job. Thank you for your hard work.”

He would stand, shake my hand, and say, “Congratulations. Why don’t you take off the rest of today.”

My wife would hear me say over and over, “I love my job.” Money was important (I had to feed the family and pay the mortgage), but the greatest reward was the gift of appreciation.Continue reading

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