jim@millikenproject.com

jim@millikenproject.com 207-808-8878 Our book "Life is a Project: How are you managing?" is now available!


Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Default Fault

      On the foggy back side of the Comfort Zone, the population of defaulted projects grows by the day. Defaulted projects are the ghosts of those formerly promising intentions that slid backwards from their Project Plans into mediocrity or worse. Execution did ‘em in.
     So implementation is what matters? We should forget planning and just launch straight into action, right?
     Wrong.
     This whole issue of how to manage planning-execution is an essential matter in Project Management, and handling it successfully is a secret of project success.
     There is an apparent contradiction involved: As General Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” He endorsed the process, but was deeply suspicious of its product.
     Here’s what I think he meant: Plan as if every detail must be permanently nailed down in advance – then execute as if every element of the plan is wide open to amendment or reversal on the fly.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What Do You Mean, "Done?"


     What do you mean, “Done”?
     It’s obvious to you what “done” is. It’s also obvious to me.
     Problem One:
     Your “done” is different from mine.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Everybody's Got a Manager

     Danny Amendola just moved from a consistently winning team to an occasional also-ran, and he couldn’t be happier.
     Amendola was a star performer on a New England Patriots football team that won the league championship two years ago and made it to the Super Bowl again last year. Now he has just gone to the Miami Dolphins, winless in their three trips to the playoffs in the past decade.
      Amendola is a poster boy for the saying, “People don’t leave organizations – they leave managers.”
     This week, the Associated Press quoted him gushing about his new coach, Adam Gase:
     “It’s almost like Coach Gase is one of the guys, one of the boys and you wanna fight hard for your boys. Back in New England it’s almost like you got a principal and a principal’s office . . . you know, in a good way and in a bad way, too.”



Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Hardest Part of Project Management

     What’s the single most difficult thing about the project manager’s job?
     I know, I know: There are so many problems, especially the unpredictable ones, that it seems a worthless exercise to try isolating the single worst. Those devilish items take turns being the worst, often with head-spinning rapidity.

     The specifics can include, but most definitely are not limited to:

     Insufficient time
     Scope creep
     Fuzzy expectations
          . . . often unexpressed and/or unknown to those who have them
     Abrupt changes in organizational priorities
     Lack of assured project resources
     Team members who won’t make commitments
         . . . or won’t keep the commitments they’ve made
     Managers who block or limit team members’ participation
     Lack of insights from project end users

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Listen Up: Disengage Project Autopilot

     The guy had rehearsed his sales presentation thoroughly and was well into it when his prospect perked up and interrupted with a question.
     “Be patient,” the salesman said. “I’m only on my third point – I’ve got nine more to go.”
     Can you think of a better way to kill off a sale?
     A radically different example comes out of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
     It was in 1983, when the two bitter adversaries had enormous nuclear armaments trained on each other.  A software glitch mistakenly sent an alert to the Soviet duty officer, falsely warning that the U.S. had launched five missiles. There had been no such launch.
     The Soviet officer decided any real attack would be a lot more serious, so he withheld any counterattack. Had he acted, there could have been nuclear war.
     We project managers can relate to the student sales example; not so the missile one. But one factor in both illustrates a major point for us: the judgment of the decision-maker.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Ego, Confidence & the Manager

     The boss was a good-sized man, good-looking in a fleshy sort of way. Had an assertive way of looking at people around him, commanding his surroundings. A man to be paid attention to.

     But that manner exuded ego, not confidence. Here is a case in point:



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Management Power, Management Behavior

      
“You can’t run this place by committee.”
     That was the corporate president, responding to the manager of a division of the company.
     The manager, one month into his first job at this level, had just described how he had directed the department heads to prepare for him “blue sky” budget proposals. The idea was to include in early budget planning a look to the future – what the department manager envisioned as investments for growth over the succeeding few years.
     The president was not persuaded by the idea. The new division manager lost the job a few months later, returned to his previous position as a supervisor and soon left the company.
     A successor, more in the authoritative mold of the president, lasted a year before being flat-out fired. His peremptory style had resulted in unionization of every unit in the division.