jim@millikenproject.com

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Agile: The End of that Oldtime Project Management? Again? Nope. Again.

     Remember TQM?
     I do. Total Quality Management rose 20 years ago and fell a short time later. It was considered by some in the project management field, at the beginning, as the state-of-the-art successor to our ancient craft.
     TQM was the new wonder. Project Management, as we knew it, was out.
     I didn’t see it that way. I pegged TQM as embroidery on the working jeans of project management – a nice enhancement, but you still had to have the jeans.
     TQM was a perfectly respectable system, initially devised to improve management of quality in manufacturing processes. W. Edwards Deming developed the modern form in Japan after World War II, where he went as a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program helped Japan recover from the devastation of the war.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Managing Bad News


     I had botched it – badly. Unmistakably.
     An assignment had gone well, and it was obvious that organization could use further help.
     In an excess of enthusiasm, I immediately drew up and dispatched a proposal seeking the additional work. So far so good. Professional follow-up selling, right?
    Then came the dawn.
    This wasn’t my client.  It was my client’s client, and it was a big, important one for her. Not only had I overstepped a sacred boundary, but it was in a particularly delicate matter.
     The client’s decision-maker was a prickly and headstrong person, and my patroness had carefully cultivated the relationship. If he wasn’t offended by this aggressive sales pitch of mine, she certainly would be. My client had trusted in my professionalism, and I had blown it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Argument Builds Relationships

     This guy startled me.
     We had disagreed, and then I described in greater detail what I meant. He listened. Then he said, “You’re right. Now I see your point, and I agree.” I was really nonplussed. That had never happened to me before.
     I came from a large, very verbal family, and one thing we never did was give in on an argument. If the words didn’t work, even in waves of escalated volume and intensity, we tended to get physical. Growing into the larger world, and learning to keep it strictly verbal, I discovered that most people are not accustomed to debate as sport, or even as instructive.