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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bad Meetings Don't Kill Projects . . . They're Just There for the Wakes

     I ran nothing but lousy meetings before I got into project management, and quite a few after I should have known better.
     Meetings too often are where good ideas go to die, or get loaded down with impediments. That’s a shame, because good meetings provide value that is so essential to organizations.
     Human beings cannot collaborate without meetings, gatherings with a purpose. Meetings work best face to face. When that is not possible, there is some value in virtual gatherings such as teleconferencing and online sharing.
     Meetings do not work well when they are poorly planned and poorly managed, which is most of the time. Serious organizational meeting malfunction is more prevalent than it should be – more prevalent, in my experience, than good meetings are.
     Actually, while awful meetings are so obviously a waste of time, money and talent, they are more symptom than cause. As projects go awry, poor meeting management is always in the mix somewhere.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Project Management: Words Matter

     We’ve all had a lot of fun considering whether Project Management is an art or a science. Or both. Or a business. A profession? Maybe it’s just a craft, or a trade. Or have we just gussied up plain garden-variety management to get attention?
     Well, words matter. So do vague and generalized perceptions.
     The current popularity of project management in the business community is a boon to those of us working in the field.
     The opportunity door has swung wide open because many executives and managers have come to believe that bringing in a project manager is the solution to functional and process tangles in their organizations.
     The boon part can deflate instantly, though, when the enthusiastic prospects hear about the specifics. Clear words dissipate illusions. Too often, project management runs sharp treads right across favorite habits and processes. One in particular, the perceived inviolability of executive/management authority, can take a serious hit.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Shining Project

Project management has certain characteristics when it is done well. Its best expression is in situations of extreme difficulty and daunting, complex human challenge.

Presented here is an editorial from the Portland (Maine) Press Herald that details extraordinary leadership by a middle school principal in achieving remarkable success in such a situation. The article misses not a single point of excellence in project management.

My thanks to Greg Kesich, Press Herald editorial page editor, for granting permission to reprint his piece.

There are a lot of fads and buzz words in education reform, but not many clear successes. One shining exception has been Portland’s King Middle School.

Located near some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, serving hundreds of English language learners and with more than half the student body qualifying for free or subsidized lunches, King has all the elements that are often used to explain low performance. But in spite of all that, it has been a nationally recognized success.