November 21, 2013, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Humans have a remarkable capacity for self-delusion. We can go weeks, months, sometimes even years convincing ourselves that everything is fine, and that one last push will get it all done. Until that late night pouring over the status report you have to present the next day -- the one that clearly proves we've been overseeing our project from a parallel universe. Now what?
As you might expect, we have a few ideas. We also have lots of great tools and examples you can use for managing all those nagging end-of-the-year projects that are soaking up your time -- personal and professional. Plus, blogger Mike Aucoin fills in for Alan this month, with some negotiation techniques you can't afford to refuse.
There is often no "referee" to call a penalty when a negotiator engages in poor behavior. Entering the negotiation arena also means taking on the responsibility of a referee. As part of the mini-series on negotiation, we will identify ways to deal with the unethical, conniving and no good so-and-sos that you may encounter in negotiations.
By Mike Aucoin
To start, let us identify four categories of undesirable negotiation behavior. While understanding that there may well be considerable overlap among the categories, these characterizations help to illuminate distinctions. All are attempts by an actor to increase power.
In a guest column this week, Mike Aucoin offers concrete suggestions for dealing with difficult negotiators »
Premium How-To Course
Trying Out Agile, Step by Step
Presented by Kent McDonald, Knowledge Bridge Partners
In this mini-course, Kent McDonald discusses tips and provides advice for introducing agile methodologies in your organization. Kent walks you through a detailed checklist, which will help you decide which project to try it on, which team to involve, and how to give your team the best chance for success. 1 PDU
Learn more »
Cinda is back this week having more fun with her Musings blog, the place we've made for her to share thoughts, questions, ahas, encouragement, good books, funny stories, or even rants, without worrying about a full-length 5-steps-to-whatever traditional article. Sometimes there's a lesson-learned to share. Sometimes a quick tip to share. Sometimes the urge to save others from a specific project mishap. Those are just a few examples of what she intends to use the space for. Check it out! (and feel free to react, respond, refute, commiserate or contribute in kind...)
Following our guts and taking a stand - How I finally suffered enough to never again let lack of authority make me cave on something the project team NEEDS TO DO.
Beware this insidious downside of weekly team meetings - Fresh off several projects with the usual resource shortages, here are some observations on how team meetings can slow teams down in ways we don't even recognize. Don't let these phenomena take over how your team works together to move a project forward week by week.
Trust - it makes everything so much better (including project decision-making) - On why we'll never solve our tough project problems (at least more easily and pleasantly) until we build some TRUST.
Fixing a Broken Project
Rescuing and Revitalizing the Problem Project – MEMBER
Step 1: get your panicked project team to stop and take a deep breath. Step 2: analyze what has gone wrong and how to get it right again. Step 3: re-launch your disaster project with new, actually attainable goals.
Problem-Solving Tools and Techniques – PREMIUM
Six different problem-solving tools help you do everything from determining root causes to assessing possible solutions, and outline a basic problem-solving strategy so you can be sure you've covered all the bases.
Partner Contract Guidelines – PREMIUM
If your project relies on outside partners, contract language is critical for defining expectations, due dates, and responsibilities. This template provides guidelines for typical contents you should consider. (As always, consult a qualified legal professional for your final language.)
Want some more suggestions? Check out our resources for conflict and issue management.
Managing Small Projects
Project Plan Example - Small Project – PREMIUM
As this example shows, project plans come in all shapes and sizes. That includes light and practical "just enough" documentation, like this example from one company's methodology project.
Adapting PM Techniques and Templates to a Mini-Project – MEMBER
Need an example that's even smaller and more informal? This case study elaborates on how one of our non-PMs applied various PM techniques and tools to her family vacation. It's a fun take on what project management looks like when applied to something most people wouldn't even think of as a project, and proof that it really can be done without going overboard.
WBS Example: Planning a Holiday Dinner – MEMBER
Still too big? Try this tongue-in-cheek example of applying project management to a product development with a small team -- by scheduling a holiday dinner with everything ready at the same time. (Bonus: Check out Geof Lory's classic column on convinced his wife that project management was worth the time.)
Managing Multiple Projects
Planning and Managing Multiple Small Projects – PREMIUM
Do you have a million nagging things to finish before the end of the year? It could be a collection of barely-related items that need to be closed out before the end of the fiscal year, or a billion holiday-related projects that have to be finished before you can kick back. Sometimes, it's easiest to manage things that as a sort of mini-portfolio. This file provides a compendium of techniques for managing a group of small related projects.
Project Budgets – PREMIUM
Make sure you don't overspend your budget by planning and tracking for all the expenses that aren't in your direct line of site. These spreadsheet formats help you document projected costs and handle high-level cost tracking without going full-on bean counter. (Unless that's your thing, of course. If it is, we have you covered there too.)
Scored and Ranked Project List – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until December 5, 2013
Not sure which of your million-and-one projects should be finished first? Use this simple spreadsheet to help you find out which are really the most important. (As distinguished from the ones that seem or feel most important.)
Carl Pritchard is planning ahead for his April 2014 PDU cruise (PDF). Remember, to sell the boss, start in Omaha.
Kimberly Wiefling is in Japan for much of the rest of the year, but you can get a dose of Kimberly and her Scrappy Project Management wisdom in Kindle or old-fashioned paperback versions.
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
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