The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

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Episode 348: A Project Success System (Premium)

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Ron Black
Ron Black

If you have listened to our previous interview with Ron Black (www.linkedin.com/in/ronblack), then you know that all of us are superheroes and that we need a plan. And of course - in the comic books - superheroes always win. But they can only win if they succeed. For us this means of course that we must focus on achieving project success.

Ron Black says that successful project management depends on us project leaders doing things right and knowing our project success factors.

And one of the chapters in his book Leadership - The Everyday Superhero's Action Guide to Plan and Deliver High-Stakes Projects talks about a success system for us project leaders. So in this interview we look at why high-visibility projects get more attention and discuss many project success criteria.

We do this once again by reviewing the "Super Power Points" that he offers at the end of each chapter to summarize the message.

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Episode 347: Every Project Leader Needs a Project Plan (Free)

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Ron Black
Ron Black

This interview with Ron Black (www.linkedin.com/in/ronblack) is based on chapters two and three of his new book Leadership - The Everyday Superhero's Action Guide to Plan and Deliver High-Stakes Projects. Here is how Ron introduces the need for a project plan:

You're going to need a plan. No matter how urgent the moment may appear—stopping killer comet collisions, derailing evil tyrants from world domination, or dashing through security, grabbing a latte, and boarding your 5:31 AM flight in time to stow your roll-aboard in the last available space—you'll be more successful, more of the time, if you have a plan.

Leadership by Ron Black

In our discussion, Ron and I will focus on introducing you to his "Super Power Points". These are poignant one-liners (i.e. "To finish faster, start a little slower") that he offers at the end of each chapter to summarize the message.

We review each of the 15 points from the opening chapters and Ron gives us his insights and recommendations that show why even the best project leader needs a plan.

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Episode 346: Weight Loss For Risky Projects (Free)

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David Hillson
Cornelius Fichtner and Dr. David Hillson
(We're pointing at Disneyworld on the map)

This interview with Dr. David Hillson was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Weight Loss For Risky Projects". Here is the paper's definition of Risk Obesity:

“Risk obesity” occurs when there is too much risk in the system, resulting from uncontrolled risk appetite (Hillson, 2014). This can affect the business as a whole if strategic risk-taking decisions by the senior management team lead to risk exposure that is greater than the organization can manage. But risk obesity can also occur at the project level, when a particular project is carrying levels of risk that are too high, posing a significant threat to the project’s success.

Each of the characteristics of physical obesity has parallels in risk obesity, where we accumulate excessive risk exposure that threatens the ongoing health of our project, and that may ultimately be terminal. Risk obesity also makes other risk ailments more likely, as high levels of risk exposure challenge the ability of our risk management processes to cope.

The main cause of risk obesity is an uncontrolled or inappropriate risk appetite (Hillson and Murray-Webster, 2012), leading us to take on too much risk without the ability to digest it and deal with it effectively. It is also possible in some cases that there is a built-in tendency to risk obesity arising from the “organizational DNA,” with a corporate ethos and culture that lead to excessive risk-taking.

The good news for projects suffering from risk obesity is that it is both treatable and preventable. This paper provides clear diagnostic symptoms to determine whether a project is risk obese, as well as proven treatment options.

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Episode 345: My Project is Failing, It is Not My Fault (Free)

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Peter Monkhouse
Cornelius Fichtner and Peter Monkhouse

This interview with Peter Monkhouse was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "My Project is Failing, It is Not My Fault". Here is the paper's abstract:

Projects fail. This is not new; projects having been failing for years. Studies have been done on why projects fail. The Project Management Institute (PMI) reported in the Pulse of the Profession® (2013a) that poor communication is the number one reason why projects fail. In fact, PMI states that poor communications is a contributing factor in 56% of the projects that failed.

But is this the fault of the project manager? A good project manager follows the appropriate methodology for the project, including using a variety of communication tools. But it is not just the method of communication that matters, it is the also the content of the communication that is important. The project manager needs to communicate with the project sponsor and stakeholders in the language of the business. The project manager needs to take the project data and convert it into business information that is actionable for the project sponsor and key stakeholders.

To do this, there are two tools the project manager can use. The first is to determine how the product or service of the project supports the organizational strategy. Knowing how the project supports the strategy of the organization will provide the language of why it is important for the project sponsor to support the project.

The second tool is the business model canvas which uses nine building blocks to describe how the strategy of the organization is implemented through organizational structures, processes, and systems. Knowing which block the project impacts will provide the project manager with the context to describe the project in the language of the business.

A project manager that speaks the language of the business will communicate more effectively with the project sponsor and project stakeholders, and improve the chances of the project meeting its objectives.

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Episode 344: Get a 25% Discount on ALL Neal Whitten eLearning Courses

To get you started on the right foot for 2016 we are offering an exclusive arrangement with Neal Whitten: All PM Podcast listeners who use the coupon code "pmpodcast" when purchasing a Neal Whitten eLearning Course from Velociteach will receive a 25% discount.

How to order and get your discount:

Offer Valid from January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016

This includes the course "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance" which is the basis for our interview with Neal in episode 344. Here is what Neal has to say about that particular course:

The session I conducted at the PMI 2015 North American Congress was called: Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance. It was one of the most popular sessions with over 250 people attending—of which only five hands were raised indicating that they were satisfied with their work-life balance. That’s about two percent. Of course, these folks selected this session because of their current dissatisfaction with their work-life balance.

The session was based on a new eLearning course (2.5 PDUs) I developed in partnership with Velociteach, a bellwether project management training company. The course is the same name as the session. Here is a description of the eLearning course:

Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance (2.5 PDUs)

If you have difficulty in juggling the demands of your job and your non-work life, you’re not alone. Many people feel like their lives are overcommitted and see no relief in sight. Nowadays work-life balance can seem like an unrealistic objective and can seem more elusive than ever. I have personally wrestled with my own work-life balance issues for most of my adult life but—as a senior-aged person—I have learned a massive amount of knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom, about the highly important subject of finding a satisfactory harmony across all aspects of life. I have also read the research and musings from many valuable contributors that have opened my eyes even wider on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. My mission here is to sift through the data and present to you meaningful information that can help you not only better understand your work-life balance but to give you ideas that can help you achieve the integration that is most important to you.

Listeners of The PM Podcast receive a 25 percent discount on all my eLearning courses (there are ten as of right now) by simply using the coupon code “pmpodcast” when they purchase a course through Velociteach.

Episode 344: Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance (Free)

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Neal Whitten
Cornelius Fichtner and Neal Whitten

This interview with Neal Whitten was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance". Here is the paper's abstract:

If you have difficulty in juggling the demands of your job and your non-work life, you’re not alone. Many people feel like their lives are overcommitted and see no relief in sight. Nowadays, work-life balance can seem like an unrealistic objective and can seem more elusive than ever.

I have personally wrestled with my own work-life balance issues for most of my adult life, but—as a senior-aged person—I have learned a massive amount of knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom, about the highly important subject of finding a satisfactory harmony across all aspects of life. I have also read the research and musings from many valuable contributors that have opened my eyes even wider on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. My mission here is to sift through the data and present to you meaningful information that can help you to not only better understand your work-life balance, but can also give you ideas that can help you to achieve the integration that is most important to you.

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Episode 344: Power Snippets

Click here to download the Power Snippets PDF Document...

This PDF Document is the first of two handouts that Neal gave to the attendees of his session "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance" at the PMI Global Congress 2015 in Orlando FL.

The document is also part of a Neal Whitten eLearning course called "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance" and was developed by Neal Whitten in partnership with Velociteach.

Episode 343: Managing Virtual Teams (Free)

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Jesse Fewell
Cornelius Fichtner and Jesse Fewell

This interview with Jesse Fewell was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Can You Hear Me Now? Working with Global, Distributed, Virtual Teams". Here is the paper's abstract:

Today's work world has changed radically. Whether video chatting with China or taking a call at from home, more and more professional work is no longer in person. It can be frustrating, but a deeper look reveals some surprises: Everyone is doing it, and not just for costs; many organizations are thriving with it. Most pain points have simple work-arounds. This paper will walk you through tips and benefits for working with people outside your office.

With the rise of the Internet, emerging economies, and the trend of working from home, today’s professionals are dealing with a workplace that is very different from anything the world has ever seen. Never before in the history of mankind have we been able to conduct so much work, so quickly, with so many people outside our own location.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. We struggle with time zone issues, language barriers, limited visibility, poor infrastructure, and so on and so on. Sometimes we choose remote teams intentionally for their benefits. But often, this kind of organizational structure is handed to managers and team members without choice.

This paper is about how to deal with all those issues and strengthen your teams.

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Episode 342: Organizational Innovation is Driven by Business Analysis (Free)

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Elizabeth Larson
Cornelius Fichtner and Elizabeth Larson

This interview with Elizabeth Larson was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss her paper and presentation "I Don’t Have Time to Innovate: I’m Too Busy Doing Business Analysis" (Co-written with Richard Larson). Here is the paper's abstract:

Everyone seems to be talking about the importance of organizational innovation, as well as what it means for practitioners of business analysis. Are business analysis and innovation even compatible? This paper answers this question affirmatively: yes, they are. But what is innovation and how can business analysis practitioners help organizations innovate? Innovation may include process improvement as some have suggested. It also may include doing root cause analysis to identify problems and then finding solutions to those problems as others have claimed. And it can certainly include doing projects agilely, changing the features of the product being built as needs become known.

However, although each of these is an important factor in developing creative solutions, each by itself is probably not enough. Innovation requires us not only to spot all manner of opportunities, but also to use our influencing skills to convince the organization to seize them.

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Episode 341: The Business Analysis Practitioner as Entrepreneur (Free)

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Richard Larson
Cornelius Fichtner and Richard Larson

This interview with Richard Larson was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Entrepreneurial Business Analysis Practitioner" (Co-written with Elizabeth Larson). Here is the paper's introduction:

Given both authors are entrepreneurs and have done extensive business analysis work, it seems logical for us to write about this topic. But, why bother? What possibly could be relevant about entrepreneurialism for a business analyst or project manager? For starters, entrepreneurship is an increasingly attractive career option within an organization and as a start-up, and is more and more viable with each passing year. Even if we are not interested in forming a start-up, the principles of entrepreneurship are becoming increasingly important for organizations to innovate and stay competitive.

In this paper, we will explore several aspects of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs and what it means for business analysis. Our firm belief is that by adopting a more entrepreneurial way of working, practitioners will be more effective and organizations will benefit.

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Episode 340: Project Manager Skills are Essential for Business Success (Free)

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Jack Ferraro
Cornelius Fichtner and Frank Saladis

This interview with Frank Saladis was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "The Indispensable Project Manager". Here is the paper's abstract:

Managing projects effectively has become essential in every organization large or small. The uncertainties of the world business economy, rapidly changing technology, and the intensifying focus on sustainability has driven many organizations to develop specific methods for managing projects and to seek highly qualified people to manage those projects.

These qualifications include the ability lead as well as to manage and create an environment of change readiness, attention to quality, and an awareness that self-development is a critical factor for success at both the personal and organizational level.

Today’s project managers must adapt to change, lead diverse teams, act as ambassadors for their organizations, and deal with a multitude of challenging project stakeholders. They must also continually enhance their knowledge about business, working with people, and how to maintain a reputation of professionalism, thought leadership, and ability to add value.

This paper addresses the importance of the professional project manager to any organization, and the need for the project manager to continually enhance existing skills, adapt to a changing business environment, and become a “go to” person in the organization. Emphasis is placed on understanding the needs of the organization, clearly and visibly creating value, and managing personal brand.

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Episode 339: Change Management Strategy: A Practical Approach (Free)

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Jack Ferraro
Cornelius Fichtner and Jack Ferraro

This interview with Jack Ferraro was recorded at the 2015 PMI Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Measure Twice, Change Once: Practical Strategies for Change Management". Here is the paper's abstract:

Sound change management processes and behaviors link strategy and execution teams. They enable portfolio managers, executive leadership, and program and project teams to increase their organization’s ability to react effectively to change.

This paper presents a comprehensive approach to making an organization more responsive to change by means of effective structuring, planning, and measuring of change management across portfolios, programs and projects. It explores the role of change management in portfolio management and how to structure an organization for successful change. It discusses the value of measuring change management and how to best do so before, during, and after the change process.

With effective structuring, planning, and measuring of change management efforts, organizations can achieve effective change when challenged by resource constraints and conflicting executive priorities.

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