Sunday, January 5, 2014

Musings from the end of last year

Happy new year folks! Hope every one had a great new year eve and has their resolutions/objectives in order for 2014. Some of our friends int he blogosphere did not take the holiday season off and continued to produce posts, some of which are rounded up here for you. There is also a post on personal Kanban to help you get those pesky resolutions taken care of.

Limit Your Holiday WIP With Personal Kanban
Summary -
Derek Huether, at The Critical Path, talks about applying Kanban to your personal life. He talks about it from the holidays perspective, when to-do lists get out of control, and also from a generic perspective of everyday tasks. Huether demonstrates how he effectively manages his tasks using color coded cards and columns with WIP limits. He also uses a focus column to make sure he knows which task has priority so that " Everything else can wait. I need to get this done!". His post made me try out Kanbana and in two days of trying it, I can already see myself getting things done.
Favourite Snippet -
"I’m a strange combination of a little OCD, a little ADHD, a lot of grit, and a lot of drive.  I need a focus column.  If I walk away from my desk, read an email, or get a cup of coffee, I can pretty much guaranteed to forget what I was working on."

Summary -
Intuit's "The Fast Track" blog has a couple of "geek out" posts by Carol Pinchefsky that bring project management and sci-fi geeks together. The first of these is lessons from sci-fi for project management. It covers movies and TV shows from Star Trek to Robocop to Batman Begins. here is the summary of lessons learnt, you will have to read the blog to figure out how Pinchefsky gets there - 

  • Star Trek - Challenge your assumptions about your project and think outside the box.
  • Robocop - Better projects can be born out of the ashes of failed ones.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Motivated employees become star performers.
  • Batman Begins - Don't be afraid to move the best and brightest off the project if they are not team players
  • Ghostbusters - Speculative ventures can be very fruitful, but dont expect all such ventures to succeed.

Favourite Snippet -

"Business is like a first wife: There’s always a newer, improved version in the future."

Summary -
Carol Pinchefsky follows up her post about positives from Sci-fi with horror stories that are lessons for what not to do as a Project/Product manager. This time around we have classics like 2001 : A Space Odyssey, Aliens and Star Wars included in the list of inspirations. So read this if you don't want to be like Darth Vader or HAL. Here are the lessons -

  • 2001 : A Space Odyssey - Don't give your team conflicting requirements.
  • Captain America - Poor documentation and knowledge concentrated with individuals is toxic.
  • Aliens - Listen to the concerns of "problem" employees and check in often.
  • Star Wars - If you use terror to lead, your team members wont give their best.
  • Prometheus - Build your team with the right type of players.

Favourite Snippet -

"Guess whose job it is to facilitate the communication and make sure the requirements are aligned? Yup, that’s why they pay you."

Summary -
Peter Brodzinski on his Software Project Management blog, ended the year talking about value and what value truly means. He asks the very relevant question of how do we define value? He argues that value for the client is not the only answer, there has to be some reciprocity. Brodzinski points out that, the software vendor, the client and the users should all be a part of the value equation and this equation should be balanced. The decision of which metrics or value points to put emphasis on is very contextual and driven by many factors, and of course, these factors force us to make choices on what we value.
Favourite Snippet -
"Only if you are able to tell which factors are important in a given context you can come up with reasonable measures of value."