Join Us at Chelsea Piers for IPM Day Golf

Improve your project management skills and your handicap by joining us on November 1, 2012 at Chelsea Piers Golf Club for a four-hour training session packed with learning, networking and of course golf. Even if you are new to project management or the game of golf this is a great opportunity to acquire new tools and techniques to successfully keep score on your projects and hone your management skills.

Space is limited, so register today for the most enjoyable project management class around. Learn more and  Register now.

Conversation with Authors- Frank Ryle

The PMBOK® Guide contains a whopping 42 project steps. If that makes you feel a little overwhelmed, you are not alone. In this video, author Frank Ryle explains how his book, Keeping Score, makes project management a lot simpler.

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Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros

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Step inside the pages of Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros, where the worlds of golf and project management come together in a compelling and provocative way. From a board room in New Jersey to a golf course in Cork, Ireland, you will follow a trio of characters as they attempt to integrate three different PM perspectives into one inclusive, convergent approach.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the PMBOK® Guide

“The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.”

 I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams, would be over 30 years old today, a phenomenon born in London around the same time that the Project Management Institute (PMI) was created in a kitchen in Philadelphia. The four books in the Adams trilogy became so universally famous, that they were frequently shortened to simply, ‘The Guide.’

One wonders what Douglas Adams, or more interestingly, one of his amazing characters would make of the current version 4 of the PMBOK® Guide?

His terrific intellect, sharp sense of humour and strong science background allowed him, before his untimely death in 2001, to tackle a wide range of topics from a ‘universal’ perspective. Perhaps he would even have stretched all Project Management standards into areas beyond the reach of their contributors.

Adams had brilliant ideas about our physical universe, expounded by the twin headed ‘ Zaphod Beeblebrox’,  the nerdy ‘Ford Prefect,’ the amazing ‘Marvin the Paranoid Android,’ and several others. He helped many people, including the eminent scientist, Richard Dawkins, to make sense of this complex world and also to just simply enjoy the humor in his stories, as a way to get through a frustrating day.

He wrote in a time before Dilbert, The Simpsons and The Office – but his books and quotes are still as readable today as when he first created them. One of the most famous ideas from the original book is the answer given by ‘Deep Thought,’ the biggest computer in the universe, to the question – ‘What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?’ If you remember the book well, you would know that the answer was an illuminating – ‘42’.

Perhaps, as a project management community, we are finally coming close to the answer to our own universal question – “How do we get something big done in this complex world of ours?”

As many old timers reading this blog will know, the first PMBOK in 1996 had 37 steps and Version 2 in 2001 had 39 steps. Version 3 in 2005 increased the number of steps to 44 and now finally Version 4, 2009 has reduced the steps and appears to have aligned with the answer to ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’.

And so finally, our PMBOK® has 42 steps too.

Could there be a fellow hitchhiker deep inside the organization of the PMI? Or is it perhaps a belated coincidental example of the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive,’ that Adams used to power his ships across the galaxies.

Perhaps if we look deeper into the ‘tools and techniques’ sections of the individual  PMBOK® steps we will find a mirror to ‘the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster,’ a drink with the alcoholic equivalent to being mugged. It certainly could have uses in the HR area. Maybe we could also find something like ‘The Total Perspective Vortex,’ which humbled all great men except Zaphod himself. It would come in handy during the stakeholder analysis.

The ‘Point of View Gun,’ which does exactly what it says on the label might be useful during the ‘Collect Requirements’ step. Perhaps we should even copy the transient idea of renaming our elevators to ‘Happy Vertical People Transporters’. Altering our vocabulary would make a nice diversion if included in our bullet ridden, PowerPoint driven, status reports.

A ‘Crisis Inducer’ would certainly come in useful during the ‘Acquire the Team’ step, as would a ‘Thinking Cap’ (lemon powered), during the decision making part of the ‘Define the Scope’ step. And finally before I go absolutely crazy here, we should consider the use of ‘Vogon Poetry,’ or at least the threat to use it, as an acceptable form of torture in ‘Manage the Team,’ and ‘Manage the Stakeholders’ steps.

I hope that this article inspires you to read any of the 4 books in the Hitchhiker trilogy, or at the very least to look at our PMBOK® Version 4 in a new light.

Frank Ryle, PMP

Project Management as a Sport

Many people compare tennis to golf as competitive sports, but as John Feinstein points out in his excellent book A good walk spoiled, golf is the only game where neither the ball nor the target move, and so you have only yourself to blame for any errors. Professional golfers spend many hours on the practice range after playing golf trying to fix mechanical swing issues that can intermittently cause errors and regret. Rather like the words of the great Rudyard Kipling poem ‘If’ that greets all tennis players at Wimbledon:

“If you can meet both triumph and disaster”

“And treat those two imposters both the same.”

However research work by the psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman suggest that we do not treat those two imposters exactly the same. In fact, in many situations we are much more concerned with loss, regret and possibly disaster than gain – by a factor of 2.  In their research they demonstrate that we appear to require double the reward to offset the loss. In their lingo they say that we are loss averse and also by extension we are regret averse by a factor of 2 over opportunities for gain.

Project managers frequently have to deal with the issue of regret. In fact the whole process of PM from objective setting to the end of planning is designed to minimize the possibility of regret either during the project or after the closing. This research gives ammunition to those of us trying to move the focus of many IT projects from ‘Issues management’ to ‘risk management’.  If in fact their research is true, and Daniel Kahneman was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics for similar research, then we really should set aside time to identify, analyze and respond to big risks before any execution of any part of a project. While ‘diving in’ to execution may reveal some unexpected opportunities and gains, failure to do so may result in some nasty surprises and regrets. And we now know that they are not weighted the same.  Perhaps  Tversky and Kahneman have done no more than to reveal a truth in the old wives tale:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Keeping Score *Live* Webinar (!)

Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros (LIVE!)
This webinar will help you gain a better awareness of the basic steps on any project, improve your ability to communicate the process to all stakeholders and maybe even improve your golf swing in the process!
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