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Sunday, 15 June 2008 19:06

Dramatization - Do Not Attempt

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Today, a TV program I watched was interrupted by a commercial. It showed a woman sitting on a chair holding a $5 bill in her hands. She then stuck that note into her mouth an began eating it. At that moment, the words "Dramatization. Do not attempt." popped up at the bottom of the screen. While I find this to be a hilarious result of the litigious culture here in the US it also got me thinking about project management. There are so many great books and methodologies available to us project managers, but somehow, the best practices that are described don't make it into most of our daily lives? Why is that?

Because they seem to have the label "Dramatization. Do not attempt." attached to them. And when we read about them we feel that they sound nice in theory, but that they will never work in real life. So we ignore them. It is as if someone had attached the "Do not attempts" label to them. Here are the top 3 best practices that many PMs don't attempt.

Earned Value Project Management. EV has to be at the top of the list of all the things that we project managers don't do. EV promises to not only keep our projects on track but give us the tools to guide them. For instance, Quentin Fleming ("Mr. Earned Value") discussed "Simple EV" on the podcast with me. He told me that almost all PMs fail on step 1 of Simple EV. And step one is so basic that it is incredible that we fail. Here it is: "You must define the scope (objectives and deliverables) of the project."

Project Risk Management. When was the last time you looked at the risks on your project? Done right, project risk management will ensure that you don't get blindsided. But the pressure of doing things below cost and before it's due date will make you cut it out. My tip: List the top 3-5 project risks on the agenda of your weekly team meeting and discuss them every week for a few moments with the complete team. Keep the risks in plain sight.

Single Tasking. We all know that multi tasking is bad. We all understand that jumping between tasks will break our train of thought and cost us a lot of energy to get back into things. Allan Elder makes a fantastic case against multi tasking in his presentations on Critical Chain. We listen. We say "wow". We do not attempt. Instead, every time someone shows up at our desk we will happily interrupt what we are doing. It might have something to do with what Neal Whitten says: project managers are too soft.

So why is it that we PMs have all these great best practices at our disposal, but somehow we don't attempt them? Any ideas? 

By the way: I am guilty of all three myself.

Read 15914 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 December 2009 21:18

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a Project manager, PMP trainer, host of The PM Podcast, creator of the PM Prepcast, PDUCast, public speaker and gummi bear addict.

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