Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Anti-PMBOXidant

Look at (almost) any beverage label these days, or walk down the vitamin aisle of your pharmacy (chemist), and you’ll see it – “Contains Powerful Antioxidants”. What are these? Antioxidants help to fight and eliminate free radicals (oxidants) in our bodies. Free radicals are considered a major component in aging and disease progression. Research has shown that rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, and even certain types of cancer are the direct result of free radical damage in the body.

OKaaaay, Rich, you’re saying, so what does this have to do with Project Management? Well, I just finished Kimberly Wiefling’s “Scrappy Project Management”, a skinny (and scrappy), but powerful book, and the way I see it, it’s the anti-PMBOK® Guide, or perhaps, at least for the sake of this posting, the Anti-PMBOXidant. Please note that I have nothing against the PMBOK Guide – in fact I was honored to work on the 4th Edition recently as an editor – but to bring its concepts home, you need a supplement, something to ground it in hard-fought, real-world, teeth-gnashing, stomp-out-of-the-room, knee-deep-in-dirt actual projects. Since I consider the PMBOK guide to have the solid foundation in theory and a to be a good tour of PM’s body of knowledge, but not a how-to book, I’m always on the lookout for the “anti-PMBOK”. Not something that opposes or contradicts the PMBOK Guide, but rather something which connects it to your PM life.

Scrappy Project Management does that. In fact, starting in September, I will be using the unlikely combination of the PMBOK Guide and Scrappy PM for my Essentials of PM course at my local community college. The free radicals will be together with the antioxidants. Sounds like college from the 60's!

Kimberly’s approach is very earthy (what do you expect when you “ground” something), yet she’s peppered it with lofty quotes from people like Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, and has done her research to back up her bold, brash banter. It’s loaded with tips and tricks, many of which concur with advice I’ve been giving out as well, so we seem to be on a similar wavelength. For example, we have both been preaching the idea of writing certain emails but not sending them, if they contain (and I quote) “emotional vomit”. The idea of writing the email to get out the emotion – and then deleting it rather than sending it - is one I have suggested for my peers and students for many years. I just never described the contents as – ahem – colorfully as Kimberly.

I found great value in the Scrappy Project Management Checklist, which also serves as the chapters of the book:

--Be completely & unrepentantly obsessed with the “Customer”.
--Prioritize ruthlessly, choosing between heart, lungs & kidneys if necessary.
--Provide shared, measurable, challenging, & achievable Goals as clear as sunlight.
--Create viable Plans & Schedules that enjoy the team’s hearty commitment.
--Explicitly identify and plan to mitigate detestable Risks & delectable Accelerators.
--Assure that Roles & Responsibilities are unmistakably understood and agreed by all.
--Challenge Assumptions & Beliefs, especially insidious self-imposed limitations.
--Manage the Expectations of all stakeholders: under-promise & over-deliver.
--Anticipate and accommodate necessary and inevitable Change.
--Engage in effective, vociferous & unrelenting Communication with all stakeholders.
--Practice an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Celebrate success, and some failures, too.
--Learn from experience. Make new and more exciting mistakes next time!

People seem to like Kimberly’s book: there are 22 reviews on Amazon, and the average rating is 5 (out of 5). Granted, one of the reviewers is indeed the author, but to me, that’s just another illustration of scrappiness.

So, if your diet could use some Anti-PMBOXidants, have a look at Scrappy Project Management .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for the review. Sounds like Scrappy Project Management would be a worthwhile read. It's on my list for my next trip to the bookstore.

One example to support your advice to write and not send certain emotionally laden emails. I remember on one assignment I witnessed a functional manager let loose an incredibly aggressive, blame-filled and vitriolic attack on a fellow PM. Tho odd thing was that these two had been more or less friendly with each other prior to this. The PM was extremely upset and disturbed by this, and, a few days later, got up the courage to confront the functional manager. Evidently he had sent the email in a fit of rage at a completely different situation, and completely "forgot" that he had sent the message to the PM.

Needless to say it took more than a little time for that friendship to be repaired.


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