Vicky Stamatopoulou on 20. August 2010
The last 3 days we have had our regular team meeting. It was very productive, enlightening and fun for yet again another time. Infrastructure worked, people were willing to share information and did so in a comprensible way, ideas came up, decisions were made and our team culture grew.
So being back and retrospecting the past few days I am considering the lessons learned from this last trip:
Dave Prior on 10. August 2010
Those who triumph,
Compute at their headquarters
A great number of factors prior to a challenge
He goes on to explain that those who spend less time planning do not succeed. According to Sun Tzu, more planning = greater success, less = greater chance of failure and no planning at all pretty much guarantees you have no shot.
The first chapter of the Art of War ends with Sun Tzu claiming that by observing the time spent in “computation” he can determine whether or not one will succeed in their efforts.
From a PM’s standpoint, this has relevance on a number of levels. The most obvious application would be to the idea of actually planning out a project, and if you follow the rest of the lessons of the Art of War, this is going to end up bringing in many of the elements included in a traditional project plan. Things like risk planning and developing a communication strategy are critical aspects of Sun Tzu’s formula for success. (more…)
Dave Prior on 5. August 2010
Next week I’ll be co-presenting at the Agile 2010 conference in Orlando, Florida with Thushara Wijewardena. Our presentation is called “Why you suck at off shoring, even with Agile”. The plan is to discuss and debate some of the issues people run into when they are doing offshore projects. Thushara, who lives in Sri Lanka, will be covering the offshore side and I’ll be handling onshore. We’ve both got a fair bit of experience in the area, but in order to make sure we’d covered all our bases, we interviewed a number of people to get their take on it. Heading into it, I felt pretty confident, based on my experience, that the majority of the difficulties that onshore managers and teams struggle with are brought about by their own approach and an assumption that offshore must learn to adapt to the onshore way of working. My basic argument was that the onshore teams really had to find a better way to adapt how they approached working with an offshore team if they really wanted to get the most out of them. Working with teams spread across the globe, in different time zones, from different cultural and educational backgrounds is never easy, but I do believe that the responsibility for enabling the offshore team falls largely on the onshore team’s shoulders. (more…)
Frank Blome on 5. August 2010
The new version 1.1 of Merlin iPhone comes with support for iPhone 4 and iPad. The handling of the mobile Merlin does not change, it’s still the same ease of use. The new version is optimized for the Retina Display of the iPhone 4 and the bigger iPad display.
Merlin iPhone can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Strore. With the new update Merlin iPhone supports all versions of iPhone, iPad touch and iPad. More information about Merlin iPhone can be found on our website in the “Products” section.
Frank Blome on 29. July 2010
Today we published another maintenance update for Merlin and Merlin Server. Here are the changes.
Resolved Issues in Merlin
Resolved Issues in Merlin Server
Dave Prior on 28. July 2010
The next section of Chapter 1 starts by introducing one of the core strategies of Sun Tzu’s teaching. In The Art of Strategy by R.L. Wing, the section is translated as:
Heed me by calculating the advantages
reinforce them by directing outwardly.
This has a very direct relationship to the strategic work a PM does in that it calls upon the practitioner to measure and understand their true position and then “reinforce” (read as spin or manipulate) the perception of that position by how you represent it.
As he moves into the next section, Sun Tzu provides more clarity into how the perceived reality can be manipulated:
Thus, when able, they appear unable.
When employed, they appear useless. (more…)
Dave Prior on 23. July 2010
Having defined that which is to be measured, Sun Tzu provides examples of things to be considered when examining the five measures. He recommends determining which leader has captured the cultural mindset:
Has the Way?
And, which has the poitical and organizational advantage:
Which side has
Heaven and Earth?
Who has the strength and rigorous enough approach to discipline to follow the processes they have defined as their path to success.
On which side
Is the stronger?
According to Sun Tzu, understanding these will help you “know” victory and defeat. This is an important point to spend some time on. The idea is not that if you study these things, you’ll win; but that if you study these things, you will be able to foresee who will win… which leads to a principle introduced later that is (simplified) never take on a battle you have not already won.
Following this thought, if you stick with Sun Tzu, follow his rules, he promises to lead you to victory. If you follow his guidelines, the Art of War will get your back and keep you from harm. However, this is going to include knowing when to back down, when to back away and when to take action in a way that is decisively final. In the workplace, my experience has been that the last part if often more difficult for people to adopt than the backing down. (But there will be much more on this later.)
Sun Tzu also goes on to explain that if you don’t adhere to these rules, whether you use the Art of War or not, you’ve already ensured you will fail. This is another critical point in the Art of War. What Sun Tzu has essentially done is stated that if you stick with him 100%, he’ll guarantee success, anything less than that, and you are not using the Art of War and you will fail.
For those familiar with Scrum, this would be “The Art of War, but…” and it has about the same chances of success as “Scrum, but…” (more on Scrum, but)
This level of commitment is something that appears a number of times throughout the book. It can seem a bit severe when put into practice, but it is something that (IMHO) truly differentiates practitioners of the AOW from those who merely dabble in it. Because war is such nasty business, once you have committed to it, Sun Tzu demands total commitment. At times, this means backing down and at times it can mean pushing further than you might normally. Even taking the time to determine, for yourselves, where the line is in terms of what you are willing to do in order to help the project succeed, can be helpful. As Sun Tzu says, we must know our opposition and ourselves. Often, trick for us as PMs, is to make sure there is a difference between the two.
Quotes listed in this entry are taken from John Minford’s Penguin Books Great Ideas translation Sun Tzu The Art of War (Strike with Chaos) published by Penguin books in 2006. The passage covered in this entry can be found on pages 3 and 4 of the book.
Dave Prior on 15. July 2010
I’m very excited to be able to announce that we’ve got a class scheduled in New York City on August 24 and 25th. Frank Blome and I will be teaching the 2-day class together and we will cover how to manage projects using Merlin as well as some basic project management best practices.
We’ve limited the space to just a few in order to ensure we can spend as much time as possible with the folks who attend, so if you are interested in joining us, please check out the page we have set up for US Trainings (there will be more to come) and register as soon as possible.
Dave Prior on 14. July 2010
After listing the five measures (see Chapter 1 – Part 2), Sun Tzu provides an explanation of each of the elements. Throughout the Art of War there are a number of places where Sun Tzu offers an explanation through the use of contrasts and by listing elements which, when grouped together, provide a more complete explanation of the point he is trying to make. If this seems a bit daunting, consider the way the none of the traditional elements that make up a true project plan (Charter, Risk Plan, Communications Plan, Project Schedule, etc.) provide as complete an explanation of what the project entails individually as they do when grouped together.
The Tao (The Way) (more…)
Dave Prior on 9. July 2010
Special Project Potion Interview with ProjectWizard’s Frank Illenberger