Category: Blog


Dealing with Difficult Participants

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One challenging thing to deal with as a facilitator is the “difficult” participant.

Sometimes tricky behaviours will emerge during a training session and often when participants don’t feel safe, valued or heard. Much of this behaviour is amusing and tolerable providing it doesn’t impinge on other’s learning. We’ve got the prisoner, the latecomer, the sleeper (although, sleeping I don’t mind; it’s the snoring that might annoy), the know-it-all, the side conversations, the bored, the confused, the domineering, the challenger, and the otherwise preoccupied – the text messenger. In some thirty years of training I’ve met them all.

It is not uncommon to find at least one participant in a workshop who is not fully or positively engaged. When confronted with such behaviour, we might step back and objectively assess what might be the root cause of their behaviour. For example, why would someone … Read More »


Closing a Project

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In a rush to get projects done, one of the most often overlooked, but critical, tasks of a project manager (PM) is conducting the project close-out step. The project close-out, closing, closure, termination or finish phase is the fourth and last phase in the project life cycle. In this phase, we formally close our project, and evaluate and report its overall performance.

Once the project product(s) has been produced and accepted by our sponsor and customer, our PM responsibilities continue to ensure that the project is properly closed down. A stakeholder acceptance meeting, as the name implies, is when our project team meets with other key stakeholders to review the project product and ensure that it is acceptable.

But sometimes projects take on a never-ending characteristic. They go into limbo land and are never allowed to close often because … Read More »


Project Risk Myths Debunked

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If we were to look up the definition of the word myth, we would find that one definition is that a myth is a “widely held, but false belief or idea.” In many respects a myth is much the same as a false assumption – “factors that, for planning purposes, are considered to be true, real, or certain without proof or demonstration.”  In other words, if we know that a belief is false, then it is not an assumption.  Also, if we know something to be verifiable then it is not an assumption but a fact. Importantly, all assumptions are risks and should therefore be recorded and subject to risk analysis. 

Myth 1: All risk is bad. Risks are potential problems, and if they happen then we are in trouble. The Truth. Risk includes both threats and opportunities, … Read More »


Project Management Programme

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During the three days 3–5 May 2017 I delivered a project management training programme for Ruapehu Whanau Transformation at their excellent training premises at Ohakune in full view of the impressive Mount Ruapehu. The intensive training was well-received and the participants impressed me with their keen interest and conscientious application – particularly their ability to work effectively as a team, which was most evident during the final exercise when they co-operated to produce and present an outstanding solution.

Attached is some PRE-COURSE READING and the comprehensive WORKBOOK that contains the exercises that we used to good effect during the programme, and also attached are the POWERPOINT slides that supported the tuition. Click on the red words for access to these items, but do check … Read More »


Quitting the Project

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“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.”

Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler”

“The Gambler” reminds us that in poker, folding is part of the game. It allows us to take risks, knowing that if things don’t take a positive turn, we can always abandon the pursuit, although as in poker our project might be seduced by sunk costs – irreversible expenditure.

In 1996 there was a fatal attempt to climb Everest, when five people died on the mountain unwilling to heed the mandatory turnaround time and pull the plug on an expedition that faced deteriorating conditions. How do projects continue in the face of evidence that the plug should have been pulled? How can we make sense of this compulsion to continue? While there’s no single … Read More »


IMNZ Diploma in Project Management – Review

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Surprising Invitation to Review Proposed Content

IMNZ (Institute of Management New Zealand) is tinkering with the current Diploma in Project Management (DipPM). The structure, content, and method of delivery will evidently be very much the same as the previous programme developed by SkillPower, and will still be waterfall-based, but some adjustments, such as the exclusion of project site visits that were designed to add a practical element to the otherwise classroom-bound tuition, have apparently been made to align the programme with new qualifications, but unfortunately there will still be no recognition of prior learning or cross-crediting for this programme as for NZ National Diplomas.

Frankly, I’m not sure the IMNZ is now in the project management training hunt and might be better to focus on their generic management training given the increasing presence of project management-specific training organisations, such as ProjectPlus, and … Read More »


PRINCESS

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My intention is to write a book titled “PRINCESS” which will be a soft skills companion for the hard skills focused PRINCE2 or any other project management (PM) methodology.

The book will be designed as a uniquely Kiwi companion to the UK process-heavy PRINCE2 methodology that largely ignores the so-called soft skills essential for PM success. Once the technical processes of PRINCE2 have been mastered, it’s always the people that make the difference. Soft skills help us use our hard skills expertise to full advantage. So, to be effective PMs we need both soft skills and hard skills, and research supports this assertion, but let’s describe these two skill sets:

Hard Skills. Hard skills are technical abilities that generally involve the creation of a tangible deliverable such as a work breakdown structure (WBS), project schedule, critical path diagram, earned value reports, and … Read More »


Delegation

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Big projects mean we can’t do all the work ourselves,  and no one wants us to because we aren’t that good at everything. So assigning or delegating project tasks to others who possess the requisite skill sets is crucial to getting the project done. Within an organisation, project management (PM) itself is an example of delegation of authority, typically from the CEO to the project sponsor to the PM.

Delegation means realising results, by empowering and motivating others to achieve their assigned targets. But before we explore this important soft skill further, we need to have an understanding of three terms – accountability, responsibility and authority. The main difference between them is that the last two can be shared, while the first cannot, and responsibility moves upwards, whereas authority flows downwards.

Accountability. Accountability is the answerability for performance of assigned tasks. … Read More »


NZIM Diploma in Project Management

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This programme, first developed in 2002 and kept updated until my contract with NZIM recently “expired”, is for people who are entering or actively engaged in project management. Those awarded this qualification will have demonstrated their ability to take responsibility for managing projects, including the work of others within a project team.

Incidentally, the “NZIM” title has now been courageously rebranded “IMNZ” perhaps to somehow revitalise those tired words “Institute” and “Management”, yet the phoenix-like logo has been shelved. But partnering with Massey should help with survival. I’m watching with interest.

Anyway, DPM programme participants complete four classroom modules and four assignments based on each participant’s real workplace project. The four classroom modules are covered in nine training days over four months. Tuition is based on the following SkillPower project management model:

A participant’s workbook and PowerPoint slides for each … Read More »


NZIDR Project Management Masterclass

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During the week 21-25 November I presented a Project Management Masterclass for five top Bangladeshie students: A B M Majibur Rahman, Gazi Mohammad Nazmul Hossain, Minhaj Uddin Ahammad, Abu Sayed Mojumder, and M Rizwanul Haque.

The excellent training venue was provided by the very able and obliging Sapphire Consultants, Petone. Each student was provided with a comprehensive workbook and hard copies of PowerPoint slides. Here are some random photos taken during the programme.

“Space Survival” – a very challenging project risk management exercise that the team completed with great accuracy to readily meet a tough deadline.

The Lego Sky Tower ice-breaker challenge that requires each team to design and construct a model tower given material and labour costs, quality/specification requirements, and an ability for the deliverable to withstand a 14 degrees tilt in all directions in recognition of quake hazards. … Read More »



Blog

My latest thoughts on Project Management and life.

Monte Carlo Simulation

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Edition 6) advocates the use of Monte Carlo simulation for performing quantitative risk analysis.

In the project management...

Time Management

Among other changes, the Project Management Institute in their latest Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Edition 6) has sensibly renamed the “Time Management”...

Quitting our Project – Prematurely!

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em


Know when to walk away


And...