Project Management

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Project Management Humor

Categories: General

Project managers work hard all day in their projects and usually do not have much time for fun. But, this does not mean that they are lack of humor. Below is a list of project management humor that I have curated from various sources and a couple of my own creations. Take a break. Have a good laugh!

  1. Any task, no matter how complex, can be estimated accurately, once it's completed.
  2. What is the favorite line that the project manager likes to say to the sponsor? - "You jump, I jump".
  3. You can bully a project manager into committing to an impossible project completion date, but you cannot bully him into meeting it.
  4. Why do project managers wear Nike but sponsors prefer Adidas? - The answer is in the slogans, Nike: "Just Do It", Adidas: "Impossible is nothing".
  5. Too few people on a project can't solve the problems - too many create more problems than they solve.
  6. A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
  7. A user is somebody who tells you what they really want the day you give them what they first asked for.
  8. Project manager is, in a way, like Pinocchio except that the project manager’s project gets longer for each lie he or she tells.
  9. There's never enough time to do it right first time, but there's always enough time to go back and do it again.
  10. Prioritization is the best abused trick to say ‘No’.
  11. I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
  12. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
  13. If you fail to plan the project, you are planning to fail the project.
  14. What goes up but never comes down (besides our age)? – The number of issues in a project.
  15. The sooner you fall behind the project schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
  16. PMO means different thing to different people. To the users it means 'Piss Me Off'; and to the project managers it means 'Pimp Me Off'.
  17. What is another name for Steering Committee? - "Staring Committee". Well, some really just stare at the projects and hardly doing anything.
  18. What is the most common item that pops up in lessons learned meeting? - "We need to remember to conduct lessons learned meeting".
  19. Putting an efficient system into a wrong process is just accelerating its failure.
  20. Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get them they don’t want them.
  21. The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
  22. When everything runs well, you call it ‘Agile’. But when things start to break apart, you change the word to ‘Fragile’.
  23. The biggest risk in a project is, ironically, the project manager paying no attention to the risk management part of the project.
  24. Remember the lesson from the 'Three Little Pigs’ – cheap and fast never last.
  25. A project gets a year late one day at a time.
  26. I heard they said the lesson learned meeting is a good place to start the ‘Blamestorming’.
  27. Screw up once, it's a mistake. Twice, it's a process. Three times, it's policy.
  28. Sponsors are like diapers - they need to be changed often, and for the same reason.
  29. Project Management is like a STD - a short moment of fun followed by pain and a long time of regret.

Feel free to share yours and I will add on the list…

Posted on: September 25, 2012 06:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

A Comic for RACI

Categories: General

 Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication Leonardo da Vinci once said.

As we try to simplify things with models, metaphors and acronyms, we unknowingly add on a layer of abstraction to the whole matter. No doubt things look a lot simpler and neater on the surface, but as soon as you peel off the surface layer and take a peek at what is hidden underneath, you will realize that it is still a whole mess down there. I agree that a lot of sophisticated works are required to turn complexity into simplicity. We see these in daily life from mathematics and engineering to business management and marketing phrases. So why are we doing this? Apart from being simple, they are often sexy, catchy and easy to latch on. Some of the better ones, like the Five Forces, Black Swan and PMBOK, have even taken on a memetic life of its own.

In the project management domain, we too have a handful of good examples. For instance, the ‘chickens and pigs’ concept that Ken Schwaber introduced for the daily stand-up is so widely accepted that it is now being borrowed and adapted as analogies in other fields. Why? This is because the concept of pigs>bacon>committed versus chickens>eggs>involved is so comme il faut that the metaphors link up naturally in the mind. It just clicks and sticks.

What about its cousin – the RACI matrix? Well, it does have its own supporters. It is also an acronym-based matrix. The only difference is it has not enjoyed the same popularity as the ‘chickens and pigs’. In fact, quite a lot of people find it confusing. I am quite sure there are many project managers out there who are still not very sure how to fill up the matrix correctly. I have actually met a few.

Wait a second. Isn’t RACI matrix a well-defined matrix? So why is it so confusing and difficult to understand? It seems like people are having a tough time figuring out the differences among the four key responsibility roles, especially between the ‘accountable’ and ‘responsible’ roles. Is it because of the definitions of the roles are not clear enough? Definitely not! What could be the reason(s) then?

If you are observant enough, by now you should have spotted another major difference between the ‘chickens and pigs’ concept and RACI matrix. The ‘chickens’ and the ‘pigs’ are far more lifelike than the dully represented ‘R’, ‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘I’. There is nothing wrong with the definitions. People just find it difficult to relate the theories with practical applications. Yes, RACI needs a story and some metaphors for people to connect it with real life examples. This is exactly what is missing. Without further ado, I hereby present you a comic for RACI – “Gang of Four at Tea Party”. Hope you like it.

Posted on: May 23, 2012 05:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Where Have All The Talents Gone?

Categories: General

According to the recent Dice Report, nearly 900 hiring managers and recruiters that source, recruit and hire IT professionals, 65% anticipate an increase in hiring in the second half of 2011 compares to the preceding six months. However, respondents also indicate that the time to fill a position is lengthening, and 63% of them attribute talent shortages as the primary reason which compares to just 46% who felt that way six months ago. Where have all the talents gone?

Before we proceed to discuss the above question, let’s take a step back and reexamine the hiring process. When you need to hire someone for your project team, what do you usually do? Most of you will probably contact your Human Resource department and they will request a detailed Job Description (JD) from you for the new position to be hired. Without further ado, you will enthusiastically send out a 3-inches thick JD to your HR just to justify the importance of the role and to ensure that your HR is able to get you the right person for the job. In fact, this is exactly what the HR will do – find the perfect match. They will scrutinize the pile of submitted applications and drop those that do not match the criteria highlighted in your JD (I suspect they might even have a super-duper software to do that automatically). What you will be choosing from eventually are those ‘lucky ones’ that slipped through your HR’s most stringent filtering system. Good luck, if the above process sounds familiar to you. What’s wrong with this?

No, there is nothing wrong with the process; the problem lies in the screening and filtering procedures performed by your HR.  Yet, do not blame your HR. They are not the experts in your domain. Hence, do not expect them to be able to differentiate between PMP vs. PgMP certification or know the significance of project management experience over domain knowledge. For example, if you are looking for a business analyst with 5 years of experience and strong investment banking knowledge; would you try someone with CBAP and 10 years of business analysis experience but no banking knowledge? Or what you need is a seasoned project manager with 10 years of experience; would you even consider a PMP certified junior project manager with 5 years of experience? Your HR will, without doubt, drop the two applicants from the above examples since they do not match the criteria in your JD. Now, isn’t this ironical? Dropping a PMP certified, and supposedly much younger and energetic, project manager just because he or she does not have the required years of working experience (assuming experience is not correlated to capability)?

What the HR are doing is typical apple-to-apple comparison to pick your champ based on what the candidate has done in the past and not on actual capabilities of what he or she could potentially contribute to your team in the future. In other words, they are selecting someone that is ‘ready-to-serve’ for the immediate needs in your team.  However, are we going to rely solely on a person’s history and credentials to judge his or her potentials? While work experiences, academic achievements, domain knowledge and skill set can be easily presented and identified in a person’s resume, less quantifiable attributes like soft skills and personalities can only be validated appropriately through interviews and psychometric tests. Not to mention it is well known that resume can be easily cooked up and nicely spruced, and most of them are usually over-claimed. Should we still stick with this old way of headhunting? If you are going to continue to do so, there is a high chance that you might miss out potential talents through this kind of filtering procedures. The key question is – are you looking for someone who can fit nicely into the current role or a potential star player who may contribute beyond your expectation? If I were you, I will either do the screening myself or keep the JD as simple and short as possible. Ultimately, what I want for my team is a creative individual, a thinker and a future leader, and not someone who just wait for instructions. What about you?

Posted on: July 03, 2011 09:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)
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"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."

- Charlie Chaplin