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T. Boone Pickens Talks to PMI Today®
| Project managers have to express authority, legendary oil and gas executive T. Boone Pickens said in an exclusive interview in the September issue of PMI's member publication PMI Today. |
Founder and chairman of BP Capital Management and author of The First Billion of the Hardest, Mr. Pickens will serve as the keynote speaker for PMI Global Congress 2009--North America.
In the PMI Today interview, Mr. Pickens discusses everything from innovation to leadership.
Here are some highlights:
On his predictions for growth in the alternative energy sector--and the chance of a bust like the dot-com industry:
Sure, you could have a runaway for awhile, but I think renewable energy is here to stay. There is an opportunity to make money and develop new products in the sector. If we get 200,000 megawatts going in the Great Plains, it is unbelievable what it would do for the economy, jobs and taxes in the small and mid-sized communities, which have lost population over the past several decades. It can all be done with the right leadership.
On what advice he has for project managers:
You have to express authority. You can't just tell everyone to go do their best and then sit back. You are in a role where you can direct. ...
On what project managers thinking of turning to consulting should keep in mind:
Hang out your own shingle. Don't figure out what you are making by the hour because it will make you cry. Go out on your own, double your time, work harder and make it your own. Suck it up and know you are able to accomplish what you want to do.
PMI members can read the full interview in the digital edition of PMI Today on PMI.org.
Eulogy to the Old Agile
| Escorted on stage by a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace, Alistair Cockburn, Ph.D., began his keynote address for the Agile 2009 Conference by waxing Shakespearean on the death of agile as we know it:|
I come to bury agile, not to praise it;
The evil methods do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with agile.
The noble Waterfall
Hath told you agile was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath agile answered it.
(Adapted from Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2. You can read Alistair's full monologue here.)
Melodramatic (in a good way) to be sure.
But Alistair, an IT strategist and co-author of the Agile Manifesto, doesn't really believe agile has "met its maker" as the saying goes. Instead, he said agile is in transition--it's not the agile of the 1990s. The landscape has changed. It's grown beyond small organizations and is being applied to much richer, much more complex concepts and projects.
Agile shouldn't be "new news," he said. "We're focusing so heavily on things that are 15 years old, I want to start focusing on things that are current."
He also shared three pillars of 21st century software development:
â€¢ Software development is a craft: Developers must pay attention to their skills and to the medium--they must relearn every few years.
â€¢ Software development is a cooperative game of invention and communication: It relies on teamwork, communication and strategies.
â€¢ Software development should use lean processes: That means small queues, cross-trained people and varied processes.
Hosted by the Agile Alliance, the conference has pulled in 1,400 attendees from more than 38 countries. You can follow all of the conference happenings on Twitter.
Did you attend Alistair's keynote address? What did you think?
More to come.
Proving PMO Value: Think Thin
| Amidst all the talk about the value of project management offices (PMOs), maybe organizations should be looking at size.|
"PMOs do not have to be big", says Ardi Ghorashy, PMP, PgMP, a partner with 80/20 Consulting Inc., Markham, Ontario, Canada, told me in a recent interview.
"The biggest mistake I think that companies make is that they create a monster organization with a lot of overhead and they also bring all the project managers to report into a PMO. That creates a big lump sum of cost sink that becomes very visible at the executive level every year when you review your finances.
Then the question will always get asked, 'What's the return value on this investment.' And project management has traditionally been very difficult and notorious at quantifying its ROI.
... By its nature, a PMO has such an encompassing impact on the organization that it affects a lot of things. You can't really measure it very easily. .... These days we say PMOs need to be implemented extremely thinly. [Thin] PMOs will demonstrate the value very, very easily."
What do you think? Are "thin" PMOs the way to go?
General Motor's PMO
| As director of the enterprise program management office at General Motors (GM), Paul Checkowsky oversees program management offices around the world in different functionary areas like sales, manufacturing and supply chain. He took some time to answer a couple of questions about the state of the project management office (PMO) at the auto giant and throughout the world.|
How has the economic downturn affected the PMO at GM?
From an economic standpoint, we've got to be a lot more careful about getting the most value for our money. A couple of examples:
In the past, we've focused a lot on quality assurance of the process--making sure that people are following all of the steps. That's very time-consuming and can be expensive. Now we've built the quality-assurance process into the steps. We no longer have checkers checking peoples' work. We basically built the quality into the process, so that at the end, we don't need to perform a final quality review.
We are also doing more backward planning rather than forward planning. We are making timing and content commitments to our business community at the beginning of the year and we are holding the project teams to those commitments. We then plan backward to determine what and when we have to do to achieve the commitments. Many project teams are not comfortable with this approach but it does force teams to get off to a fast start and forces them to resolve issues in a timely and efficient manner.
The other thing we've been doing is instead of being a policing organization, [the PMO] is now much more involved with mentoring upfront-- making sure the project teams are aware of the processes and helping them know where they might encounter bumps in the road.
Do you think more organizations are realizing the value of the PMO?
Actually, in the last six to 12 months, I've [received] a lot of feedback from individuals saying that this new approach--where the PMOs are actually part of the teams doing the work--is very effective.
[Organizations] themselves are finding ways to leverage these PMO capabilities and this expertise especially helping to identify and resolve integration issues, mentoring of enabling processes and eliminating deployment roadblocks. So I think it's been very positive, and I think it's here to stay.
Mr. Checkowsky says it's hard to say what is going to happen with GM's EPMO in light of the economic situation. At the time of this interview, news headlines speculated the organization's possible bankruptcy.
Overall, however, he says that "people are going to expect more with less. That's not going to change. We're going to have to do a lot more with fewer people, less money and less time."
Despite the challenges, however, he says there are exciting opportunities out there. "Because of the conditions that we're facing, this is really an opportunity for us to put some changes in place that we've considered in the past.
"Before, there wasn't a burning platform. Now, there is. So people are much more open to changes and new ideas--where in the past, they'd be, "This has worked for us all of these years. Why change?" Now people are realizing they do need to change. It's actually an opportunity to put some of these new approaches in place. We've just got to make sure that they're effective."
Managing Through Layoffs
PM & the Economy
Categories: PM & the Economy
| The bad news keeps pouring in when it comes to job markets around the globe. In Israel, nearly 20,000 people lost their jobs in January. In Ireland, that number neared 37,000. And in the United States, it was a staggering 600,000. |
While such details are simultaneously horrifying and fascinating, it raises a question: Who is taking on all the work these layoffs have left behind?
In a recent article, Cynthia K. West, Ph.D., vice president of Project Insight, highlighted several factors that organizations, resource managers and project managers must face when job losses occur. They include:
â€¢ Replacing resources on existing processShe goes on to say:
"The most immediate challenge that arises is the replacement of resources on existing projects. More often than not, projects in process still need to be completed on schedule--and within budget. The questions that must be answered are: Do the remaining resources on the team have the skill sets to complete the work? Can we transition these tasks without getting behind schedule? Does the organization have an effective way to look into the resource pool and know what skill sets the team members have?"So what is the solution?
Ms. West makes several suggestions for managing these problems, for example she suggest organizations should put together a resource pool together to keep track of employee skillsets, while at the same time creating a knowledgebase that all employees can access and benefit from. It should include best practice documents, lessons learned, etc.
She also says it's important to ask the question, "Does this project help the organization reduce cost?" And then prioritize.
But what do you think? According to a recent poll here on Voices, more than half of our readers organizations' have experienced layoffs thanks to this global economic crisis. How is your organization dealing with the mounting workloads--and making sure you don't lose any critical knowledge?