Payson Hall is a consulting project manager for Catalysis Group, Inc. in Sacramento, California. Payson consults on project management issues and teaches project management. Email Payson at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter at @paysonhall.
People love to hear how someone with no formal training solved a problem that stumped experts because they weren't tainted by years of experience. These "black swan" stories are the exception, though, not the rule, and they can be dangerous because they trivialize hard work and study. Most times, you want an expert.
If you have an important implementation date, early identification of the minimum viable product is a vital risk-management step that helps focus your team’s attention on what's important. Rather than apologizing for intelligent phasing of functionality to manage risk, explain it to stakeholders and take credit.
One of the more challenging tasks for a new leader is joining a new organization. There is an interesting balance that must be struck in making it clear that there’s a new sheriff in town without being disrespectful or dismissive of your predecessor and the organization they established. Here's how to get it right.
Teams are systems made up of individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. When people are cooperating on a team—whether in software development or football—sometimes those strengths and weaknesses can be complementary, and other times they can be out of alignment. Be sure to draft the player your team needs.
Decision-making in a climate of ambiguous responsibility is a no-win situation. If you're in a position of some authority, how can you define exactly what that authority allows in order to better secure sponsor support for your decisions? It involves considering some scenarios and asking the right clarifying questions.
Many new project fields look simple from a distance because we only see the outputs and interfaces. But corner cases, bad data, users with special needs, regulations—getting inside a new knowledge domain and teasing out the special cases and unhappy paths is a skill. This is why business analysts are so important.
If a team member leaves without notice, it slows down a project and puts stress on everyone else as you wait for a replacement. There's not much we can do with surprises, but why don’t we do a better job of planning for those we know are going to leave? Building in some overlap for knowledge transfer should be a given.