9 Project Management Commandments to live by

I'm coaching a very successful software company in Auckland on the finer points of Project Management.  The 9 commandments that follow represent an accumulation of wisdom that has served me well over the years.  Please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.
  1. Begin with the end in mind
    • Plan the flight... then fly the plan
    • Pause for agreement and clarity before implementing
    • Stay wedded to the outcome, not the path for getting there
    • The worst time to define success is after it’s over
  2. Manage by result, not activity
    • An active team is not necessarily a productive team
    • Focus on Throughput
    • Limit Work in Progress
    • Learn to use teams to achieve results... not individuals.
  3. Compromise on scope not quality
    • Define ‘quality’ upfront (e.g. verification criteria)
    • Understand technical debt
    • Learn to recognize an ‘interest’ payment from a ‘capital’ payment. (i.e. treat causes as well as effects)
  4. Escalate early and often (e.g. 2X2X2 Escalation)
    • 2 minutes to explain the issue
    • 2 minutes to describe options
    • 2 minutes to make a decision on what to do next
  5. Continuous Course Correction
    • Invest in short regular planning exercises.
    • The act of planning is more valuable than the plan!
    • Learn to surface impediments/blockers regularly
    • Planning exercises are for planning the work not doing the work!
  6. Serve your team
    • Enable your teams with clear decisions, clear priorities and lot’s of encouragement
    • Double the rate of failure!
    • Trust your experts
  7. Manage the context
    • Maintain situational awareness outside of the team
    • Make yourself aware of ALL the stakeholders
    • Create an atmosphere that celebrates failure as a learning experience
    • Communicate little bits of news often!
  8. DWYSYWDWYSYWDI
    • Credibility is critical to building trust
    • Do What You Said You Would Do When You Said You Would Do It .
  9. Retire risk early
    • Tiger cubs are easier to deal with than tigers!
    • Prioritize first... sequence last.


How can corporations best fight atrophy?


How can corporations best fight atrophy?

I was listening to a podcast a while back* by Ried Hoffman (who started LinkedIn and Paypal) and something he said got me thinking about corporate atrophy**.

Ried mentioned how easy it was for Paypal to out maneuver the larger banking bodies during the startup phase. They were busy testing the legal definition of a bank with their online offering and the banks were squirming and nearly powerless to respond. In fact some of the banks online counter offerings took in excess of 12 months to deliver... as Ried correctly points out, thats an eon in internet time!

Just how did the banks get to this lethargic state?

And how can they (or any large corporate body for that matter) hope to compete in this rapidly changing business environment.

More to the point, How can corporations best fight this atrophy?

*For Rieds Podcast: http://edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=1650 
** Definition of atrophy: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/atrophy


I posted this question in LinkedIn and got quite a few interesting suggestions back:

Mergers & Acquisitions
>>Let others take the big risks and buy them up when they look promising.

Various forms of Internal Entrepreneurialism
>> Google have an interesting internal policy where they allow thier employees to use 20% of their worktime to work on anything they want. They have enjoyed an enormous amount of success from the projects resourced this way.


9 Top Tips for starting an Agile Project

  1. Set-up a planning session with the project sponsor... get them to share the vision... identify  the Success Criteria (I.e. the conditions under which the vision will be considered realised)
  2. Use Rob Thomsett's project success sliders to define the degree of flexibility in the different dimensions.
  3. Derive SMART Objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely)
  4. Create a Product Breakdown Structure
  5. Turn this into a Product Flow Chart and use this to communicate the project roadmap to both the team and the sponsor.
  6. Use Mike Cohn's planning poker to estimate the relative weighting for each of the main products on the roadmap.
  7. Establish a burndown chart to track 'speed over ground'.
  8. Propose that your project sponsor gives the status reports on the project.
  9. Re-plan the project regularly.  Keep checking that the project goal is still the same (i.e. progressive elaboration)