Our industry is no stranger to change, but that can make it difficult to stay on top of important project management news and articles. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Here’s what you need to know this week:
JetBrains launches a work management tool for developers, trust is a critical element for high-performing teams, and more project management news
JetBrains launches Space, a collaborative work management tool for developers. JetBrains announced the launch on its blog, saying Space is a centralized workspace for teams, designed to combat the silos often created by using multiple independent tools. Key features include chat and team directories, as well as Git-based version control, code review, and issue tracking.
Organizational change management (OCM) adds agility to strategy. PMSolutions’ white paper (free to download) offers guidance on how to effectively approach and execute change initiatives, including understanding common challenges, how to assess stakeholder readiness, how to overcome resistance, and how to help employees through change fatigue.
8 management behaviors that foster trust. After a decade of research, Paul J. Zak has found that people at high-trust companies have 74% less stress, are 50% more productive, and experience 40% less burnout. To help organizations reap these rewards, he’s put together a framework of behaviors that managers can leverage to build a culture of trust.
Gartner identifies 10 strategic technology trends for 2020. The list highlights technology businesses should consider in their five-year strategic plans. Trends are grouped into two categories: people-centric (the structure used to organize and evaluate the primary impact of the trend) and smart spaces (the physical environment in which people and technology-enabled systems interact).
Is your workplace ready for 2020? Work futurist Dominic Price predicts 10 trends that will become mainstream in 2020. Get ready for organizations to forgo grand “transformation” initiatives for gradual, continuous improvements; and, for the “always-on” culture once associated with “dedicated employees” to be called out for contributing to toxic and abusive work environments.
Week of Dec. 9, 2019
Increase revenue by reducing employee stress, why we should rebrand soft skills as core skills, and more project management news
Stress is negatively impacting your employees’ performance—and your revenue. According to a Gartner survey, moderately stressed employees underperform those who aren’t by 5%—reducing a $1 billion top line by $32.5 million. Highly stressed employees negatively impact revenue even more. As change is a leading cause of stress (both the frequency of change as well as how it’s rolled out), project leaders need to rethink how they’re approaching change to make it less stressful for employees, or accept that they’re losing money if they don’t.
Resource capacity planning 101. The third video in Tempus Resource’s free nine-part series on resource capacity planning has aired (7:53 run time). In it, Donna Fitzgerald explains how to categorize employee skills to help with short- and long-term forecasting and also how many skills you should ideally have within your organization’s resource skills database.
Why we should rebrand soft skills as core skills. Christina Lovelock believes the term soft skills is an inadequate description of what are fundamental competencies for project leaders, competencies that are more important than someone’s technical prowess. Instead, she suggests the term core skills, noting that “core skills are the cake. Technical skills which are (comparatively) much easier to learn and develop are the icing.”
What’s on your wish list this year? In an technology-themed take on a grown-up Christmas wish, Elizabeth Harrin lists three consumer needs that she wants project management software vendors to meet in 2020, largely by leveraging advances in AI. Her wishes include: Give us more data so we can make data-driven decisions, make tools feature-rich but also usable, and automate more tasks so we have more time for people.
Best practices for stakeholder engagement. In a follow-up to “Know Your Stakeholders,” Alan Zucker outlines the basics of stakeholder engagement. Fundamentals include tailoring communication plans to the type of stakeholder and maintaining an issue log to document, track, and respond to issues and stakeholder concerns over the course of the project.
Week of Dec. 2, 2019
KPMG slashes project management staff in half, how to write a killer project manager resume, and more project management news
KPMG cuts its in-house project management team in half. Sky News reports that Big Four accounting firm KPMG is cutting its year-old PMO, the Transformation Centre of Expertise, in half, from almost 40 positions to fewer than 20. U.K. shadow chancellor John McDonnell has vowed to break up the Big Four’s cartel by forcing them to split their auditing and consulting practices, which has those firms cutting costs in preparation.
How to write a project manager resume that jumps out. For The Muse, recruiter and HR manager Jaclyn Westlake offers a thorough five-step guide on how to write a project manager resume that stands out from the crowd and demands attention from hiring managers, with an example of a finished product.
How to balance work during the holidays. Mental health counselor and workplace communication expert Stephanie Sarkis shares some advice for balancing work around the holidays, when career and family/cultural obligations collide for a perfect storm of stress. Sarkis advises saying no to unreasonable and unwanted requests, avoiding overspending, and admitting when you need help.
Week of Nov. 25, 2019
Trello adds AI functionality to free and paid plans, when to use NGT, and more project management news
Trello adds AI functionality. Trello, a work management solution that helps teams manage tasks and workflows on a task board, has announced several new features. These include new board and card templates, task/workflow automation, and “suggested actions,” which uses machine learning to understand common actions and makes suggestions based on historical data. Trello has over 14,250 reviews and a 4.5-out-of-5-star user rating on Capterra’s software directory.
When to use the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). Harry Hall notes that NGT is a structured method for brainstorming that is valuable for larger groups as it avoids groupthink and gives participants an equal voice. Participants individually write down ideas, which are then aggregated into a group document. Each participant identifies what they think are the top three ideas by assigning a value (using the 3-2-1 method). The votes are totaled and the list prioritized by the items with the highest totals.
Focus your sprint review on what was done, not what was planned. Jesse Houwing says that the purpose of a sprint review is to plan what to do next, not to reflect on what wasn’t accomplished. (That’s what retrospectives are for.) He recommends contrasting the backlog at the beginning of the sprint to what it looks like at the end, which helps focus on differences (e.g., what’s done), changes (e.g., added items or new priorities), and the future sprint.
Do you measure performance on individual contributions over teamwork? While most organizations value teamwork, they still measure performance by an individual’s contributions. Kiron Bondale points out this dilemma: Our willingness to help someone is now reduced by our need to finish our own work, as the latter is what’s measured. He illustrates this issue with a Dilbert cartoon, showing Dilbert decline to help a teammate because their lower performance means Dilbert can “lay claim to a larger share of our limited budget for raises.”
Week of Nov. 18, 2019
Basecamp launches a free plan, how to make your stand-ups more effective, and more project management news
Basecamp launches free plan. Basecamp’s founder, Jason Fried, recently announced the launch of Basecamp Personal. Designed for individuals and small teams, the free plan includes three projects, 20 users, and a gig of storage. Within a shared project workspace, users can chat via the “campfire” tool, post announcements on a message board, upload and store files, and schedule check-ins with other users. Basecamp has over 11,000 reviews and a 4.3-out-of-5-star user rating on Capterra’s software directory.
Resource capacity planning 101. Tempus Resource is hosting a free nine-part video series on resource capacity planning with Donna Fitzgerald, current executive director at NimblePM and former Gartner research VP analyst. Two videos have aired so far, the first covering how resource capacity planning enables strategy execution (5:27 run time) and the second covering how heuristics can make this approach easier (10:47 run time).
10 ways to make your stand-ups more useful. Mike Cohn offers 10 tips for making your daily Scrum (or stand-up meeting) more effective. These range from establishing rules around what kinds of updates do and do not belong in the meeting, language to use vs. avoid (e.g., talk about impediments instead of blockers), and having people show what they’re working on either on a physical board or shared software tool.
How to become a growth mindset leader. In this Linkedin article, leadership expert Steve Gutzler outlines the differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, and why you should embrace the former if you want to be an effective leader. For example, a fixed mindset leader sets safe goals rather than stretch goals (fear of failure), while a growth mindset leader sets stretch goals and isn’t afraid to fail as they master the skills necessary to reach them.
‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail:’ Not just for laughs. Brad Egeland shows that while the 1975 British comedy film may seem an unlikely source of project management inspiration, there are lessons we can learn. For example, overconfidence may cut you off at the knees (i.e., the Black Knight) and don’t underestimate seemingly small risks (i.e., the killer bunny).
Week of Nov. 11, 2019
A four-day workweek test yields promising results, why road maps are crucial for project success, and more project management news
A four-day workweek test yields promising results.This summer, Microsoft Japan piloted a four-day workweek—at no change in pay—and found that it boosted workers’ productivity by 40%, reports NPR. The shorter workweek had additional benefits as well, including lowering electricity costs by 23%. Workplace analyst Dan Schawbel is quoted saying moves like this can help businesses ease the growing burnout crisis among employees.
“The motivated team is the more productive team.” Brad Egeland offers six tips to help project leaders keep their teams motivated project in, project out. These include: pay them well so you can retain your best talent, give them positive exposure and recognition for a job well done, and engage/involve them as early as possible in planning.
Every project needs a road map. Dinesh Varadharajan notes that with the excitement (or pressure) of a new project, it’s easy to succumb to the impulse to start work and figure out the details later. He cautions project managers to avoid making that mistake, highlighting six reasons why projects need a road map to be successful. For example, road maps outline project goals, give the team direction, and help prevent scope creep.
Is Agile turning out to be more hype than hero? Carla Rudder notes that if Agile project management isn’t delivering the benefits you expected, you may be making one (or more) common mistakes. These pitfalls include a lack of support and understanding of Agile practices from senior leadership and not enough thought and planning put into teams.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. PMSolutions has put together a one-page PDF (free download) with 10 metrics for performance management, noting that it’s important for organizations to ensure they’ve aligned measurements with their business goals. Use these to ensure projects are aligned with and delivering on strategic objectives.
Week of Nov. 4, 2019
Microsoft rolls out Project, how to communicate effectively even in crisis, and more project management news
Microsoft rolls out Project, a cloud-based offering for work management. Project, also known as Project for the web, is a separate product from Project Online, which is built for project management rather than work management. Key features of Project include task management, Gantt charts, reporting, and integrations with Office 365, MS Teams, and Power BI. It’s available through either Project Online Professional or Project Online Premium subscriptions.
3 fundamental mistakes that project managers make. Susanne Madsen highlights three traps project managers fall prey to that prevent them from becoming great project leaders. These pitfalls are (1) managing tasks and processes above people; (2) being reactive and prioritizing what’s urgent over what’s important; and (3) believing they as the manager have the right answer rather than empowering the team to innovate solutions.
Agile teams shouldn’t finish everything in every iteration. Mike Cohn notes that expecting teams to finish 100% of work, 100% of the time is unrealistic and can introduce dysfunctionality. A more realistic expectation is that teams should finish 100% of what they plan, 80% of the time. And if part of your team’s job involves responding to ad hoc requests and interruptions, he recommends having an even lower target to set realistic goals for them.
Tips for communicating effectively in times of crisis. Olivia Montgomery highlights four crisis situations that can easily derail a project if communication isn’t handled properly, including “the last-minute project assignment” and “low team morale.” She then explains how to communicate with different stakeholder groups in each scenario so you overcome the crisis quickly and get the project back on track.
Is it time to change the way you work (and manage)? Sarah Goff-Dupont interviewed David Pink about the current crisis of disengagement and what managers and businesses can do to keep their teams motivated. His tips for building a culture of intrinsic motivation include giving teams more autonomy over their work and allowing them to weigh in on decisions that impact them. “Humans don’t do their best work under conditions of control,” says Pink.
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