Manual Making It Happen: A Non-Technical Guide to Project Management

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The two main techniques are as follows :. Furthermore, and though I would encourage all first-time projects to move slowly and avoid breaking things, keeping an eye out for scaling potential can often be key to future successes. There are a few key groups which ought to be made aware of either successes and failures, and so for a wide variety of reasons :. I have bad news. And good news. The bad news is that the work never ends. The good news is that the work never ends. Indeed, letting an algorithm run unchecked for a long period of time once its put into production would be foolish.

The world change, as do people and their habits, leading to their data to change. Within months, it is likely that the initial data used to train an algorithm is no longer relevant. The challenge here is that it might be very hard to notice at first that the algorithm is no longer representative of the world and needs to be reworked using the expertise gained during the construction of version 1.

Talk about a Sisyphean task. Hint : The world changes a lot faster than you think. And an algorithm cannot see that. The very nature of a data-driven project is that it cannot be generic. This means spending both time and money to create something unique to cross a moat created by an early adopter. But because A. I capabilities tend to grow at an exponential rate within large companies, the moat just keeps getting wider. This is the challenge that many companies now face, and why they need a solid process to get started : their margin for error is quickly shrinking.

As such, I have a few final recommendations :. Sign in. Get started. I project. A non-technical guide for managers, leaders, thinkers and dreamers. Adrien Book Follow. Hint : Risk assessment are best performed by outside players. Hint : all models are wrong, but some are useful. Project Manager? A hundred objections formed themselves in my mind-I don't know anything about boat design!

I know nothing about factory set-up! I'm not an engineer!

Making It Happen: A Non-Technical Guide to Project Management [Book]

My feeling of doom deepened. Nothing too serious, nothing we can't work around. Conditions set by the boss that you have to work around. O h good, I thought, up the bureaucratic ladder to the ultimate control freak before I can spend a dime. That will be fun. The last project he was on was a total screw up. A1 seemed the logical choice because he was an engineer, was head of Industrial and Production Engineering, and was the only Certified Project Manager at Hyler.

Since no objective had yet been established, other than to "do things in a quality way", no results had been achieved. Morale in the plant had never been worse. Stu said, "You and I both know it was and is a dismal failure. But Ralph needed it to be successful, and so it was successful.

What Project Managers Really Need to Know: 7. Making it Happen

Putting A1 on this team is Ralph's way of having an insider, a spy. You'd be stupid to ignore it. Just don't let it affect success you want to achieve. I began to pray A1 would get hit by a bus. More software to learn. He wants to see it in a Gantt chart format, but he's leaving the choice of the software up to you. I had survived many projects in the past, but the size of this one made me nervous, not to mention the employment implications. I had a sign in my office that looked like this: Steps in a Project 1.

Enthusiasm 2. Action 3. Consternation 4. Panic 5. Obfuscation 6. Punishment of the innocent 7. Praise and rewards to the non-participants It was supposed to be humorous, but it rang just a little too true. I had a vague idea about work breakdown structures, earned value costing, and I had actually tried using Gantt charts for doing scheduling. I had used those tools in one of my university courses, but none of them had helped me much on real projects. And now I felt like I would be needing all the help I could get. He's the certified project manager. You could just as easily screw it up.

But I know A1 has the wrong approach. He's proved it on every project he's managed here at Hyler. You, on the other hand, have a fighting chance of trying something different, even if out of desperation, and we just might succeed. A1 believes that if the textbooks say it, it must be right, regardless of whether it actually works. You've still got to keep Ralph happy, and there's not much leeway on the money side. But yes, I will try and run interference so you can do whatever works.

The Windsailor board was made from a relatively new fiberglass resin compound, and because of this the board needed to be painted with a special sealant that required a longer than normal curing time. Since I don't know a great deal about the chemistry of reinforced plastics or any chemistry at all , this didn't mean much to me until Stu told me that this would place constraints on our manufacturing facility.

Specifically, we would have to provide extra warehouse space for the curing process.

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This space had to be part of, or connected to, the manufacturing space. The boards could not be transported very far, and certainly not outside, after they had been sealed. That represented a significant chunk of money for the company. The Europeans had introduced the WindSailor in only a few geographic areas in late July, having missed their first-of-the-season target date by a wide margin my ears pricked up when I heard that , so they did not have much marketing data to go on.

The response in those selected areas, however, had been impressive. Their initial run of 2, boards sold out within four weeks, and they had back orders for next year equal to three-quarters of their production capacity. They were increasing their capacity to meet what they hoped would be an even greater demand next season. Leslie estimated that by purchasing the North American manufacturing and distribution rights to the WindSailor, Stu had given Hyler a least a full year's head start on any North American competition, and on other European manufacturers who might try to export to our market.

Since this was a brand-new product, Leslie figured that this head start would give us market dominance over any competing boards for as much as three years, more if our marketing and promotion efforts were done well. There was, of course, a catch that Stu seemed almost happy to relate. Leslie and the WaterTrend folks in Germany figured it would take the competition about 16 to 18 months to design, test, and produce a board that would get around the WindSailor patent protection and compete head to head with our product.

N o problem! N o problem. Design the new facility, build it, buy all the equipment, and get it running properly in less than ten months. As I thought about this, I became even more appreciative of the fact that we were located near Portland, where it does not snow and you can do construction work all year. I Chapter 2: Grasping the Scope Our distribution system always pushes our production dates back earlier than you would expect.

Hyler owns only one retail outlet, and it is located at our plant. The rest of our product is sold through a variety of privately owned sporting goods stores. This means our products have to be ready for sale well before the final customer wants to buy them. Distribution time is a reality that has to be factored into all of our production schedules.

To get the Windsailor out to the public for, say, the last part of next summer, we would have to have it ready for sale by June. This would allow adequate time to get it out to retailers. We had only a rough idea of what work was needed, and the directors were already telling us what we would be spending, regardless of anything we might discover to the contrary. Based on my experience, I expected we would discover to the contrary. Then there would be hell to pay, even though the board must have pulled the cost estimate out of thin air. Think you can do it for that? I just found out about the project 20 minutes ago.

I wouldn't want to disappoint him. As soon as I know differently, Ralph is going to have to approve a new budget. In fact, I think you'd better look at me as your political advisor on this one, as well as your sponsor.

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I prompted him. I started to get it. I don't even know what I'm doing on the manufacturing side! The whole thing is part of the same big project, and I want it run that way. With my help you can pull team members from every department, and they'll be doing most of the work in their areas.

But I want you coordinating the whole thing. I want you to coordinate it all. The more I thought about the whole thing, the more unhappy I was. Not only was this project important for the company, Stu's hopes of promotion were riding on it too. It wasn't that I minded pressure, it was just that projects always seemed to turn out poorly, or with mixed results at best. Hard as I had tried, I had never figured out a way to improve the result.

Recreational products are very marketing intensive. Two million dollars was a lot of money for Hyler to invest, and that didn't take into account the increase in operating expenses that would result from this product. Head office would never let Hyler go under, but it would let people's careers get into serious trouble. If things didn't go well, not only would Stu not be getting his promotion, but I would probably want to dust off my resume. All of this hanging on a project. I felt something funny happening in my stomach.

My loyal department staff were not much help, either for my stomach or my lack of knowledge about projects. Amanda is my second in command in Information Systems, and one of my favorite people at Hyler. To reduce her smugness to a more bearable level, I said, "Yes, no question it will be a challenge. But thank God I have you around to help!

The project is going to take up a lot of my time over the next ten months, so I'll be needing you to take over my responsibilities on a regular basis. Of course, we won't be getting any extra people to help us here in IS, so you will still have your own stuff to look after. Looks like we'll be spending a few late nights together.

Her smugness transformed into minor depression and I felt a little better. He does everything by the book. And half the time he has the wrong book! I looked at my watch. Want to come along? I would definitely have to find a lot of work for her to do. What is the Problem? She obviously wasn't getting the message. I tried telling her again. And so is Stu's. Remember him? He's my boss. You like him! She's a great person, and I value her opinion above just about anyone else's.

But she is not terribly sympathetic. She has crazy ideas about dealing with problems in a rational way. Tonight, for example. The whole drive home which, admittedly, is only about ten minutes since I live on the outskirts of Darfield, the next town over from Enderby I had been looking forward to complaining about my troubles and then listening to her appropriately sympathetic noises. As usual, she was not playing her part.

It should be a great success! She needs it in her job. Jenny is a freelance journalist. When we had Sarah, our first child, six years ago, Jenny and I decided to move out of the big city then Baltimore and live the small town life. We thought it would be better for the kids, and for us. By the time we had our son Jake three years later, I had managed to find the job with Hyler. Moving to the country sounds like a really trendy thing to do, but we've never regretted it. Unfortunately, Jenny's career was harder hit than mine. Before the kids and the move, she had stories published in Newsweek and Time.

Now, she writes mostly for local papers and magazines. Anyway, as a writer, Jenny has seen a lot of rejections, often for arbitrary reasons. She has this disgusting habit of shrugging them off and trying again. I tried once more to convince her it was hopeless. And worst of all, I don't know anything about projects! But my behavior was not inducing the least bit of sympathy.

Is that right? It's almost as if the outcome is randomly determined by the Project God, and He is a close relative of Thor. But most of their ideas don't hold up when I try to apply them. I had been to three seminars on the topic. All in vain. Sure, I got ideas, but they did not take into account individuals who were disorganized, people who did not want to spend time doing mathematical analysis, or project managers who did not trust their team.

Plus, they were always very construction oriented. And most projects I had worked on had a big administrative component that directly affected everything else. Whenever I had finished a project, it was time to get on with some other work, or a new project. There was never any time to sit down and learn something from what we had just done. So of course we always did the next project the same way. I have often wondered if looking at the person's grandparents gives you a picture of what they will be like in 60 years. This always gives me a fright when I think about Jenny's grandmother.

To be fair, the old woman was not that bad. It's just that Martha as everyone, including her own daughter, calls her was perhaps the weirdest senior citizen I had ever met. Somewhere in her eighties, she lived with her daughter Jenny's mother in Darfield. She apparently spent her time sitting on the porch in her rocking chair, smoking her pipe yes, a pipe , thinking, and being crusty to people like me. Admittedly, she did have a mind like a steel trap, but she made people uncomfortable at least people like me , pointing out how someone was doing something wrong, or how they could do it better.

The most annoying thing about Martha was that she was almost always right. If she told you there was a better way of doing something, there was. But she would tell you in a way such that you did not want to give her the satisfaction of showing her she was right. Other than that, not much. C'mon, Jenny, you have to give me a reason to go subject myself to her. You didn't go visit Martha, you subjected yourself to her.

I do know that when I was a little kid and Martha was living with us, she used to travel all around the country, and even overseas. She would always tell me she was 'helping set people's thinking straight,' as she put it.

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According to Mom, Martha and my grandfather started a manufacturing business together before the Second World War. They did very well with it, even better after Pearl Harbor. When my grandfather was killed in London in , Martha ran the whole thing herself. I guess she sold out sometime before I was born and came to live with my Mom. Martha seemed like someone who was used to ordering people around.

I guessed it wouldn't hurt to talk to her. It probably wouldn't take long. But I had one last line of defense. O n e thing I've always liked about Darfield is the town's "oldness," the way the whole little village looks like it came from about which most of it probably did. The streets are wide and lined with big old elm and oak trees, and behind the trees sit the houses.

Big two- and three-story places, with porches that run all the way around the front, houses that really do have the character that real estate listings always claim. Every time I drive through the place, I feel nostalgic for the small town America that was gone before I was born, or perhaps never really existed. Fortunately my nostalgia is tempered with practicality. Jenny and I were not crazy enough to buy one of those old places-far too much upkeep! When I get home from work I do not want to spend my evenings installing new plumbing, replastering walls, and fixing rotting floor boards.

Jenny's mother and father bought one of the places on Elm Street in the sixties and have been fixing it up ever since. This allows me to live out my big old house dreams whenever I visit, knowing I will d soon be returning to a newer lace that doesn't require nearly so much work. Because of this, the prospect of visiting Martha was not all bad.

It was still light out when I pulled into my in-laws' driveway. O n this late-August evening the trees were still in full leaf, the air was warm, and you could almost hear kids playing baseball in the vacant lot behind the house. I got out of the car. She was in her usual place on the porch, sitting in her rocking chair, pipe clenched between her teeth.

Sometimes she made me think of a cross-dressing Popeye, but maybe that was being unkind. Jenny's mother, Natalie, came out through the screen door at the front. Jenny called and said you'd be coming over. It sure helped my little fantasy along. I walked up the steps and sat in one of the porch chairs close to Martha.

Making It Happen:

I sat there feeling uncomfortable until Natalie brought out my lemonade. We sat in silence for a few more moments while Martha smoked. I have to admit, I love the smell of pipe smoke, regardless of who is producing it. What did you want to talk about? Actually, it was more of a guffaw. Why do you want to know? I might as well tell her the story.

I gave her a brief overview of my project at Hyler. It's projects in general. This one is important, but it just points out that I don't know what I'm doing with any project. I was worried she would come back with some scathing reply about my lack of intelligence. Discovering Perspective To my surprise, that didn't happen. Martha looked thoughtful and she took a long draw on her pipe.

I sipped my lemonade. I had taken a course in operations research when I was at university. We had done a lot of mathematical analysis of PERT charts and arrow diagrams, both project management tools. But the guy teaching the course had a Ph. It seemed to me there must be a lot of knowledge that I did not yet have. I told this to Martha. She just smiled. And anyway, you probably wouldn't learn much to help you. So far, academic knowledge had been of no help to me in my projects. Martha continued, "If you want to improve the way you do something, like projects, do you always need to increase the quantity of your knowledge?

As soon as the word slipped out, Martha's expression told me I should have thought about it for a little longer. I tried to defend my answer. All the latest discoveries like the silicon chip and fiber optics. They all came from research that increased our knowledge. Like I said, she loves to correct people. However, you are right to a certain extent. New discoveries and solutions do require knowledge, and that knowledge may not yet have been discovered.

But I'll ask you again. Is gaining more knowledge always the way to improve things? It had gone out by this time, so she busied herself cleaning it out in preparation for re-lighting. While she was occupied, I thought a little more carefully about the question. Intuitively it made sense that the more you knew, the better you would be able to do things. But I was acquainted with a number of people who seemed to have a large quantity of knowledge but who were not very good at what they did my project management professor being one of them.

I tried to emulate my wife and apply a little logic. I Chapter 3: What is a Project? What else would you need except more information to help you improve how you did things? I was beginning to feel impatient. I wanted to spend some time tonight preparing for my morning meeting. I told Martha I was stumped. Have you ever heard of Emanuel Kant? That tune was called the "Philosopher's Song," so I took a wild stab.

It is amazing what you can learn from television. Kant wrote about some interesting things, and one of them relates to our conversation. He made a very important observation about how we humans make new discoveries. In other words, it is not the acquisition of new information so much as how we look at what we already know that is important in learning new things.

One thing I cannot understand about pipe smokers is why it doesn't drive them crazy that their pipe goes out all the time. Come to think of it, maybe they are all crazy. Finally she continued. Did you know that people used to believe that the sun moved around the earth?

At least I think she did. It was hard to tell her annoyed looks from her regular ones. But he also had something else. What do you think it was? That was all. N o new knowledge, just an idea. His idea was that maybe the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around. All the existing knowledge supported that idea, just like it fit into the perspective of the sun going around the earth.

But no one had ever thought of it before. I summed things up. Needless to say she had not, especially the one that would occur if Jenny turned into a Martha in the next sixty years. You need to get a new perspective on them. What's the new perspective? I can only help you discover it for yourself. I stood up. I have a big day tomorrow. Martha stared over the edge of the railing. She said, "You haven't got it yet, Will. One way or the other, it won't affect me.

Tomorrow, at your team meeting, ask everyone what they mean by the word project. I figured that Martha was being too theoretical. What could defining projects have to do with anything? There was another meeting still going on.

Making It Happen

It was a status meeting about a marketing project that was supposed to have ended at 9. I thought about last night while I waited for the room to clear. When I told Jenny about my conversation with Martha all she said was, "Are you going to ask them? Everybody knows what a project is! All she said was, "Don't write Martha off. She knows what she's doing.

By , everyone was there, and we were ready to start our 7 Making it Happen OO meeting. The team was seated in various places around the con- ference table. I, of course, occupied the head chair. Interesting, I reflected, how often I had thought that the person sitting in the head chair did not know what he or she was doing. Now I was sitting in that chair, and I knew I had been right. Except for Al, I was pretty happy with the group. As head of Information Systems, I had worked with all of them on various projects and I had a good relationship with each, including Sheila.

I thought she was a better engineer than Al, but that could have been due to that fact that she got along with most people. I took a deep breath, and then started into my pitch. We're tentatively calling it WindSailor, and it fits nicely into our product line. We are also going to hire more people and train them. And we will have to develop some new information systems to support all of this expansion. The only part we will not be responsible for is the marketing campaign. Our Sales and Marketing people will handle that. It appeared more coffee would be needed before I could hope for much response.

We have to finish everything in time for the production id a Chapter 4: The Team Meets people to make 2, boards by June. To facilitate this, I want to run this team in a very informal way. I want everyone involved. If you have ideas, we all want to know about them. If you have criticisms, we want to know about those too.

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I've worked on a lot of them, but I hardly ever feel I have the control I think I need to do them well. This project is important, expensive, and on a tight deadline. I want to make every effort to ensure it doesn't get away from us. I was hoping this little speech would start pulling us together as a team. Unfortunately A1 spoke first. You don't know anything about construction, and that is clearly the most important part of this project. When we're not making boats and boards, we're not making money. You don't seem to understand that. Personally, I'm glad you're not in charge of this one.

We'd be bankrupt in a week. Alice from accounting piped in. Every time you get involved in something, it creates a big problem for us in Accounting. Us against Al. Believe me, I tried to convince him he was making a mistake, but he wouldn't buy it. Everyone else seemed to look pleased, but that was probably my imagination.

Right now I would like to figure out where we're going and roughly who is going to do what. Where do you guys want to start? She said, "That sounds pretty fuzzy. If we are going to make that the goal, should we have some kind of measurement of success? It's not really a goal.. See, it supports the main goal, but it's secondary.

I was starting to wonder exactly how goals and sub-goals, and maybe even sub-sub-goals, were going to help us. A1 looked a little peeved that I had not written down his suggestion. I know about goals and sub-goals. It's the accepted way to do it. Alice said, "If we are going to include this kind of stuff, I want something in there about doing this project so it doesn't cause me and my staff another million accounting headaches. O n the flip chart I wrote: Project Sub-Goal 2: To conduct the project in such a way as to minimize conflict with the accounting function.

I turned to Alice for approval. All this project stuff is just a sideline for me. I don't have the resources to be able to jump every time you people want something! Everyone, including Alice, will have to let me know what your requirements are well in advance. With Stu's help we should be able to hire extra staff, or whatever it takes, to get this work done. Any other goals or sub-goals we need to add? It will just get you into trouble. The cost and schedule change all the time anyway, and changes upset the sponsor.

Let's just put in a sub-goal about doing all of this work on time and on budget, but let's not write down what the time and budget are. It will save us a lot of headaches in the long run. Most of the projects I had worked on had some time frame and cost that was pulled out of thin air. Invariably, by the time the thing was done, one or both were significantly different from when I started. We were supposed to be working together, but past experience had me in agreement with Al.

O n the flip chart I wrote: Project Sub-Goal 3: To conduct the project in such a way as to complete it on time and within the specified budget. As I finished writing, Mark said, "I'll tell you right now, that looks stupid. I for one vote to put the schedule and budget constraints up there before we go any further. The only thing that I could determine was that there was no agreement. I decided to move on.

We've identified the project goals. What about responsibilities? Execution Planning. A Dependency Chart. Finding and Fixing Mistakes. On a Crash Course. The Project Manager Faces the Board. The Project Team. What is Design and How Long. Organizing the Design Process. A New Assignment.