Author Archives: Kiron Bondale

About Kiron Bondale

Measurable business value can be realized through the successful initiation, prioritization, planning & execution of strategic projects. Striking a pragmatic, value-based balance between people, process & technology is a key to achieving success with Project Portfolio Management initiatives. Effective change management is crucial when trying to improve PPM or PM capabilities. Having been involved with multiple capability improvement initiatives, what I've learned is that "it's easy in theory, difficult in practice"! Continuous improvement of hard & soft skills gained by assisting organizations in the achievement of their business goals through the execution of the right projects in the right way is my ongoing mission.

Are you being (responsibly) transparent?

We might assume that transparency should be a given when delivering value through our projects so why is it that the actions of teams or the stakeholders supporting delivery don’t always demonstrate that basic hygiene factor? Transparency is so critical that the Scrum Guide lists it as one of its three pillars and it is similarly echoed in the reference materials for many other agile delivery methods as well as in PMI’s Code of Ethics.

Transparency is a rising tide which lifts the attitudes of all stakeholders:

  • Customers benefit as they have to spend much less effort in understanding what is really going on
  • Sponsors benefit as they will develop stronger, more positive relationships with teams and are better equipped to support their teams in a more timely manner when issues arise
  • The project manager and team benefits as they don’t have to worry about putting the right “spin” on events and are less likely to get distracted or waste effort in needless status updates for stakeholders. They will also benefit if the higher levels of trust which result from increased transparency encourage enterprise groups to lean out governance requirements by focusing on the few outliers rather than punishing the majority.

I wrote a few years back about the downsides of unfiltered transparency as this could generate unnecessary panic or encourage micro-management from our stakeholders, but responsible transparency is key to creating trust.

Responsible transparency is about providing the truth, warts and all, but ensuring that sufficient context gets provided so that our stakeholders’ reactions to the truth are appropriate. Project teams have many tools and techniques available to them which can provide transparency about progress and impediments, but using these in isolation may not provide that context. For example, reviewing individual work items in a sprint backlog without also being aware of the sprint goal(s) identified by the Product Owner doesn’t help a stakeholder see the forest for the trees. Similarly, trying to interpret a burn down or burn up chart without understanding the team’s delivery approach or the contents of a sprint or release backlog might create the wrong perceptions.

So as you strive for transparency in your information radiators and other communication methods, ensure that you are providing the necessary color commentary to make the information meaningful.

The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust – Denise Morrison, (Former) CEO, Campbell Soup Company

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Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What if the PMBOK Guide was a Choose Your Own Adventure® book?

I’m midway through reading Choose Your WoW! from Scott W. Ambler and Mark Lines of the Disciplined Agile Consortium. While their 2012 reference book for Disciplined Agile Delivery provided guidance for teams interested in tailoring their delivery approaches, the new book delves much deeper into the key goals, decision points and options for those decision points. It also provides external references to inspire practitioners to venture down the rabbit holes for the practices they wish to explore further. The main content of the book comes in just under four hundred pages but given the volume of information provided, it shows that the authors have been practicing what they preach when it comes to minimally sufficient documentation!

Their book focuses on teams using adaptive lifecycles for delivering technology solutions but it would be still be helpful to address the needs of teams who are utilizing traditional approaches for delivering projects in other industries or domains.

What would the outcome have been if the volunteers who created the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide had taken a similar approach? Yes, the current edition contains new sections with tailoring considerations but those are just scratching the surface of that critical topic.

Perhaps they would have realized that the current guide should have really been released as two separate documents. There is still a need for a PMBOK framework reference covering process groups, processes, inputs, outputs, tools and techniques, but much greater value would have been realized by practitioners in having detailed guidance for exploring the key goalposts and decision points taking into account the context of a given project and the culture of the organization they are working in.

This could be done using a decision tree approach similar to that used for Disciplined Agile but imagine how much fun it would have been if it was written like a Choose Your Own Adventure® book? Such a guide could help teams understand the options available to them while simultaneously exploring potential downstream implications of their decisions. Add in some cartoons illustrating key concepts and the Guide would no longer be considered a surefire cure for insomnia!

Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Change management helps when implementing risk responses

A student in a project management class I taught shared the concern that it was very hard for her to get risk responses implemented. This is a fairly common problem and is likely one of the reasons that the volunteers who updated the PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition added Implement Risk Responses as a new process within the Project Risk Management knowledge area.

Most companies which have project management standards require teams to identify and analyze risks, but merely capturing information in risk registers is worthless if nothing is actually done to manage those risks. Acceptance is a risk response strategy, but project managers are not supposed to just report on accidents, they are expected to prevent them. But there’s only so much that they can do by themselves. Risk management requires investment from stakeholders outside of the project team to really make a difference.

Getting a reluctant stakeholder to commit themselves to a risk response requires change management so let’s see if Prosci’s ADKAR® change model could be used as a framework to achieve this objective.

Awareness & Desire: If the proposed risk response owner is not aware of the need for them to participate, nothing will happen. Sending them a risk register by e-mail and asking them to review the risks which they can help with isn’t likely to generate a prompt response. Meeting with them in person and clearly articulating the nature of the risks and the proposed responses might work better. Response owner awareness is a good starting point, but why should they expend their valuable time, money or political influence? Helping them understand how they have “skin in the game” for the project’s success will be critical if you want them to commit themselves.

Knowledge & Ability: Does the response owner clearly understand what you’d like them to do and do they possess sufficient context regarding the risk? Do they already have the necessary knowledge to plan and execute the response, and if not, how can you simplify that learning curve?

Reinforcement: Just because you’ve had a meeting with the response owner and they’ve bought in to the need for their action doesn’t mean that you can wash your hands of the risk. Regularly reporting on the status of implementing risk responses to your sponsor and key stakeholders as well as following up with response owners will be needed to increase the likelihood of follow through.

Read any of the case studies which are published in PMI’s monthly PM Network magazine and effective risk management is nearly always identified as a contributor to a team’s success on large, complex projects. But without addressing the need for personal change, your risk management efforts are likely to remain an academic exercise.

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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