Posts Tagged With: communications

Kanbanize your personal development resolutions for 2018!

The new year is a time for making resolutions and most people’s lists are likely to include some behavior-related ones (e.g. I resolve to eat only one dessert with dinner!) as well as some goal-oriented ones (e.g. This is the year that I’ll get washboard abs without the benefit of Photoshop!). While behavior-related resolutions usually come down to our self-discipline and soliciting and receiving candid feedback from those closest to us until those behaviors become ingrained, goal-oriented resolutions might require us to do some planning and tracking.

This is especially true for personal development-related resolutions. You might be aspiring to attain a new role, a new credential or to gain competency with a new skill.

Perhaps you’ve taken the time to write down these goals and shared them with those around you. That’s great as studies have shown that documenting and communicating goals increases our sense of commitment and ownership to their completion.

Unfortunately, when it comes to personal development, reality has likely asserted itself now that we are through that halcyon first week of January. Whether it’s work priorities or family commitments it can be easy to de-prioritize those development activities, especially if there is no one reminding you of them regularly. Like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, days will turn into weeks and soon you might find yourself singing “And so this is Christmas and what have I done?”

Sometimes the problem might not be ignoring personal development activities but being overly ambitious by taking on too many at the same time and not completing them. It feels great to start something new but it can be less fun to see it all the way through especially while also juggling work and family activities.

If this sounds like you, Kanban might be just the support you need to accomplish your development goals.

Break your development objectives down into a few key activities, prioritize those activities, define the workflow for them, establish Work In Progress limits taking into account your capacity, and transfer those activities on Post-it notes to a simple work board containing high and low priority swim-lanes as well as one for blockers. Ideally this work board should be installed in a prominent location such as the side or front of your refrigerator where others will be able to see and support your development activities. This has the bonus benefit that when activities get blocked, you can draw on the creativity of your family to overcome them.

A development journey of a thousand miles begins with a Kanban step.



Categories: Project Management | Tags: | 1 Comment

Lessons in customer service from my Xmas getaway

My son and I just enjoyed a few days of sunshine, good food and great customer service at a Caribbean resort. Our journey home made for a jarring return to reality thanks to the more than fifty degree drop in outside temperature but also due to the poor customer service provided by the airline.

For my last post of 2017, I thought I’d share one bouquet and two brickbats in the hopes of encouraging more of the former and a lot less of the latter in 2018.

Our resort is one which we’ve visited once before a year and a half back. A few months before our trip, I’d dropped a note to the front office manager letting her know that we were coming back and providing her with a few requests. I was not expecting that we’d be treated any different than any other guest given that we’d spent less than a week during our last stay. Not only did they upgrade us to a higher tier room, they also left a fruit plate, a cheese plate and a decent bottle of rum in our room along with inviting us to a repeat guests cocktail reception midway through our stay. Sure, the cost of these bonuses is a fraction of what we spent for our stay, but this thoughtfulness did a great job of cementing my loyalty.

Delighters, like recognition, don’t need to be big.

The inbound flight for our journey home was delayed a half hour due to bad weather in the Greater Toronto Area. The ground and flight crew made fast work of getting our plane ready for the return flight and we departed with just a slight schedule variance on the scheduled departure time. However, once we landed, we spent an hour on the runway waiting for a delayed plane from a different airline to free up our gate. Through this process, the flight crew did a good job of providing us with updates.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there.

Once our gate was available, we spent an additional forty-five minutes waiting for ground crew from the third-party provider contracted by our airline to provide these services. Few updates were provided by the flight crew and they took every opportunity to pass the buck for the issue to their service provider.

When a customer buys the sausage, they rarely care to know how that sausage was made, just that it tastes good and meets quality requirements!

Once we had de-planed and made our way through immigration to the luggage carousels, things didn’t improve. We waited an hour for bags to start showing up but none came. A few of us made our way to the luggage enquiries desk and requested an update from the airline’s agent there. Upon our request she called her duty manager who tried to get a hold of baggage services (again contracted by the airline) without success. Once again, the airline’s agent tried to defer ownership of the issue, first to her duty manager and then to the third party service provider. Repeated requests to have her duty manager (who was at the airport – somewhere) to come down were ignored.

More than three hours after we landed our bags finally arrived.

Issues will occur but how your company handles them when they do is what your customers will remember. Training staff to avoid the blame game and ensuring that someone empowered to make decisions shows up in person can turn a public relations nightmare into a minor blip.


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

In defense of the Digraph

I’ve found project risk management to be one of the weakest performed PMBOK knowledge areas in most organizations, even for those companies whose operational risk management practices are very mature. A part of this challenge is that we tend to identify obvious risks but miss key ones when we don’t engage sufficient stakeholders in the identification process or when we ignore lessons identified in past projects. But another major source of issues is the lack of meaningful response to identified, analyzed risks.

An article from the October 2017 issue of PM Journal reminded me that HOW we communicate risk information is as important as WHAT we communicate.

I’m sure many of you recognize the futility in only sharing risk information via risk registers. While those are a valid place to consolidate risk information for project management purposes, it is unlikely that most stakeholders will know where to locate a risk register for a project, let alone review it periodically. A better approach would be to use existing information radiators, reports or meetings to secure ownership of actions and responses for key risks.

But how do we present the information itself?

Extracting key fields from the risk register into a management-ready table is one way to do this. You might also be creating some colorful heat maps to provide stakeholders with a higher level view of overall risk probability and impacts.

But what about the relationships between risks?

You might have communicated some information regarding the secondary risks generated by responding to other risks, but what about the relationships between the risks in your register?

Creating a visual representation of the relationship between risks can help us focus further analysis and response efforts on those risks where we will get the greatest overall project benefits. An interrelationship digraph which was one of the quality management tools covered in the Fifth Edition of the PMBOK Guide and excised from the Sixth Edition provides one way to do this. Such a view might also help key stakeholders to connect the dots for themselves. They can visualize how their response to a specific risk might help to prevent impacts resulting from the realization of other risks triggered by the first one.

Our project risk management practices are only effective if there is a tangible difference in outcomes compared with our doing nothing. 

Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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